Thursday, April 30, 2009

Autotune My Life

Okay these "Autotune The News" bits are wearing on me, but I can't stop watching them. Mainly because I imagine my boss talking through an autotuner. "E. Couuuld Yooou Pleease Geeet Thaaaaat Teee Peee Esss Reee pooort Dooonnnne Tooo Maahhh Rooow. Greeeeaaat. Thaaaanks." Tight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Teenagers: It's A New World

Two of my dad's students were arrested today in an alleged bomb plot, tied up in the Columbine anniversary. The plan was to create some sort of gas explosion. I think it's so sad when students who obviously need extra help and attention transfer that need to planning horrible criminal acts. I was a high school senior when Columbine happened, and it effed people up for weeks. Schools are supposed to be safe places, and it's so terrifying when they're not.

That said, the charges are steep, and the 17- and 18-year-olds are being tried as adults. One student was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of conspiracy to manufacture or possess a destructive device. Both were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson and other offenses. Especially since one of the students confessed before they did anything.

I don't pretend to know anything about criminal justice, and it remains to be seen how the trial plays out - it's just really sad that we've failed these children on so many levels, and now they're not getting any better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Reruns

Swine flu PSAs from the last swine flu outbreak in the 1970s. I hope that Obama's people (including Sebelius finally!) come up with better ads than these. But, in the kitsch department they are hard to surpass:

For those who might desire a more substantive discussion of the swine flu situation from people who actually know what they are talking about, let me recommend Aetiology and Effect Measure. Both are written by epidemiologists who have a great way of explaining what is going on in the news.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Public Health Emergency? Call Secretary--...Oh.

Do you think now that we have a public health emergency the Republicans will deign to confirm Kathleen Sebelius? Even though swine flu doesn't seem to be epic, it's a pretty big albatross around the neck of the Republicans in 2010 if even one person in America dies. I see an analogy forming: Public Health:Democrats::Security:GOP.

On a related note, here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Appreciating Your Five Senses

I've been laid up with a kind of flu-like sickness for the past few days. Every day brings an awesome development that marks the stages of the illness. Saturday was feeling filthy all day. Sunday was extreme fatigue. Monday, extreme fatigue plus fever. Tuesday, more moderate fatigue plus head cold symptoms. And today, I lost my sense of smell.

I almost always lose my sense of smell when I have a cold (I think a lot of people do) but it always scares me a little bit. I mean, not being able to see and hear seriously affects the way you try to navigate the world, communicate with others, and keep yourself safe. Sense of smell is a little less critical to those functions, but it always blows my mind how frightened I become when I can't smell or taste.

There are very simple, legitimate reasons to be worried when you lose your sense of smell. My moment today was on the subway. I actually tried to work, failed miserably and went home in the middle of the day. When my train arrived on the platform, the car closest to me was completely dark, there wasn't time to see if there were other people in it. Usually I use my sense of smell in this situation. Is there something wrong with the car? Possibly something mechanical? A burning smell? Couldn't figure it out. Of course, the odds were in my favor and I live to tell about it.

But other things throughout the course of the day bothered me. I couldn't gauge my hunger levels because nothing tasted good to me. I went to our fancy bodega to buy simple soup and crackers (they of course only had rosemary crostini and organic chicken and orzo soup, leading me to wonder why the hell I was there in the first place). I settled on saltines that we already had. I really had to hone in on my tummy to feel if I was full. And now I can't remember if I brushed my teeth.

I'm just glad it's (probably) temporary. I really feel sorry for anyone who has to live like this all the time. It's not like severe vision / hearing impairment, but it's a tiny bit terrifying all the same.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Have a Date

No, not that kind of date...I think that E. might (deservedly) shoot me if I had that kind of date. Nope, I have a date for my dissertation defense: May 28th. This means that I need to have my dissertation completed in the next three weeks. Seeing as how dissertation is not close to being done right now, this means further that the next three weeks are likely to be both stressful and busy. In conclusion, blog posts will be on even shorter supply from yours truly.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mindless Entertainment for Mindless Entertainment

Blogging has been short of late for me because I have been trying to bang out my dissertation. To relax and give my mind a reprieve from Census data and variance-covariance matrices (yeah, it's about as exciting as it sounds) as I am writing it, E. and I are burning through The Wire on the Netflix queue. That made xkcd that much more entertaining this week: