Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

28 April, 2008

PRM: Inside joke edition

Perhaps you're not familiar with the musical stylings of Finnish death metal band Lordi. If that's the case, then believe you me, I'm doing you a favor. Consider it my contribution to multiculturalism.

"Devil is a Loser"

"Who's Your Daddy"

And what collection of Lordi would be complete if we neglected to add "Hard Rock Hallelujah"?


25 April, 2008

Blinded me with science

Well, that does it. With "scientific" proof like this, how can we deny it? I'll be seeing you in the pews, motherfuckers!

At this point, I believe the kids say, "Boom!"

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21 April, 2008

And yet it's so much more

Demographers and health researchers are noticing a dramatic drop in women's life expectancy is some areas of the United States:
The downward trend is evident in places in the Deep South, Appalachia, the lower Midwest and in one county in Maine. It is not limited to one race or ethnicity but it is more common in rural and low-income areas. The most dramatic change occurred in two areas in southwestern Virginia (Radford City and Pulaski County), where women's life expectancy has decreased by more than five years since 1983.

The trend appears to be driven by increases in death from diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema and kidney failure. It reflects the long-term consequences of smoking, a habit that women took up in large numbers decades after men did, and the slowing of the historic decline in heart disease deaths.

It may also represent the leading edge of the obesity epidemic. If so, women's life expectancy could decline broadly across the United States in coming years, ending a nearly unbroken rise that dates to the mid-1800s.


"This is a story about smoking, blood pressure and obesity," said Majid Ezzati, of the Harvard Initiative for Global Health, a co-author of the paper.

The drop in life expectancy is about those things, but it's about a helluva lot more too.

It's the story of a nation that has a dangerously broken for-profit insurance to provide health coverage for most of its citizens, while leaving some 47 million uninsured. The coverage that people do have isn't necessarily even adequate to actually obtain decent health care.

It's the story of a nation that doesn't have - has never had - any sort of cohesive public health policies.

It's a story about cheap, processed foods of marginal nutritional value and mass advertising.

It's a story about poverty, and the conditions which cause poverty.

Limiting the story to just smoking, blood pressure, and obesity limits the solutions to the problems which vex us when it comes to public health in this country. By focusing on these three items, the solutions come in the form of individual interventions, in a manner of speaking. Educate people to make good choices, the logic goes. It, of course, elides over the much more complicated, and in the long-run, more damaging, structural problems that underlie the proximate causes of the decline in life expectancy.

There needs to be a much more expansive conversation about public health in this country, and it's a conversation that should make some people feel very, very uncomfortable.

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20 April, 2008

Laugh it up, fuzzball

My friend AJK posted these on Facebook, and since most of you didn't know me in the Way Back When of 1996, I thought I'd share a little bit of the past with you. I believe the preferred nomenclature for my look around this time is "Wookie."

AJK, myself, and B

Me, AJK, and JA

I almost look like ez, eh?



How about some of that particular ray of sunshine, Lou Reed?


"Walk on the Wild Side"

And a funky "Sweet Jane"


It's the little things

An anthropological survey of the personal ads in our local weekly paper has demonstrated a preference for the descriptor "420 friendly," the West Coast equivalent of which would be "herb friendly." Neither are exactly subtle codes for "I smoke pot," but I have to admit, I prefer the laid back straight-forwardness of the latter.


17 April, 2008

Me? I've been reading

Just to fill you in on what I've been doing... well, a lot of reading (thanks to the hefty gift cards to Powells). I've lately gone through Tom Robbins' Villa Incognito. Honestly, it feels like Robbins writes from a template: Seattle and other more exotic locales, mysticism, prodigious acts of sexual congress with a bent towards kink, drugs, and a caper. Which isn't to say that it's not an enjoyable read - it most certainly is, but it didn't ring my bell like Still Life with Woodpecker or even Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates did. I wouldn't call it a must-read, but it's a nice find at a used bookstore.

Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, on the other hand, rocked my proverbial socks. The story, driven by the conceit of suicide, is pretty implausible, true, but this was so fun to read (yes, it's about depressed, suicidal people), I was willing to take the leap. The novel moves from one absurd situation to the next, but the characters are each so sweetly compelling in a really miserable kind of way that you genuinely care how the situation is resolved, even if the resolution isn't necessarily pleasant. This is a funny novel for and about sad people.

As for right now, I'm busying myself in a very nerdy kind of way with Hugh Thomas' massive history, The Spanish Civil War. It's been a long time since I picked up a political/military history book, and this one is especially satisfying, given Thomas' strong narrative gifts.

Next up? The Cold Six Thousand and a ginormous political biography by Isaac Deutscher.


15 April, 2008

More groveling

Okay. So I've been a major slacker about the noodle these days. Outside of being ill, I've also been spending my evening hours away from the computer, doing things like watching movies, reading books, and hanging out with the family. On top of that, I've had a major deficiency of blogging mojo - I just don't much feel like commenting about things that are going on these days, although this could be an effect of being out of practice rather than any actual lack of interest.

That said, I'm going to try to be better in the next few days about posting some content - either that, or I'm going to declare a hiatus for a few weeks in order to meditate on my mojo. But I'll work on the former.

So that's what's going on.


07 April, 2008

Down with disease

My apologies, dear readers. For the last six days I've lain in bed with Madame Influenza, basking in her feverish garden of hallucinatory delights. I'm currently happy to be sitting upright again.

At any rate, as better health appears to be upon me, I'll get back to minding the shop for our mutual amusement.