Every week or so, it seems I’m dying of something else. It could be HIV, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, or any of the other millions of things that can go wrong with the human body. Of course, I probably don’t have any of those things. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying.
I guess I just have a intense aversion to dying. I really don’t want to die. Combine that with a predisposition towards anxiety and you have a recipe for trouble. Your mind is constantly searching for something it can turn into a life threatening illness. You have a headache? It might be a brain tumor. Or an aneurysm. You know that bump in your mouth that’s probably a saliva duct? Maybe it’s mouth cancer. Coughing a lot lately? It could be pneumonia.
This just goes on and on. And the internet always makes it worse. You can go over to Web MD’s Symptom Checker, put in the most innocuous ailment, and it gives you a list that includes all the possible causes, no matter how remote. When you see that, your mind goes spinning and you search the web to find something that says you’re not dying.
For me, the illness de jour is chronic melamine toxicity. My family has used melamine plastic plates for as long as I could remember and it’s not uncommon for us to put them in the microwave. Then the thought comes: what if the melamine leeches into my food and gives me cancer! What if I have cancer right now?
That takes me to my laptop and the internet, where I learn that melamine plates are not microwave safe and have been known to leech in to food. However, a study in Taiwan found that leeching was not a high enough level to cause health problems, but the chronic effects of long term use are still unknown. Long story short, it’s probably not going to kill me. The key word there is “probably.”
But that doesn’t stop me from worrying. I would prefer that it was “definitely” instead of “probably.” Too that there’s no such thing in life as certainty. At least I can take comfort in the fact that next week it’ll probably be something. And they say that variety is the spice of life.
From the Washington Post
“A federal grand jury on Thursday returned a 30-count indictment against the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, and many of the charges carry the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was indicted on charges including using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use, resulting in death.”
The indictment goes into detail on every single count and gives us new information about what happened during the run up to the attacks. In particular, it describes how Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan went up to New Hampshire to purchase materials used in the bombings, including explosives and hand guns.
The indictment also says that Dzhokhar downloaded a copy of al-Qaeda’s english language magazine, Inspire. The magazine details how to create an explosive device using a pressure cooker, the exact method the brothers used to make the bombs that detonated during April’s Boston Marathon.
With regards to the causalities, the indictment alleges that two people were killed by each bomb, along with scores of injuries. To me, that seems like an odd coincidence that the deaths were evenly split up between the two brothers, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
The big remaining question is whether Dzhokhar will cop a plea deal with the feds or opt to stand trial. Any plea deal will most definitely come with significant prison time, and he may spend the rest of his life behind bars. But it will spare him the death penalty, which will be on the table should he plead not guilty.
Today I went out on the campaign trail with Anthony Wiener at the New York Blood Center, where the candidate spoke against the ban against gay men giving blood.
Much to my surprise, I was the first to arrive. I talked with the growing gaggle of reporters (I think it’s called a gaggle) for a half an hour before the candidate arrived. From what a I learned, freelance photography is a dying business. Thank God I’m not a photographer.
During his 10 minute statement, Weiner railed against the ban on gay men giving blood. He blamed the current rules on one thing: fear.
He then invited a gay man to speak about how the ban personally affects him. The man said that more than anything he just wants to be able to help people and to participate in this civic duty. The man presumably was a Weiner supporter.
Weiner tried to make issue more about public health than equality, but he did add that “this is discrimination where we really can’t afford it.” However he did seem to be going for the vote of the LGBT community, perhaps trying to take some of the thunder away from his rival Christine Quinn, who is gay.
As a personal note, I have to say that the Weiner campaign doesn’t have much patience or respect for reporters. For Christ’s sake the press guy wouldn’t even give out his name. I won’t hold it against them, but I do think it’s indicative of the their overall strategy. Because from what I saw the Weiner camp is focused on retaining control over the candidate’s media exposure. And the last thing Anthony Weiner needs is another indecent exposure.
From CBS News:
“The most expansive plans in years to impose new oversight on the New York Police Department passed the City Council early Thursday, as lawmakers voted to create an outside watchdog and make it easier to bring racial profiling claims against the nation’s largest police force.
Both passed with enough votes to override expected vetoes, marking an inflection point in the public debate and power dynamics that have set the balance between prioritizing safety and protecting civil liberties here.”
The NYPD are complaining that this would hamper their ability to protect the streets from “criminal” elements. Through the use of “stop and frisk”, the police are able to stop “suspicious” people on the street and frisk them without necessarily having a concrete reason. The standard they use is called “reasonable suspicion”, which in effect means that they can stop and frisk pretty much anyone they want.
As my use of quotation marks shows, I’m skeptical of this program. Stop-and-frisk is a big invasion of personal space and from what I’ve heard it is not a very pleasant thing to be subjected to. And while in theory race is not supposed to be used to pick targets, nearly all of those who have been stopped and frisked are either black or hispanic.
Of course, this law doesn’t place any restrictions on stop and frisk whatsoever. It allows for greater oversight and makes it easier for those who have been racially profiled to seek action against the NYPD. To borrow a phrase from our friends in blue, you don’t have to worry if you have nothing to hide.