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anthrax

It was about nine months ago that the Anthrax Scare started. I was reminded of it by this Opinion piece from the New York Times. 


I remembered several articles that dealt with the suspicious "inability" of the FBI to find the culprit:



  • Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks. This analysis in particular is important since the author is a respected scientist that doesn't commonly babble conspiracy theories.

From Salon:



Information would then point to a disgruntled USAMRIID scientist based in Fort Detrick. The FBI shouldn't have trouble finding him... unless they didn't want to find it. I read somewhere one of the slightly crazier conspiracy theories: that the Anthrax had been mailed by a CIA agent in a mission to "test" the response of the US public healthcare system (and indeed of society as a whole) to a bioweapons attack.


Regardless of who did it, it's difficult to believe that the FBI doesn't know who he/she is... and if that's the case, then why don't they take action?


In any case, if nothing else happens on that front, it will probably be forgotten in the midst of some accounting scandal or White House press conference...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 12, 2002 at 10:09 PM

a big fat lie?

I've seen discussion in several sites about the NY Times Article: "Has it all been a big fat lie?"


This just in: regardless of whether you eat carbs, fats, kitchen cleaner or hardwood, what matters is not what you eat, but how much you eat. If you eat less than you need, you'll lose weight. In a six-page article, just one sentence (and a muddled one at that) makes mention of this apparently irrelevant fact.


The article (and its previous incarnations), seems to alternatively blame doctors, the governments, the FDA, McDonald's, or all of them at once for the "obesity epidemic" now firmly established in the US.


Now, when will somebody, at some point, consider saying that it's the people who are responsible for their health and their weight? Otherwise it seems that a society supposedly capable of freely electing representatives is, at the same time, unable to choose a proper diet.


Wait a minute, I just remembered that the current president did not actually win the popular vote... but was chosen by a group of fosils in a decision split along partisan lines.


Hmmm... Maybe this whole discussion does have a point then...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 12, 2002 at 8:58 PM

the long war

From The Economist: The Long War

"Just a reminder. Some 40m people are infected with HIV, the AIDS virus. Another 20m have died of it already. Around 3m more will do so over the next 12 months. That is nearly 9,000 a day—three times as many people as died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre last September. Every day, 15,000 more people are infected. Unless things change a lot for the better, almost all of them will die of it, too"

AIDS is certainly the worst problem (in health terms or otherwise) in the world today, and it's getting worse. As the article says:
"At the moment, the worst affected countries are in Africa. Some places have infection rates that are above 30%, or even 40%, of the adult population—and still rising. Cynics in the West might write Africa off. Are China, India, Indonesia and Russia to be written off as well?"

Rich countries in the West might have no problems "writing Africa off". But what will they do if HIV mutates and becomes airborne, for example? Even without such an event, HIV infection rates in the US have stopped the downward trend of the last decade and are inching up again. What will it take for the world to react?

Pandemic: Facing AIDS is another good source of information, supported by UNAIDS and several other groups, foundations and corporations.

Sesame Street will apparently try a new strategy to educate kids on at least some of the issues related to AIDS. I say "some" because while a puppet might be a good way to show that people with HIV are no different than any other people and should not be treated differently it seems to me that it would create quite a confusion on the transmission side of the disease. I mean, how does a puppet get AIDS? Do they think that kids are stupid, that kids think that puppets have blood, saliva, etc?

Oh, and, by the way, this is for South Africa and other "developing" countries only. Kids in the western cultures apparently grow up with a perfect understanding of HIV, AIDS, and they have no prejudices whatsoever.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 12, 2002 at 5:08 PM

3 movies

On movies:

The teaser for The Two Towers, Part 2 of the Lord of The Rings trilogy, was released recently. I find it disappointing that in it they give away the fact that Gandalf comes back. For everybody out there that hasn't read the book, it's a major spoiler. Gandalf's return was one of the best surprise elements in the second book, and one of the few glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark and oppresive section of the story.

Another new Teaser Trailer is the one for Terminator 3. This one truly qualifies as insubstantial hype, if not outright garbage. The movie is set for release a year from now. Principal photography has barely begun (and it shows. The teaser has no footage). This movie will be dangerous for the "terminator" storyline. James Cameron is not involved in the project (he was outbid when trying to buy back the rights for the story, which he had originally sold to Carolco), and almost certainly means that the quality of the script and the difficult issues involved with story-coherence and time-travel will be ignored in the name of hollywood dollars. Too bad.

A more tantalizing teaser: Solaris Produced by James Cameron and directed by Steven Soderbergh, and (one would expect) based on Stanislaw Lem's classic novel of the same name. Cameron is one of the best for Science Fiction, and Soderbergh is one of the best directors out there... hopefully they will do right by one of the most original SF novels ever written.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 12, 2002 at 2:21 PM

legal insanity

An interesting story on Salon about parents that sue (or threaten to sue) their child's school if the child doesn't get good grades. It reminds me of another recent story on Salon as well. The reader replies to that story where quite good, in particular:

"Heck, why stop there? Birth is a leading cause of eventual death, and every one of you who's alive is costing us every damned day! We won't stand for it. Sue everyone, all the time!"

It amazes me the level up to which Americans are prepared to forgo any sense of rationality and let a judge and a bunch of lawyers take over a process that would usually be solved by a converstation. It's commonly said that the US has more than 50% of all lawyers in the world, I'd say that this actually understates how much they do. I would not be surprised if the US accounted for 75% or more of all the lawsuits on earth as well.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on July 12, 2002 at 2:19 PM

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