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114 posts from April 2007

April 30, 2007


dam, originally uploaded by stylecouncil1.

Google to boost accessibility of state records

Google is partnering with state governments to boost the accessibility of public records online. [AP]

Your Monday musk ox

Musk Ox, originally uploaded by Shamarukh Alam.

There, don't you feel better now?

Musk Ox is made from a single square of uncut paper, designed by Fumiaki Kawahata and folded Shamarukh Alam.

April 29, 2007

Suspect nabbed in failed abortion clinic bombing

27-year-old man was arrested on Friday on suspicion of planting a bomb outside an Austin abortion clinic. [Reuters]

The bomb, which contained some 2000 nails, was discovered on Wednesday in the parking lot of the Austin Women's Health Center. Residents of a nearby apartment complex were evacuated and a stretch of highway was shut down while the police defused the IED.

Inequality widens health gap in retirement

The health gap between high- and low-status workers is greatest during retirement, according to the latest dispatch from the famous Whitehall study of British civil servants.

Researchers from University College London followed over 10,000 employees over a 20-year period.

After retirement, low-grade civil service employees reported a much steeper decline in their health than did their high-grade counterparts. In middle age, the average high-grade employee had health score equal to that of an average low-grade employee 4.5 years younger. The average score of a 70-year-old high-grade retiree was equal to that of a low-grade employee 7 years younger.

The authors say that both pre- and post-retirement factors contribute to the gap. They suggest that lower status retirees may not be able to afford the healthy food or the stimulating leisure that keep better off retirees spry. Also, the full health impact of a whole career of stressful, poorly paid, low-status work may not be fully felt until late life.

Sunday Sermonette: Rejecting the "moderate Muslim" label

Asma Khalid has a thought-provoking essay in AlterNet entitled "Why I am Not A Moderate Muslim."

In this passage, she puts her finger on what has always bothered me about using the term "moderate Muslim" to describe followers of Islam who embrace values such as democracy, gender equality, and peace:

In the aftermath of September 11, much has been said about the need for "moderate Muslims." But to be a "moderate" Muslim also implies that Osama bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence; and, consequently, that if I espouse peace, I am not adhering to my full religious duties.

I refuse to live as a "moderate" Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful. True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to adhere piously to a religion's tenets. [AlterNet]

Khalid's insight applies to other groups as well. It would be insulting to describe members of the United Church as "moderate Christians" compared to Southern Baptists--because the implication would be that industrial-strength Christianity is conservative and that more liberal faiths represent a watering down of the old time religion.

When I first moved to New York, I nearly got into a shouting match with an Orthodox real estate broker who was showing me an apartment in Crown Heights. As I was checking the tile in the bathroom, the guy made some off-the-cuff remark about how Reform Jews weren't really very Jewish.

"No, we just don't agree with you," I snapped.

The thing to remember is that claims of fundamentalism or orthodoxy are positioning statements for brands. We often treat claims of religious orthodoxy as if they were statements of fact rather than rhetorical devices.

Positioning your doctrine as the orthodoxy is a way to marginalize your competition. If we uncritically allow the most reactionary sects to claim the mantle of orthodoxy, we do the work of fundamentalists for them.

UNC brands anorexic as campus threat

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the University of Northern Colorado published the photographs of 24 students who had been barred from campus for "honor code" infractions ranging from alleged violent crime to anorexia

One of the students whose picture was splashed on the UNC police department website was Brittany Bethel, who was been banned from UNC after collapsing on campus from anorexia nervosa:

Bethel is on UNC's banned student list. The list of names and pictures were posted on the site this week. The school says it is a response to the shootings at Virginia Tech University, but it admits not everyone on the list is a potential danger.

"It is associated with the shooting at Virginia Tech, so it's being implied that the people on it are somehow a danger to someone else and I am in no way a threat to anyone else," she said. [9News]

There are so many civil liberties issues here, it's hard to know where to start.

The university should not be publicly identifying people as threats without overwhelming evidence that they are a danger to the community. It might make sense to publish photographs of students who had, say, outstanding warrants for their arrests, or restraining orders barring them from campus. Short of that, the university has no business pinning scarlet letters on its students.

Imagine how that mugshot page would look to a prospective employer. Branding someone with the stigma of school shootings is no joke, especially the state where the Columbine shootings happened. People on the UNC list might even become the targets of harassment themselves.

It's doubly shocking that the university knowingly published the photographs of students who weren't deemed threats to anyone but themselves.

How dare the University of Northern Colorado stigmatize an woman suffering from a serious medical condition? How was it even legal to bar her from campus for being sick in the first place?

To publicly brand her as a threat heaps insult on injury.

UNC should immediately reinstate Ms. Bethel and compensate her for the ordeal she has endured.

[HT: Body Impolitic]

Snowy owl

happy, originally uploaded by Jeope.

Today's FlickrFind.

Joe Mathlete will draw anything you ask him to on an index card


Even a butterflyfish as a law student or Moby Dick on Leno.

April 28, 2007

Welcome, Jasper Bickle!

Img_0031 Congratulations to my dear friends Jen and John Bickle on the arrival of their first child, Jasper!

Jasper joined the esteemed ranks of Canadians at 23:50pm on Friday, April 20th, 2007.  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and measured 20 inches.

I'm very pleased to report that the whole family is elated, if tired.

Judging by the adorable preliminary baby pictures, little Jasper has inherited the radiant smiles of his parents.