electricland: (This Is Wonderland)
or, why you can't buy a sandwich from a vending cart: All your questions answered. (via [livejournal.com profile] spacing)
electricland: (This Is Wonderland)
Via [livejournal.com profile] spacing, an interesting article on Toronto's street food -- why it's basically limited to hot dogs, and how that might change.
electricland: (Alien)
Some links:

Via [livejournal.com profile] makinglight's comments section, also [livejournal.com profile] shetterly:

Cecilia Fire Thunder, Oglala Sioux Tribal President, is kind of annoyed at South Dakota's recent unpleasantness. So she's hoping to establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is of course sovereign territory and no subject to South Dakota law (in this case and many others). Planned Parenthood clinics are, of course, good for much more than just abortions.

Ways to donate, in case you want to help with this.
Next, Salon has more on a disturbing story:

[T]he anti-birth-control movement's efforts are making a significant political impact: Supporters have pressured insurance companies to refuse coverage of contraception, lobbied for "conscience clause" laws to protect pharmacists from having to dispense birth control, and are redefining the very meaning of pregnancy to classify certain contraceptive methods as abortion. In increasing numbers, women and men opposed to contraception are marshaling health facts and figures to bolster their convictions that sex for anything but procreation is morally wrong and potentially deadly. Although its medical arguments are really just thinly veiled moral and religious arguments, using findings that are biased and unfounded, the rising anti-contraception movement, echoed by the Catholic Church, is making significant inroads. Leaders of the pro-choice movement know it, are worried about it, and realize they can't take it lightly, as they mount their own strategies to battle it.

"It is very hard to awaken people to the threat," says Gloria Feldt, the former president of Planned Parenthood, "because who can believe that something so accessible can be at risk? But that's what [people] said when they started attacking Roe, and now look at how close we are to losing Roe."
And Dan Savage notes:

Straight Rights Update: Earlier this month Republicans in South Dakota successfully banned abortion in that state. Last week the GOP-controlled state house of representatives in Missouri voted to ban state-funded family planning clinics from dispensing birth control. "If you hand out contraception to single women," one Republican state rep told the Kansas City Star, "we're saying promiscuity is okay." On the federal level, Republicans are blocking the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception and keeping a 100 percent effective HPV vaccine—a vaccine that will save the lives of thousands of women every year—from being made available.

The GOP's message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no life-saving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You're going to have those babies, ladies, and you're going to make those child-support payments, gentlemen. And if you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that's too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut.

What's it going to take to get a straight-rights movement off the ground? The GOP in Kansas is seeking to criminalize hetero heavy petting, for God's sake! Wake up and smell the freaking Holy War, breeders! The religious right hates heterosexuality just as much as it hates homosexuality. Fight back!
Finally, because it's never too late to keep those hits coming and this seems like an excellent post for it: Bill Napoli.

napoli (not to be confused with the proper noun, which indicates the Italian city)
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): napolied
Pronunciation: nA’poli

1. To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage. 2. To hella rape somebody.

Etymology: From State Senator Bill Napoli’s (R-SD) words on an acceptable description of rape that would merit an exemption from South Dakota’s abortion ban.

[Edited to add stuff. I knew I had more than I originally put in...]
electricland: (Betan Astronomical Survey)
Via [livejournal.com profile] makinglight, the source of many good things, comes news of the $100 laptop. (I've heard about this before, but this is a nice summary, and it sounds like they're making progress.)

In November 2005, Nicholas Negroponte, head of the MIT Media Lab, unveiled a prototype of a laptop that could be sold -- in minimum orders of one million -- at a cool $100. While Negroponte now projects the price somewhat higher, around $110, he also sees the project's completion soon -- in late 2006.

How can a computer be manufactured so cheaply? According to the project's Web site, they will use "high-resolution black and white displays commonly found in inexpensive DVD players [that] can be used in bright sunlight -- at a cost of approximately $35." They also plan to save money by running open-source code like Linux and selling their computers in a minimum order of one million to governments.

The project, run by the nonprofit group One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) formed at Davos and backed by companies like Google, Red Hat, and Advanced Micro Devices, could have monumental consequences for the education and material improvement of poorer nations. Historically, technology facilitating the cheap and easy spread of information has often taken centuries to be directly seen in material progress -- from the printing press to "Poor Richard's Almanack" for example. But One Laptop Per Child, by connecting poor, rural farmers to everything from weather forecasts to educational resources to medical information, shows how this process can be sped up exponentially. Commentators have also suggested alternate uses of the OLPC laptops as cash registers and a method to document transactions or to provide the formal titles to land necessary for the poor to obtain loans.

You can visit the group's website for more info about the $100 laptop. (They have a wiki and everything!)

Perhaps not surprisingly, Bill Gates thinks it's a silly idea. (Makes me want to send them a cheque right now.)

Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates mocked a $100 laptop computer for developing countries being developed with the backing of rival Google Inc. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

...

"If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you're not sitting there cranking the thing while you're trying to type," Gates said.

(Then he said "You should by my new laptop, which will cost between $600 and $1000, instead!")

You know, although I curse Bill Gates on a regular basis, I think he's done a lot of good with his money -- the AIDS foundation and so on. I'm surprised to hear something so out of touch from him...

Anyway, it all reminded me of the National Farm Radio Forum, something my dad was involved with in his early days at the CBC:

The broadcasts were aired every Monday night from 1942-1965. The weekly themes of the broadcast were developed by a national planning group made up of farmers from across the country. Topics ranged from agricultural policy and international trade to community and family life. Families would gather in each others' homes, community halls, school houses or church basements to listen to the broadcast and discuss the issues presented. They were aided with a publication called the Farm Forum Guide which they received prior to the broadcast. The guide presented different sets of questions for both adults and youth to discuss. Following the discussion, the participants were encouraged to report to their Provincial Farm Forum Office the results of their discussion and these were tabulated and reported for five minutes of the following week's broadcast. This allowed the listeners to take part in their education by sharing views and ideas across the country.
electricland: (Electric Landlady)
Very excited about this pilot study on wait times for knee and hip replacements from Alberta.

The average wait for a first orthopedic consultation dropped to six weeks from 35 weeks, according to an interim report on the program released yesterday.

In the project, which sends patients through a central-intake system and has its own doctors and surgical space, the average wait for surgery after the first consultation has plummeted to 4.7 weeks from 47 weeks.

And the average hospital stay has shrunk to 4.3 days from 6.2 days.
Andre Picard's commentary is very good -- it will probably disappear behind a pay-for-me barrier tomorrow, so here it is )

(The Alberta Hip and Knee Replacement Project's website has the full report [PDF].) Extremely promising -- and publicly funded too, whatever will they think of next? It sounds similar to Ontario's Cardiac Care Network, which is widely praised as an initiative that centralizes the bureaucracy, stays on top of patients' conditions and needs and moves them up and down the waiting list as necessary, streamlines the process of getting through the system, and generally Gets the Job Done. More, please. (Of course, I'm trying to figure out how to relate this to paediatrics for work, but I don't think the issues are really similar enough to do it -- so this is merely personal squee.)

And in cool science news from PNAS:

An Asian origin for a 10,000-year-old domesticated plant in the Americas

Grammatical Subjects in home sign: Abstract linguistic structure in adult primary gesture systems without linguistic input (language patterns developed by congenitally deaf people deprived of any speech or sign input)

Disturbing.

Nov. 8th, 2005 11:03 am
electricland: (Betan Astronomical Survey)
Rich get better access to diagnostic imaging, even though we have a publicly funded system that should be egalitarian. Here's André Picard's take.

More evidence that we still have a ways to go with our healthcare system.

Katrina

Sep. 8th, 2005 07:03 pm
electricland: (Default)
From an anonymous source, treat with due caution, but... heartbreaking account of continuing fuck-ups in the disaster zone. Via [livejournal.com profile] gristmill_rss.

As always, I wish there was more I could do for the disaster victims than donate to the Red Cross and obsessively read the newspapers.
electricland: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ozreison just posed an interesting question: are dead bodies, or are they not, sources of disease following a disaster?

Happily, the Pan American Journal of Public Health is there for us. O. Morgan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine -- where, incidentally, my cousin Cynthia is going this fall to do a master's -- where was I? -- oh yes, O. Morgan wrote a review article on this very subject last year:

Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters. [see comment]. [Review] [34 refs]

Read more... )

If you scroll down the page I linked to, you'll be able to read an editorial that comments on this study in full. Money quote:

The article’s systematic approach demystifies and rules out the risk of major catastrophic disease outbreaks as a consequence of decaying bodies remaining exposed after natural events or conflicts. The article also offers simple guidelines for those unfortunate workers having to deal in a safe but respectful manner with a large number of unidentifiable bodies. Too often the adoption of exotic precautions, such as masks and protective suits, accompanies a disregard for the basic hygiene and sanitation measures advocated in this article.

The article emphasizes that survivors are a more likely source of disease outbreak. This point is well taken, and it calls attention to an effective strategy of disaster response: a strategy focused on providing primary health care for the victims and their families. Active surveillance and rapid restoration of normal public health services, including the provision of safe water and food, should be the priority.
So, dead bodies per se are not a risk unless the people had an infectious disease of some kind. Of course, as [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl mentioned, if diseases such as cholera are endemic in the area, it's entirely likely that the breakdown of services and the water flooding everywhere could lead to an outbreak.

Help the survivors by supporting the Red Cross or your favourite disaster-response organization. [livejournal.com profile] makinglight is keeping a great list of resources.

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