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"I am the world crier, & this is my dangerous career...

I am the one to call your bluff, & this is my climate."

—Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

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Saturday, February 5, 2000

BBC News | EUROPE | Profile: Controversy and Joerg Haider Some details on the Austrian far-right leader with a history of praising Nazi policy, whose inclusion in the new governing coalition is so controversial. The next leader of Austria?

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New Scientist: Backwards to the future A paper published in the last days of 1999 suggests there is no theoretical reason why there might not be regions of the universe in which time runs backwards.

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The web has grown to over a billion unique documents, a new study asserts.

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Getspeed.com. Find out if broadband internet access services are available at your location by entering your zipcode.

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The American Experience | Race for the Superbomb | Nuclear Blast Mapper My most passionate activism has been for disarmament. I went to the UK once just because I had been so enamored of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). I helped Helen Caldicott and others found Physicians for Social Responsibility when I was a pre-med and medical student. In large measure, I was "turned" by my exposure to the BBC film "The War Game," a ground's-eye neighborhood view of the effects of a nuclear attack that I believe was banned in the UK for many years because it was so disturbing. (Do you remember the network media event of "The Day After"? This was a decade earlier, and without the Hollywood bathos and glitz.) Disarmament activism works best when it brings the effects of a nuclear blast home to your dinner table, as does this site. Here is what happens to my part of the country from a 25 megaton air blast.

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Fantastic Prayers
"Fantastic Prayers describes an urban landscape inscribed with memories of lives
lived, objects possessed or discarded, and places inhabited. In eight magical
environments, you become a visitor, who, like an archeologist, is invited to dig
through and uncover fragmentary narratives, laden with physical and
psychological histories."

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"Don't do housework on
New Year's Day. Sweeping dirt out through
the front door was akin to sweeping away the
family."

—One tradition to consider following
today, the inauguration of the
Chinese New Year of the Dragon. Happy new year! I was born in a year of the dragon myself.

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Is anybody reading this weblog? If you're out there, please drop me a line to let me know. I fear I'm sending these thoughts out into the utterly cold and empty void to dissipate as random electrons...

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The Bush Bubble by William Saletan
Well, I'm violating a promise I made to myself that this blog wouldn't get involved in the largely meaningless and inconsequential quadrennial quibbling we call Presidential politics. If there are any Bush supporters reading this (and there probably aren't, if you've followed my ideological bent as previous postings reflect it...), William Saletan (in Slate) thinks you're not thinking for yourself: "Here's what George W. Bush has accomplished: He won the
governorship of a big state without Republican opposition in a
year in which every palatable Republican nominee was swept
into office. He administered that institutionally weak office
during a national boom that poured surpluses into state
treasuries and enabled governors and legislators to cut taxes
without cutting spending. He accumulated enough time in
office to become a plausible presidential candidate just as the
country's Democratic president was discrediting his heir
apparent with yet another scandal, and just as Republican
congressional leaders were discrediting themselves by
reducing their agenda to the president's impeachment, thereby
clearing the Republican presidential field for Bush.

You were supposed to vote for Bush because everyone else
was supposed to vote for him. In New Hampshire, they didn't.
Bush says it's just a blip in the market, and you should keep
holding his stock. But he's already lost most of his lead in
South Carolina. If he suffers another defeat there, people will
begin to ask why they should vote for him even if he's not
inevitable or more electable than his rivals. McCain, Alan
Keyes, and Gary Bauer have spent two years explaining why
you should vote for them even if nobody else agrees with you.
Bush ought to be able to answer the same question."

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"The Turning Point Project was
formed in 1999 specifically to design and produce a series
of educational advertisements concerning the major issues
of the new millennium. The ads will appear in The New
York Times and, funds permitting, other newspapers
through spring of 2000. The issues discussed are those that
will be crucial in determining the quality of life on Earth in
the near and distant future. Despite this, they have not been
given the in-depth coverage in the major media that they
deserve." Their list of featured issues includes the extinction crisis, genetic engineering, industrial agriculture, economic globalization, and "technomania". Their board of directors includes the estimable Jerry Mander, whose thinking and agitating I have been influenced by since his "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" in the '60's (read it if you can find it!).

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CRT - Campaign for Responsible Transplantation
Raises concerns about the risk of facilitating the transfer of devastating animal viruses to the human population through xenotransplantation. "The Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and
eminent scientists have acknowledged that xenotransplantation could
transmit deadly animal viruses to patients and the general public.
Baboon Cytomegalovirus was recently detected in stored blood from
a recipient of a baboon liver who died in 1992. Pigs can carry
bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal and helminth pathogens, as well
as prion proteins, implicated in 'mad cow disease'. Known pig viruses
include the porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) that have infected
human cells. In 1998-99, the novel Malaysian "Nipah" virus jumped
from pigs to humans, infected 269 people, killed over 100, left dozens
brain-damaged, and led to the mass slaughter of one million pigs. The
swine flu epidemic of 1918 killed 20-40 million people worldwide. We
know relatively little about pig viruses, or animal viruses in general.
There may be dozens waiting to be discovered." Of course, several recent devastating infectious diseases, including HIV and gruesome hemorrhagic fevers such as Marburg and Ebola, presumably made the jump from animal reservoirs... On the other hand, are we merely tapping into a new virulent arena for human xenophobia?

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Thursday, February 3, 2000

Panorama: Transcript of a special BBC report on a physician who may have killed as many as one hundred of his patients.

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Swiping at Crime Solving cases with the help of metrocard records: "
A swipe at a turnstile in
Manhattan, for example,
demolished a crime suspect's
alibi that he never left Staten Island the day of a
Central Park West robbery, authorities said." Never use your farecard on the way to or from a compromising position, I guess. Not to mention your car's toll transponder, or your credit card, or your ATM card, or....

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Monday, January 31, 2000

Don't Let Them Take Your Mind and Spirit:
On Being Called a "Provider"
By Karen Shore, Ph.D.
"The language of managed care represents the dominance of the impersonal industrial culture in health care, a culture that has begun to eradicate the humanitarian
culture to which we held. It is no accident that the MC industry uses the term
"behavioral health care" rather than "mental health care," and focuses on
"functioning" rather than on the totality of a person's behaviors, thoughts,
feelings, dreams, memories, attitudes, capacity for relatedness, fears, hopes,
and potentials for satisfaction and happiness."

It is also no accident that the MC industry calls us and our colleagues from
other disciplines "providers" rather than "clinicians," "practitioners,"
"professionals," or "caretakers." I feel a deep demoralization each time I hear
one of us use the word "provider" because I know this means that that
person's mind has begun to be influenced by a dominating culture, that that
person has begun to accept the dominance of MC and its culture, even if
he/she hates MC. And I know that his/her perceptions of self and others has,
without awareness, begun to change." An important essay on the relationship between naming and political power, addressing the current battle for hearts and minds (and pocketbooks) in my profession.

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