aruan: (saved the world today)
Interactive: Balance California's budget | Los Angeles Times

Turns out I tax the rich and bad habits, think people should have saved enough while working so they don't need pension funds, give benefits to legal immigrants but kick out illegal ones, believe in nursing homes over in-home care when the state is footing the bill, and do not, under any circumstances, cut health and rehabilitation programs. I can live with these facts.
aruan: (Default)
A list, because I haven't been able to congeal a complex thought in weeks. Does heat work like that? It's already been 111 degrees here, which is enough to melt stone, so possibly.

Can you die from lack of sleep? | Slate
Theoretically, yes, from hypothermia (?!) or the bacteria in your gut leaking into the rest of your body because your immune system can't keep them in check, among other fates.

Does Wal-Mart make you skinny? | The Daily Beast
In a statistically significant way, apparently, by being a source of inexpensive fresh produce. Having a Wal-Mart in a community is equivalent to a 6.5 rise in annual income, which I find fascinating.

NBC saves 'Chuck' | Airlock Alpha
YESSSSS. I love that little show.

'Galactica' set to drain your checkbook | The Indianapolis Star
I really can't justify spending $250 on things I already own, but those extras sound AMAZING.

Over the Wall | The New York Times
Christoph Niemann's work is always simple, like each entry was co-written and designed by his young sons, poignant and smart.

School canteen opens as restaurant to avoid closure | The Mirror
Neat!

Banker rescues family of ducks | KOMO News
<3!
aruan: (ulcers at 30 won't be a surprise)
Your brother committed suicide? No insurance for you! | The Consumerist

This story is horrific. Basically, the man's brother killed himself when he was young, and he went to a few (sadly enough probably the number, usually six annually, allowed on his parents' insurance) psychiatric sessions afterward. Once he aged out of that coverage, however, he couldn't get his own policy because of those sessions, nor a job that offered coverage. Now he's $1.2 million in debt after an accident involving his truck. When I moved away to college, my mother warned me that if I ever need to see a psychiatrist to pay out of pocket because I'll have trouble getting insurance again. I thought she was just being paranoid.

This reminds me to mention the healthcare system here. )

Meanwhile, Americans are getting married and divorcing for insurance coverage.

Slate makes the suggestion that more people would keep doctor's appointments, not to mention be healthier, if they could be seen on the day they call. You mean people asking to see their physician on a day they have the time and transportation to make it to their office, with no foreseeable emergencies or hideous weather (yes, it gets that bad in Florida even when a hurricane isn't overhead) would be more likely to get there, perhaps even on time? Not exactly a revolutionary idea, but I'm glad someone put it out there.

Heart patients in Sacramento log fewer emergency room visits because of home monitoring systems. Some smart cookie finally recognized how piss-poor people are at assessing their own health, especially with chronic conditions.

On a more specific health care note, but one I heard complaints about again and again as a cops reporter: The story of Hiu Lui Ng is the latest in a heartbreaking New York Times series about immigrants dying while in US custody. Feel whatever you want about the immigration situation in the US, but denying inmates medication for chronic conditions, confiscating wheelchairs, ignoring symptoms is wrong. The government provides cable television, three meals a day, showers, libraries and computers, but ironically, the one thing inmates could get more easily on the outside is often denied because of bad rules and uncaring staff.
aruan: (rockin' the space-time continuum)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Orgy | Slate

The online world has its own kind of reality, somewhere between private and public. Typing "orgy" into a search engine is less than doing. But it's more than thinking.

Merits (or lack thereof) of the lawsuit that spawned this article aside, I think with something as vague ("know it when I see it" shouldn't even be a legal term) as obscenity that requires a community yardstick, this is an ingenious tactic. Gaging community standards by Internet searches, while neither scientific nor necessarily representative, is certainly more reliable than asking its members' opinions on an issue. And if my fair trial depended on whether my neighbor would admit to watching, say, group sex videos, I may as well save the entire legal system the trouble and plead guilty.

Taking a step back from incarceration, taboos are broken when your neighbor is doing it too - that's what Google Trends reveals. There are plenty of things I enjoy that very few people know about, but the chance of ever discussing them with our perfect stranger neighbors is less than zero - not because they're illegal, but because it's simply not done. There's a reason we don't live in glass houses. But thanks to Trends, we don't have to. The feeling of going online and finding a community of people who think like you is exhilarating - now we (and our perhaps not-so-square neighbors!) can be assured those people exist where we live. What could we de-stigmatize next?
aruan: (happiness is a ZPM)
I love Slate. They raise interesting questions, take unconventional angles, and basically tell stories from the human interest perspective - no inside baseball, no corporate fluff, just how this affects you and me. It's useful journalism.

By far my favorite part is their Explainer column. Some people get sucked into the Internet following Facebook links to news sites to Wikipedia entries to blogs - I read endless back issues of the Explainer, with each column featuring related topics gathered into a summary at the bottom. Whether breaking news or pure frivolity, the questions are usually things I'm left wondering about that for some reason couldn't fit into conventional news stories.

Some recent highlights: what living in a windowless basement for 24 years does to your health, are "replacements" allowed under China's one-child policy for earthquake victims, do rehab centers have a refund policy if you relapse, where do polygamous sects get all those women, the distinction between porn and prostitution, should you drink urine in emergency situations, and how bathrooms in space work.
aruan: (work oh work)
Less than a week ago, I had a litany of very good reasons why Brandon doesn't need an iPhone. But now, I'm having trouble remembering them. Um, help? ... Maybe?

ooh, shiny!

Jun. 7th, 2008 09:06 pm
aruan: (happiness is a ZPM)
Wikia Search launches the hackable search engine | Webware

Finally, a search engine that lets you edit the results. Not sure how well the community concept will work, as anyone with a horse in the race can also contribute to deleting and promoting search results, but it's a good start.
aruan: (ulcers at 30 won't be a surprise)
Slate's review of Noise is the first I've heard of the new Tim Robbins flick about a Manhattanite who becomes obsessed with ridding the city of car alarms and faulty doorbells through vigilanteism with a baseball bat. I can sympathize on an abstract level - being able to sleep through the boys playing Rock Band four feet from the foot of my bed renders most other noise scenarios equally meaningless. I do, however, believe in jamming cell phones in classrooms and mandatory ring tone changes every two weeks if you work in an office with no vibrate-only policy, so there is a whole other world of noise pollution I lament.

Anyway, it's a real world story I wanted to write after this incident, but couldn't get the editors' support on it. It didn't help that the couple did not want to speak to me, likely on the advice of counsel, but I had more responses to that short story than most feature pieces. People hate noise, compounded by the fact that unlike lobbying their city council for a signal or stop sign at a dangerous intersection, they feel there is no recourse for loud cars. The police, when they do come out because often they don't bother, saying the offenders likely will have left by the time they arrive, either tell them to move along or give them a warning. Now, I understand being roused from sleep can lead to demands of capital punishment, but a "move along, sir" is hardly an acceptable compromise, too many nights of which allegedly led Mr. Hyde (no pun intended, but oh, the irony) to point a shotgun at his tormentors.

We're surrounded by noise all the time - ambulances, police sirens, iPods, children, cell phones, car alarms, muzack, elevator dings (can you tell the Ramee Garden has made me bitter?), car horns, air conditioners, radios, TVs, construction, etc. But how many of those very things can we live without? Granted, some of the ones we can't change, we can move away from - quiet streets, suburbs, cooler climates. God knows the world needs farmers, but moving to a spit of land in Idaho shouldn't have to be the solution. The movie, and Mr. Hyde, have a point, although a pair of noise-canceling headphones may do wonders for both?
aruan: (sometimes I just need to sit)
Coveting Thy Neighbor's Condo | The New York Times

I found this article fascinating. Maybe it's because of having spent the past three months in turns ogling the gorgeous, airy apartments that the first wave of employees to Abu Dhabi got, and staring longingly at their candle holders, wishing for any space of my own to have such a definitive home-indicating item. Maybe it's always having dreamed of living in New York, anywhere in any conditions as long as it was somewhere in the city, but knowing it'll never happen with the money even we as a couple make. Maybe because my mother was in the real estate business as a broker until about nine months ago when the Florida market all but disappeared overnight.

Or maybe the reason why all the wistful longing for a spa bathroom and Zen gardens drove me up the wall was that affording any sort of property slips further out of reach for an alarming number of people (myself included in most markets) every day. )

Or maybe all this is because I hate planned green spaces and am bitter about this apartment not having a single square inch of closet space.
aruan: (rockin' the space-time continuum)
Gene therapy takes a step forward | USA Today

For the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to restore vision in patients with a rare and usually incurable form of blindness, researchers announced Sunday.

They use viruses to alter DNA! Makes you wonder what else can be cured.
aruan: (where do I start where do I begin)
Unsold homes tie down would-be transplants | The New York Times

This is one of the things that has always freaked me out about home ownership, even before the housing market started plummeting downhill. What if I get laid off, or hate my job, or just get a really tempting offer somewhere else? I move there and pay rent or another mortgage while trying to get rid of a house? I couldn't afford that on any job in journalism. Owning a home is a very logical thing - equity, making an investment instead of having another expense, etc. But the commitment it signifies to an area and employer just make me cringe. I wonder how the newer generation of workers who have no intention of being with a single company in one city all their lives will change housing.
aruan: (ulcers at 30 won't be a surprise)
Smugglers and friends help Chinese connect with Apple's iPhone | International Herald Tribune

These unofficial distribution networks help explain a mystery that analysts who follow Apple have been pondering: Why is there a large gap between the number of iPhones that Apple says it sold last year, about 3.7 million, and the 2.3 million that are actually registered on the networks of its wireless partners in the United States and Europe?

I think the article was supposed to make me feel sorry for Apple and its business plan that has been proven useless for years with mass media. Mostly though, if the official source isn't providing what you want, well, that source kind of brought the consequences on itself, no?
aruan: (this is really happening)
When A Right Is Not Enough | rhrealitycheck.org

Eighty-seven percent of American counties have no abortion provider in 2008. Thousands of American women each year are denied abortion services, or delay their abortions because they lack the resources to pay for the service. There is, at best, the freedom to seek an abortion; we negotiate that freedom through our social standing."
aruan: (maybe this is the time I won't)
A Florida woman was jet skiing down the Suwannee River (yes, that river) on Thursday when a fish jumped out of the water, knocking her unconscious, lacerating her spleen and shearing off four fingers.

This is the fish. Eep. However, helpfully, the boyfriend provided a sense of SCALE.

I may never sleep again.
aruan: (Default)
A lot of sucky things happened to me professionally this week, so instead, have some of the good stuff that helped balance it out.

The Washington Post got more than 350 entries for a Peep (yes, the marshmallow birds) diorama contest. See the best.

Some enterprising journalist put master violinist Joshua Bell in a subway station as a social experiment. Personally, I'm always late for work, but love the violin, so it could've gone either way.

Pets do silly things, and their owners caption them even more hilariously.

Speaking of animals, have a British cat who commutes to a fish and chips shop.

On Dancing With the Stars, Joey did the tango to a remix of the Star Wars theme. My HEART, people.

Playing Scrabble against someone who's ranked 160 points higher than me, being at least 50 points behind for the entire game, and then pulling it out in the last three turns and beating him BY ONE POINT. Nothing like it.

There's something that weighs heavily on my heart. Rick Sanchez was the co-anchor of the Fox News affiliate in South Florida, which is all we watched in my house when I was growing up. Anyway, he was always a little bit goofy, liked oddball stories and made the cheesiest jokes. But it seems even South Florida got too small for him and he has somehow become a correspondent for CNN. Reading his Wikipedia entry was a fascinating exercise, since I had no idea he'd become a respectable journalist along the way instead of staying the oddball anchor who tried to charm you through the camera. Now he reads everyone's news, though thankfully, he still volunteers to be Tased and go down in a sinking car occasionally. Keep the faith, Rick.
aruan: (big bang baby)
There was an awful late-night raid of a dogfighting ring here in Polk County a couple of months ago. Some 20 people were arrested, and 139 dogs of all ages and breeds were confiscated. Several of them were so malnourished, feral, injured or sick that they had to be put down immediately.

Many of them weren't, though, and they awaited their fate in Animal Control kennels while a whole slew of legal and police professionals broke their hearts putting together the case to punish their owner.

This story is about the team who cared for them as long as they could, as best as their resources and emotional health would allow. This kind of telling of real people's stories, of looking around one's community, city, state, world, and telling a story about something down to how it affects one's neighbors is what journalism does at its best. To that end, two of my favorite publications are the International Herald-Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times, with a nod to the latter for this one.

Story: Kennel Trash
aruan: (Default)
I had heard rumors, but this morning National Guardsmen dressed in fatigues and armed with semiautomatic assault rifles were stationed in most major national airports. The news anchor spoke of feelings of "security" and "gratitude" among the flying public - personally, I am aghast that the world has come to hail armed troops in its civilian enclaves.

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