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Archive for March, 2009

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This is a nail-biter of a story from Salon about medical malpractice. I’d post an excerpt, but I don’t want to give away the dramatic ending.

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Circumcision should be routinely considered as a way to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, argue US experts.

They spoke out after research found circumcision significantly cut the risk of infection with herpes and the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

Circumcision is known to sharply reduce the risk of HIV infection.

But the study, featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, failed to convince UK experts.

Yeah, no kidding. People in Africa must think Americans are a strange people given their obsession with (pardon the following) surgically removing the foreskins of an entire continent of men.  I loved this quote from the BBC.

Dr Colm O’Mahony, a sexual health expert from the Countess of Chester Foundation Trust Hospital in Chester, said the US had an “obsession” with circumcision being the answer to controlling sexually transmitted infections.

Is there some sort of circumcision lobby of doctors who perform this procedure on (gulp) adult men? If so, can I buy stock in it? This is bordering on pathological.

Dr O’Mahony also said pushing circumcision as a solution sent the wrong message.

“It suggests that it is women who infect innocent men – let’s protect the innocent men.

“And it allows men who don’t want to change their irresponsible behaviour to continue to sleep around and not even use a condom.”

Exactly. And just a reminder that Africans aren’t falling for it.

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Boy, I wish it were true in Seattle.

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headline2

It’s pretty obvious that America has some serious problems. None of which have to do with gay marriage or abortion or name your own wedge issue. Alabama, Los Angeles. These daily massacres are starting to become commonplace.

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Danton the cat

On Monday we brought Danton home for the Seattle Animal Shelter clinic where he was neutered. Since then he’s had an amazing recovery. On day one and two he primarily hid under the bed, but by day three he was coming out to be pet. On day 4 he found our bedroom upstairs to visit. On day 5 he was running the house. There are a few peculiarities to Danton. He licks me a lot. He loves it. For several minutes. If I move away he swats at my hand to bring it back. I’ll post pictures as they come.

For those not brushed up on the French Revolution, you can read about the first Danton here.

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As I’ve said before, I love the removable-bottom tart pan. You get such good results without a lot of fuss. I’m definitely more of a tart person than a cake person. The tart has a orange zest crust with jam baked onto it. Then it’s topped with a marscapone filling and raspberries.

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The agency liquidating Bernard Madoff’s brokerage says the $2.6 billion it has on hand is enough to satisfy all legitimate claims by victims of the money manager’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

This is good news, right? I was flabbergasted by the following:

Some Madoff investors are up in arms about SIPC’s decision, announced by Picard at a Feb. 20 creditors’ meeting, to limit victim claims to “net equity” — cash invested minus sums taken out. That formula ignores profit reported on customer brokerage statements for the past 20 years, gains that were fictitious because Picard found no evidence Madoff had made any trades or profits going back decades.

I can’t think of any reason why the victims should be compensated with the money that never existed. Am I cold-hearted? I am not in any way saying that the Madoff victims are responsible for their victim-hood, but let’s be honest there were many people who invested and lost money in the past year from completely legitimate investment funds. Rewarding people who participated in a scheme, granted unwillingly, makes no sense. Why should they profit when many others didn’t.

A lot of people have blamed the victims of Madoff for being greedy. I think that is unfair to people who have clearly suffered quite a bit by the selfishness of this man. Now, I’m thinking that maybe they are a little greedy.

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Take this headline and corresponding pictures.

elephant1

I know this elephant. I’ve passed by it driving many a time and it is absolutely the most vile thing I’ve ever seen. For many years there was a little dirt mountain of bird crap that you could see on the inside of its belly. A little hill of dung that was just permanently there. I wondered to myself, what business would advertise with that elephant. There used to be a florist at this location but now it’s a vehicle rental place. I guess this must be Seattle’s Carhenge, but Historic Landmark? Good lord. Article, here.

elephant2

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Headline of the day

cloris

Via Huffingtonpost.

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Clearly not as easy as it sounds. Highlights include:

Before her wedding last year, Huda Batterjee went abroad to buy her bridal lingerie — she just couldn’t bear the humiliation of discussing her most intimate apparel with a man. She had little choice: there are almost no saleswomen in Saudi Arabia. Now a group of Saudi women — sick of having to deal with male sales staff when buying bras or panties, not to mention frilly negligees or thongs — have launched a campaign this week to boycott lingerie stores until they employ women.

But in lingerie stores, that means men are talking to women about bras or thongs, looking them up and down to determine their cup sizes, even rubbing the underwear to show how stains can be washed out.

But buying them is another story. Fitting rooms are banned in the kingdom — the idea of a woman undressing in a public place with men just outside is unthinkable. So a woman is never sure she has chosen the right size until she gets it home.

“I have bras with sizes ranging from 32 to 38 because I can’t get to try them on,” said Modie Batterjee, Huda’s sister and one of the boycott organizers.

Read more about the women’s boycott of lingerie stores here.

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This is pretty impressive stuff from our Secretary of State. I can’t help but wonder if the right-wing establishment is going to criticize her for admitting American culpability as they do with any reasonable discussion on what reasons terrorists have for harming America. In their world view, America’s enemies have no motivation because America is infallible.

Speaking upon arrival in Mexico, Mrs Clinton said: “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.

“Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.

“I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

The BBC’s Stephen Gibbs in Mexico says these points have been repeatedly made by Mexico, which sometimes sees itself as the setting for an American financed and armed war.

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And apparently it’s true that they are reuniting.

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If we were to do the Pepsi challenge and decide one party is “better” than another, I think we’d have trouble – obviously aside to particular issues that interest an individual. It’s often difficult to differentiate the two since both parties are political machines often beholden to special interests. There’s nothing that makes a Republican inherently more corrupt than a Democrat. There’s nothing to say that Republicans have greater morals than Democrats and so on and so forth.

And yet there is one major difference I believe between the two. Republicans have no sense of hypocrisy. It’s not to say that the Democrats couldn’t be hypocritical. They just aren’t.

Take for instance this ridiculous notion that Obama has sullied the office of the President by not wearing a jacket in the oval office. A Democrat would never make such a claim knowing that it would quickly be disproved. Or pointing out that the opposition needs a teleprompter as if no politician in the history of politicians ever used a teleprompter.  Or wearing a flag pin. No Democrat in their right mind would criticize someone for not wearing a flag pin while not wearing a flag pin.

Is it lack of reflection? Is it a complete disconnect between fact and reality?

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Internet Country Code Map

I happened to spy this map in the lobby of a building recently. This map is saying so much at the same time that it’s really quite brilliant.

See a bigger version at Strangemaps.

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The Implied Observer gets a cat

Not the cat in the video. Our cat is still too shy to be videotaped, but he is of a similar breed.

We picked up “Danton” from the Seattle Animal Shelter yesterday. He’d had a rough day being first neutered and then waking up in a strange place. Right now we’re trying to give him a lot of space, but unfortunately our home has very few hiding places which is exactly what he needs right now. If we’d known we would have put one of the beds on its bed frame. Oh well.

As soon as we let him out in his room, he kept flinging himself against the window trying to get out. The window has a very narrow sill, so he’d jump up and try to get out then fall back down. I didn’t get much sleep due to this. I think he’ll come around  in a few days though and maybe we’ll be able to get a good photo of him.

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This is not to be missed.

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Pink Elephants

More on the BBC.

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Like Carhenge for instance in Alliance Nebraska.

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How does such a large Ponzi scheme work without attracting attention? For insight into the inner workings of a highly functional yet dysfunctional office, this article is an amazing read detailing the Bernard Madoff scandal. I’ve worked in an office with an eccentric CEO, and I know Jake has too. What if all the weirdnesses actually add up to outright fraud? It blows my mind.

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I have to say I’m really enjoying watching Jean Gabin movies. Thus far, we haven’t seen a bad film. Sure there are some we like more than others but they’re all pretty good. The exception might be Golgotha which we found out was dubbed and promptly ejected it.

Here he is in La Bandera. You know, movies were so much more topically varied back then (1935.) I mean can you imagine a writer pitching this story to a studio executive today: “This is going to be a great movie. It’s about this guy who has to leave France because of a dark secret and he ends up in Spain and he joins the Spanish Foreign Legion. He later goes to a bar called ‘Flat Chests.’ The people will love it.”

I nonetheless enjoyed this film.

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Star Trek Fragrances

Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek film, chronicling the beginnings of Captain James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men’s colognes and one women’s perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander — or inner William Shatner — with “Tiberius,” based on Kirk’s character. The scent which carries the tag line “Boldly Go,” is described by Genki Wear as having a “warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood” base.

And then there’s this:

But some Trekkies still have doubts.

“I predict incredibly stinky Trek conventions in the near future,” one online comment said.

Others simply made fun of the idea: “No Worf scent? You know, peaty, with a hint of lilac.”

Can I just say as an aside, I’m looking forward to seeing Bruce Greenwood in the new film.

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Months ago, I linked to Alixianne’s photostream for a post about designer hijabs. I took another visit to Alixianne’s photostream, and I must tell you it’s an impressive collection. Here are some favorites. Do check the full collection out on Flickr.

1. Louis Vitton hijab

2. Grace Kelly in a hijab.

3. Calvin Klein.

4. This is called a habit hijab.

Like I said, check out Alixianne’s photostream.

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For Project Runway fans.

kenley

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Oh, it will make you angry.

There are several dimensions to the debate over the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that the media have largely missed and, thus, of which the American people are almost completely unaware. For that matter, few within the government who were not directly involved are aware either.

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to “just get the bastards to the interrogators”.

It did not help that poor U.S. policies such as bounty-hunting, a weak understanding of cultural tendencies, and an utter disregard for the fundamentals of jurisprudence prevailed as well (no blame in the latter realm should accrue to combat soldiers as this it not their bailiwick anyway).

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.

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