Sunday, January 30, 2011

Slightly edited version of Congressional House bill HR#3.

H.R.3 -- No Taxpayer Funding for Handjob Act (Introduced in House - IH)



1st Session

H. R. 3
To prohibit taxpayer funded handjobs and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.


January 20, 2011

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey (for himself, Mr. LIPINSKI, Mr. AKIN, Mr. ALEXANDER, Mr. AUSTRIA, Mrs. BACHMANN, Mr. BACHUS, Mr. BARLETTA, Mr. BARTLETT, Mr. BARTON of Texas, Mr. BENISHEK, Mr. BILIRAKIS, Mr. BISHOP of Utah, Mrs. BLACKBURN, Mr. BONNER, Mr. BOUSTANY, Mr. BRADY of Texas, Mr. BROOKS, Mr. BROUN of Georgia, Mr. BUCHANAN, Mr. BURGESS, Mr. BURTON of Indiana, Mr. CANSECO, Mr. CARTER, Mr. CASSIDY, Mr. CHABOT, Mr. CHAFFETZ, Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado, Mr. COLE, Mr. CONAWAY, Mr. COSTELLO, Mr. CRAVAACK, Mr. CRAWFORD, Mr. CRENSHAW, Mr. CRITZ, Mr. DAVIS of Kentucky, Mr. DESJARLAIS, Mr. DIAZ-BALART, Mr. DONNELLY of Indiana, Mr. DUFFY, Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina, Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee, Mrs. EMERSON, Mr. FITZPATRICK, Mr. FLAKE, Mr. FLEMING, Mr. FORBES, Mr. FORTENBERRY, Ms. FOXX, Mr. FRANKS of Arizona, Mr. GARDNER, Mr. GARRETT, Mr. GERLACH, Mr. GIBBS, Mr. GINGREY of Georgia, Mr. GOWDY, Ms. GRANGER, Mr. GRAVES of Missouri, Mr. GRIMM, Mr. GUTHRIE, Mr. HALL, Mr. HARPER, Mr. HARRIS, Mrs. HARTZLER, Mr. HENSARLING, Mr. HERGER, Mr. HUELSKAMP, Mr. HUNTER, Mr. HURT, Ms. JENKINS, Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois, Mr. JONES, Mr. JORDAN, Mr. KELLY, Mr. KING of New York, Mr. KING of Iowa, Mr. KINGSTON, Mr. KINZINGER of Illinois, Mr. KLINE, Mr. LAMBORN, Mr. LANDRY, Mr. LANKFORD, Mr. LATOURETTE, Mr. LATTA, Mr. LEE of New York, Mr. LOBIONDO, Mr. LONG, Mr. LUETKEMEYER, Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California, Mr. MANZULLO, Mr. MARCHANT, Mr. MARINO, Mr. MCCARTHY of California, Mr. MCCAUL, Mr. MCCLINTOCK, Mr. MCCOTTER, Mr. MCHENRY, Mr. MCINTYRE, Mr. MCKINLEY, Mrs. MCMORRIS RODGERS, Mrs. MILLER of Michigan, Mr. GARY G. MILLER of California, Mr. MILLER of Florida, Mr. MULVANEY, Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania, Mr. NEUGEBAUER, Mrs. NOEM, Mr. NUNNELEE, Mr. OLSON, Mr. PAUL, Mr. PENCE, Mr. PETERSON, Mr. PITTS, Mr. POMPEO, Mr. POSEY, Mr. PRICE of Georgia, Mr. RAHALL, Mr. RIBBLE, Mr. RIGELL, Mr. ROE of Tennessee, Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky, Mr. ROKITA, Mr. ROSKAM, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. ROSS of Arkansas, Mr. ROYCE, Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin, Mr. SCALISE, Mr. SCHILLING, Mrs. SCHMIDT, Mr. AUSTIN SCOTT of Georgia, Mr. SCOTT of South Carolina, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Mr. SHIMKUS, Mr. SHULER, Mr. SHUSTER, Mr. SIMPSON, Mr. SMITH of Texas, Mr. STUTZMAN, Mr. SULLIVAN, Mr. TERRY, Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania, Mr. TURNER, Mr. WESTMORELAND, Mr. WHITFIELD, Mr. WILSON of South Carolina, Mr. WOLF, Mr. WOODALL, Mr. YOUNG of Florida, Mr. GOHMERT, Mr. WITTMAN, Mr. CANTOR, Mr. BOREN, Mr. GOODLATTE, Mr. MCKEON, Mr. ROGERS of Michigan, Mr. CALVERT, Mrs. ELLMERS, Mr. ADERHOLT, Mr. TIBERI, and Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To prohibit taxpayer funded handjobs and to provide for conscience protections, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the 'No Taxpayer Funding for Handjob Act'.


Title 1 of the United States Code is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:



`No funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for any handjob.


`None of the funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by Federal law, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of handjob.

`For taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this section--

`(1) no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a handjob or with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of handjob,

`(2) for purposes of determining any deduction for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer's spouse or dependents, amounts paid or incurred for a handjob or for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of handjob shall not be taken into account, and

`(3) in the case of any tax-preferred trust or account the purpose of which is to pay medical expenses of the account beneficiary, any amount paid or distributed from such an account for a handjob shall be included in the gross income of such beneficiary.


`No health care service furnished--

`(1) by or in a health care facility owned or operated by the Federal Government; or

`(2) by any physician or other individual employed by the Federal Government to provide health care services within the scope of the physician's or individual's employment,

may include handjob.


`Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting any individual, entity, or State or locality from purchasing separate handjob coverage or health benefits coverage that includes handjob so long as such coverage is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by Federal law and such coverage shall not be purchased using matching funds required for a federally subsidized program, including a State's or locality's contribution of Medicaid matching funds.


`Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as restricting the ability of any non-Federal health benefits coverage provider from offering handjob coverage, or the ability of a State or locality to contract separately with such a provider for such coverage, so long as only funds not authorized or appropriated by Federal law are used and such coverage shall not be purchased using matching funds required for a federally subsidized program, including a State's or locality's contribution of Medicaid matching funds.


`Nothing in this chapter shall repeal, amend, or have any effect on any other Federal law to the extent such law imposes any limitation on the use of funds for handjob or for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of handjob, beyond the limitations set forth in this chapter.

`Nothing in this chapter or any other Federal law shall be construed to require any State or local government to provide or pay for any handjob or any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of any handjob.


`The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to a handjob--

`(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or

`(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless a handjob is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.


`In this chapter:

`(1) Any reference to funds appropriated by Federal law shall be treated as including any amounts within the budget of the District of Columbia that have been approved by Act of Congress pursuant to section 446 of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act (or any applicable successor Federal law).

`(2) The term `Federal Government' includes the government of the District of Columbia.


`(a) Nondiscrimination- A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance (either directly or indirectly), may not subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for handjobs.

`(b) Health Care Entity Defined- For purposes of this section, the term `health care entity' includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.

`(c) Remedies-

`(1) IN GENERAL- The courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to prevent and redress actual or threatened violations of this section by issuing any form of legal or equitable relief, including--

`(A) injunctions prohibiting conduct that violates this section; and

`(B) orders preventing the disbursement of all or a portion of Federal financial assistance to a State or local government, or to a specific offending agency or program of a State or local government, until such time as the conduct prohibited by this section has ceased.

`(2) COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION- An action under this subsection may be instituted by--

`(A) any health care entity that has standing to complain of an actual or threatened violation of this section; or

`(B) the Attorney General of the United States.

`(d) Administration- The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall designate the Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services--

`(1) to receive complaints alleging a violation of this section;

`(2) subject to paragraph (3), to pursue the investigation of such complaints in coordination with the Attorney General; and

`(3) in the case of a complaint related to a Federal agency (other than with respect to the Department of Health and Human Services) or program administered through such other agency or any State or local government receiving Federal financial assistance through such other agency, to refer the complaint to the appropriate office of such other agency.


`In this chapter the term `health benefits coverage' means the package of services covered by a managed care provider or organization pursuant to a contract or other arrangement.'.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where are we headed, where are we now?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Following the news these last few days has made me sad and frustrated about my country's political landscape.

This morning, four days after the tragic assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in which 6 people died and 14 others were injured (including Rep. Giffords, who was shot through the head and still in critical condition).  Immediately following, there was much discussion in the blogosphere, twitter, the news,  heck, all over the Internet about the role our vitriolic political discourse, notably the rhetoric associated with ex-Governor of Alaska and former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the Tea-Party movement may have played in this shooting.  I think this is a healthy discussion to have.

I do not blame Sarah Palin for the shooting.  I do not blame the Tea Parties for the shooting.  I may have something more to say on this, but this is not what I want to blog about here.

This morning, Ms. Palin released a statement about the shooting:

It starts off as a good statement, but I started to disagree with the assertion in the fifth paragraph:

After this shocking tragedy, I listened at first puzzled, then with concern, and now with sadness, to the irresponsible statements from people attempting to apportion blame for this terrible event.
There are a couple of paragraphs on individual responsibility that follow - I don't completely agree, but that's not the point about what I'm blogging about here.  When I read the eighth paragraph, I was filled with horror and sadness, frustration and anger.  I was speechless - sure, I could make some stupid smartass comment, but all that seemed hollow.  The only thing I could mutter, was "oh my god.  she didn't.  oh my god."  But she did.  Talking about vitriolic rhetoric (especially discussions about her rhetoric, her target map which put crosshairs over Rep. Giffords's district and talked about reloading):
But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
I think she's right to not be blamed for the shootings.  But when she describes people attributing blame to her as "blood libel" she's calling forth something very powerful.  She's bringing up an evil that has existed for centuries, an ancient evil that has resulted in millions of innocent deaths, millions of ruined lives.  And shame, shame on her for doing this.

Let's talk about Blood Libel.

You can go look up Blood Libel on wikipedia or whatever.  I'm going to pull many examples from there.

  I first learned about in an anthropology class in college -t he professor's book about it is a fascinating and horrifying read.  The Blood libel legend: a casebook in anti-Semitic folklore

The Blood Libel is the idea that Jewish people kidnap and ritually sacrifice children, often Christian children, so that their blood may be used to make Passover matzohs.  If you look at the history of anti-Semitism over the last couple of millenia, you will see this accusation towards Jews made repeatedly, from as early as the first century.  This blood libel has led to persecution of Jews.  Show trials.  Lynchings.  Murders.  The use of it in mass exterminations took off in the Middle Ages when the boy William of Norwich was found dead with stab wounds, and the Jewish community was blamed for ritually executing William. Dozens of Jews were murdered or executed because of this one incident.

I think it's incredibly tasteless for Palin to claim she's a victim of "a blood libel," especially when the Congressperson who was the prime target of this Saturday's assassination attempt is a Jewish woman.

Over the centuries since William of Norwich, the Blood Libel has fed anti-Semitic propaganda in Europe, and most times, some number of Jews died as a result, often horrifically.  The Middle Ages saw the formation of what I would call Christian death cults, to memorialize allegedly martyred children, at times even to sanctify these alleged victims of the Jews.  It shows up in the Canterbury Tales (the Prioress' Tale).

There have been many attempts to put an end to the Blood Libel.  Pope Innocent IV in 1247 tried to annul all measures adopted and to dissolve all cults formed related to the Blood Libel.  Pope Gregory X issued a papal letter rejecting the Blood Libel in the 1270's.  The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire tried to denounce the Blood Libel in the 1550's.  In 1961 Pope John XXIII had a plaque placed in the church of Judenstein absolving Jew of the murder of the alleged martyr Andrew of Rinn, supposedly murdered on the "Jew Stone" in 1462 (the fresco and statue there still stand, I believe)  Even in 2003, an advisor to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak published a denunciation of the Blood Libel, calling it a myth.

But despite all of this, the Blood Libel lives on and on.  It has appeared in Nazi propaganda. It has shown up in the Middle East in books, drama, film (often alongside the infamous anti-Semitic "Protocols of the Elders of Zion").  It has shown up in a request to the Russian Duma to enact laws against Jewish groups of being "anti-Christian" and referencing ritual murder, in 2005 (these 2005 legislative calls were rejected).  And today, Sarah Palin summoned it forth, comparing the bad press she's been getting about a stupid target map to this persistent persecution of Jewish people.

Psychological Considerations of Blood Libel

There are some notable practices in the Judaic tradition regarding blood and sacrifice.  "Thou shalt not kill" forbids murder, for example.  If you look at dietary laws, there are many prohibitions against the use of blood in cooking.  There are very specific requirements with regards to animal sacrifice, which, at the time of the Middle ages, were not possible (due to the Temple in Jerusalem not standing).  Human sacrifice is specifically forbidden in the Old Testament.

There is nothing about using human blood to make Passover matzohs.

So what's going on?  Where did this bizarre association with blood and matzohs and Jews come from?  Alan Dundes wrote an essay in his book: The Ritual Murder or Blood Libel: A Study of Anti-Semitic Victimization through Projective Inversion that sheds some light on the matter.  If anti-Semitic bigotry is to exist, it helps to have a reason, no matter how twisted and distorted.

It is essential to place the Blood Libel legend in the context of Christianity.  A vital element of Christianity is the crucifixion of Jesus.  There needs to be an apotheosis from the worldly Jesus Christ to the Divine Jesus (and some will argue that there never was a difference) through the Crucifixion and Resurrection.  Christianity would be very different - arguably, it might not exist today - without these legendary events.  Parts of some Crucifixion narratives include the role of the Jewish people.  Although the Jews did not kill one of their own (i.e. it was the Romans who killed Jesus), there is an undercurrent in Christian belief in which some attribute the death of Jesus to the Jews (this is where the hateful idea of Jews as "Christ Killers" comes from).

[ Though I'm not convinced the film is representative of mainstream Christianity, one of the criticisms of Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" in 2004, where, in at least an early script, the Jewish religious orthodoxy led by Caiaphas was portrayed as seeking Jesus's death, and even Pontius Pilate had offered clemency to Jesus before an angry mob, but was overruled by the crowd, and thus Pilate had no choice but to reluctantly have Jesus crucified.  This is, perhaps, a modern representation of Jews as "Christ Killers." ]

With this in mind, one of the driving forces of Christian anti-Semitism is the supposed Jewish role in an essential element of the the Christian faith, the Crucifixion of Christ.  Thus the Crucifixion can be interpreted symbolically as a ritual sacrifice of Christ by the Jews.

I'm not a big follower of Freud, but there are concepts of his that are relevant.  The first is Freudian projection.  Generally, we assume that people act similarly, so if one behaves in a certain way, that person assumes, i.e. projects, that others will behave similarly.  There's another idea, "projective inversion" where one's undesireable thoughts, motives, desires towards something or someone are "projected" onto someone or something, as a way of justifying one's own individual thoughts, motives desires.  "I hate him" becomes "He hates me, therefore it is OK for me to hate him back."  This idea of projective inversion is key, I believe, in interpreting the Blood Libel legend.

The next clue is the role of the Eucharist in the Christian Church.  The consumption of bread and wine as part of this tradition represents symbolic consumption of the flesh and blood of Christ.  In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, this transubstantiation means the literal flesh and blood of Christ are being consumed.  But is this cannibalism?  Historically, this has been an accusation made of early Christians, that they were cannibalizing their God.  From a Christine doctrinal point of view, it is not cannibalism, but arguably, doctrine defines cannibalism away in this case.

But from a symbolic point of view, the Eucharist may be described as Christian ritual requiring the consumption of wafers/bread as the flesh of Christ along with wine as the blood of Christ.  Compare this with the Blood Libel accusation where Jews sacrifice Christians so that blood may be used for Passover matzohs.

Anti-Semitic Christians dislike or hate Jews.  But through projective inversion, in the eyes of the anti-Semitic Christian, this becomes, Jews hate Christians.  This is corroborated by the Christ-Killer meme that persists just outside of mainstream Christianity.  Furthermore, the Eucharist is transformed through projective inversion to be the ritual consumption of Christian blood and flesh, the ritual cannibalism for which early Christians were persecuted.  In this tradition, the Blood Libel becomes, symbolically, a ceremonial re-enactment of the murder of Christ by Jews.  Which, for the devout anti-Semitic Christian serves as a call to action against Jews, and act they have, as has been demonstrated throughout history, and from time to time even today.

About Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin's clumsy use of Blood Libel - something that has been associated with anti-Semitic hatred for centuries, if not millennia - it truly is an ancient evil - her invocation of it is appalling.   I know that she's a devout Christian in the Pentecostal tradition.  I don't know if her particular branch espouses the evil "Christ-Killer" meme.  In her response to the shooting she describes herself as a victim in this tragic shooting as a response to assertions (which, again, I don't believe) that Palin is to blame by virtue of her rhetoric.  Palin has evoked the anti-Semitic Blood Libel to frame herself as the victim where the true victims of this tragedy are dead or seriously, if not critically wounded, where the main target of this violence was a Jewish woman. 

I'm glad this is a country where she's free to say things like this, because now I think we know better who Sarah Palin is.  I've never been convinced that she was a leader I could get behind, but today she went too far, and I don't see myself ever voting for her.  I'm convinced that she doesn't have what it takes to be a responsible leader; by invoking this old, anti-Semitic evil, her bad judgment has convinced me she's bad for America and bad for our cherished American way of life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Basic summary: the radiation exposure from these newish full-body x-ray scanners is small, and really nothing to be worried about.  Nekkid pix and/or TSA groping is a different issue.

Here's a really fabulous discussion from twitter about the TSA's new backscatter x-ray full-body imaging systems, and the radiation risks from the delivered dose, captured 11/17/2010, about noon PST, roughly 2-3hrs after the conversation occurred.  I've curated it here to make it a bit more readable, and have maybe cleaned up a typo or two.

PhysicistLisa's "rant" starts here:
@PhysicistLisa Lisa M
Ok friends it's rant time though I prefer think of it as educating with numbers.
If you believe that the new TSA policies are necessarily invasive,  please don't weaken  your case by spouting off about radiation dose
Making easily falsifiable statements will hurt your case, particularly if this goes to court. It is a lie that the doses are "unknown"
Prominent experts in the field of radiation science HAVE done dose calculations of these scanners and estimate them at .005-.009 mrem
Now let's just say... just say for the sake of conservatism (what I do at my job every day) that this is off by an order of magnitude
So we pick the highest estimate and mark it off by 1 order of magnitude, at 0.09 mrem...
By moving from Atlanta to Colorado,  I upped my annual dose by 52 mrem per year. because there is more uranium in the soil here and more cosmic radiation dose as I am at a higher elevation.
This means that I would have to stand in that scanner 578 x's to make up the difference in radiation dose between 1 yr in CO vs. [1 yr in] GA
and that's making an assumption of an order of magnitude error by people who are absolute experts in the area of dose calculation

If you think that the privacy concerns should be fought, you are potentially harming the eventual court case by allowing emotionally charged non-science to be considered at all on the agenda. Please consider standing out against this. it will help your case in the long run.
 Making any one part of an argument look foolish when faced with facts will make people think about how much they believe the rest of it.

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
A few people have brought this article to my attention @mik3cap @popsciguy
I stand by the numbers i have stated and also by the statement that the doses calced by *outside groups* DO consider the dose is to the skin

normalizing the dose calc to a whole body dose is a common practice for compliance with fed regs, however there are regs for organ dose too
If you read the letter of concern note that there is no actual numbers presented for the extra risks discussed.
as a professional, i do not trust sources that discuss "dangers" with no numbers or calculations associated with them.
and i think that reading his addendums to the article at the bottom really says a lot.
Though imo saying the "cancer risks are not well understood"is a lot like saying "the effects of vaccines on autism are not well understood"
FYI, i hadn't read that article before because i broke up with Gizmodo a while ago for their tendency to not present the fact

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
and honestly... i thought about putting it all in a blog post and i still might, but if i link a blog you're a lot less likely to read it :)

@bird2brain John McKee
@PhysicistLisa How does the scan compare with the subsequent flight? Also, Aren't there two types of scanners? THANKS!

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
.@bird2brain the estimate of 6 hours flight is generally accepted to be 2 mrem, so the dose from the scanner is much less than the flight
.@bird2brain yes, millimeter wave scanners are non-ionizing (like cell phone or MRI) & backscatter rad are ionizing (like an x-ray or CT)
.@bird2brain 2 different kinds of rad with two completely different sets of potential and theoretical health effects

Physicsguru Curtis Meisenheimer
@PhysicistLisa Isn't the issue more of the type of radiation, ie X-ray vice gamma. Therefore, the dose is absorbed locally in the skin...
@PhysicistLisa as opposed to whole body radiation exposure?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
.@Physicsguru x-ray and gamma are both e-mag ionizing radiation, just x are emitted by electrons and gamma is emitted by the nucleus
.@Physicsguru dose calculated to the skin or any other organ is normalized to a whole body equivalent for compliance with regulation
.@Physicsguru the fact that this is a skin dose *has* been considered.


GeekStuffOG Matt Cipoletti
@PhysicistLisa just to be clear we are saying that the radiation portion of the argument is hulaballoo but the privacy issues are legit?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@GeekStuffOG yes. that is what i'm saying. i just hate seeing a legitimate argument being marred by bad science


jduvel Jason Duvel
@PhysicistLisa ...what about pilots who may be scanned multiple times per day depending on their flights, and for many years? ...

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
.@jduvel well you saw my numbers... compared to their flights the scanners are not really a concern for pilots. It's an increasing trend to badge pilots (give them an external radiation dose monitor) so they know the dose they are getting in a year.


PhoinixArt Phoinix
@PhysicistLisa Question: Would there be added risk associated with air-crew continually using them? Adding onto their doses from flying etc?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@PhoinixArt compared to the dose they get from the flight itself, it would take a long time for it to add up to a couple extra flights


thefoodgeek Brian J. Geiger
@PhysicistLisa So the argument about the radiation being absorbed into a small percentage of the body volume is likewise irrelevant?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
.@thefoodgeek it's not irrelevant, it's accounted for in the dose calculations that have been done, despite what the media has told you


GlennF Glenn Fleishman
@stradling @PhysicistLisa It’s not that I dispute the science. I dispute the veracity of the scanner makers. Dose calcs ≠ clinical msrments

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@GlennF i'm not basing my numbers off of the scanner makers my numbers are from outside groups like the Health Physics Society @stradling
@GlennF and the experiments that have been done so far show doses less than calculated.


bird2brain John McKee
@PhysicistLisa But the backscatter is still not much of a concern?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@bird2brain in my professional opinion? no i would not worry about the dose from backscatter radiation.


jduvel Jason Duvel
@PhysicistLisa Though even using your order of magnitude # with 4 scans a day and 200 days of flying comes up to 72 mrem/year.

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@jduvel which is lower than the dose to the public of 100 mrem/yr enforced by 10CFR20. Radiation workers are allowed a higher dose even


popthestack Ryan Martinsen
@PhysicistLisa can you post your sources for the studies you've read?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M


PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@particle_person i don't think that there's any credible calculations that would say this technology will cause a few extra deaths a year
@particle_person but your point is an interesting philosophical one. i don't know enough about terrorists risk rates to say for sure
markbeadles Mark Beadles
@PhysicistLisa Agreed about individual radiation risk, but is aggregate radiation risk > aggregate terror risk?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@markbeadles i don't know enough about aggregate terror risk to comment for sure but anyone who's telling you that the scanners are going to kill multiple people a year are not using defensible calculation technique

Physicsguru Curtis Meisenheimer
@PhysicistLisa Understandable. Isn't mm-wave superior since it isn't ionizing? Or do they lose resolution?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@Physicsguru i'm not entirely sure. over all there is no proven risk to low levels of non-ionizing so safer, in essence yes.


treelobsters Tree Lobsters!
@PhysicistLisa How much extra radiation exposure does someone get from flying at 30000 feet? i.e. is it more or less than the scanner

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@treelobsters 2 mrem for a 6 hour flight. much more


GeekStuffOG Matt Cipoletti
@PhysicistLisa anyopinion on safety for pregnant women?

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@GeekStuffOG your dose would be much higher on the plane ride itself. read here
@GeekStuffOG that addresses the us and canada's stance on flying during pregnancy.
@GeekStuffOG the fact of the matter is that it is mostly skin dose and the baby isn't actually that close to the surface


Finguz Paul Finlay
@PhysicistLisa So "I don't like the invasion of privacy and the fewer mrems the better, no matter how small the dose" isn't unreasonable? :)

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@Finguz i think that worrying about .009 mrem is a little unreasonable honestly. The things you do in a day that alter you by .009 mrem...
@Finguz i completely stand by the right to privacy though. i just worry people will weaken their court case when they are inevitably made to look foolish on the stand if they start to bring up the rad dose...


GlennF Glenn Fleishman
@PhysicistLisa @stradling Experiments by whom? Who provided #s used for calculations? My assumption starts with notion that scanner...

PhysicistLisa Lisa M
@GlennF the ones i have been able to actually read the full calculations by are by Arizona State University and the Health Physics Society

 [there's actually a quite a bit of dialogue between @GlennF and @PhysicistLisa - I encourage you to check it out]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A friend of mine - well, actually, she's one of the bartenders at the neighborhood watering hole - has just launched a quarterly, Whore! Magazine.  On their facebook page, the question was posed: What is feminism?

One basic principle came to mind, something I'd in the past always used as a quick definition of what feminism means to me: Equal pay for equal work.

But this isn't enough, is it?  In many ways, this idea of equal pay for equal work follows from the economic shifts during WW2, when women entered the job force to fill the roles that were held by men, now fighting overseas.  It was somewhat of a novelty, and compensation was not at the level of men's compensation, but it was essential for the war effort.   After the war and after the GIs returned, having tasted financial independence, many women couldn't go back to their previous role as housewives.

But there's more to feminism - where is the suffrage, for example.  What about sexuality?  What about other aspects of gender dynamics I eventually threw this together - it's what I think feminism is, or what I think it should be, today.  It's a little sloppy, but I like it.  Maybe I'll clean it up at some point.

feminism is a clear path to the top rung of the ladder
feminism is
walking down the street in the middle of the night with nary a concern
feminism is being able to make your own decisions about your body
feminism is equal compensation for equal merit
feminism is making sure the doors are open for all
feminism still has a ways to go

Amanda Recupido, who I know through twitter (and we have common friends, it turns out) has a blog This Is What A Feminist Looks Like.  The blog shows pictures of women living their lives.  There is not "feminist" look - these are pictures of women from all walks of life, doing all sorts of different things.  This made me think of one woman in particular: Jenny Hodgers.

I hadn't made this connection previously, but I've always thought of war as chaos, unleashing all sorts of unpredictable energies that can completely transform a society, not least of which, it can shatter it, if you're on the losing side.  And WWII seemed to have improved the lot of American women economically, and as a consequence, socially.  Here's a public radio piece about a woman who fought in the US Civil War, and she was transformed because of it:  In Civil War, Woman Fought For Freedom Like A Man
Albert Cashier, right.

Her name was Jennie Hodgers; her nom de guerre was Albert Cashier.

Here's an excerpt from the piece, but I encourage you to give it a listen.

LINDA PAUL: To get an idea why Jennie Hodgers may have subjected herself to the rigors of war, you need to know a little about the U.S. job market in 1861.

Ms. DEANNE BLANTON (Co-Author, "They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War"): Well, a private in the Union Army made $13 a month, which was easily double what a woman would make as a laundress, or a seamstress or even a maid.
Ms. BLANTON: But once they were in the pants and earning more money and spending their money, they seemed to greatly enjoy the freedom that came with being perceived as a man.

PAUL: Women at the time of the Civil War couldn't vote. They mostly depended on men to survive. In return, they were supposed to devote their time and talents entirely to husbands, children and their extended families. That was the Victorian ideal...that was mostly aimed at middle and upper-class women, and they're not the ones who went off to war.

Ms. BLANTON: The women who went to war, who disguised themselves as men and carried a gun, were overwhelmingly working-class women, immigrant women, poor women, urban women and yeoman farm girls.

PAUL: Jennie Hodgers part of this group. She was an immigrant from Clogherhead, Ireland, who couldn't read or write. By the end of the war, she needed to make some tough decisions about her identity. If she stayed Albert Cashier, it was more likely she'd find work, keep the friends she made during the war and be part of a respected community of Civil War veterans.

Ms. BLANTON: She can have a bank account. She can vote in elections - and she did, by the way. Or, if she goes back and puts on a dress and tells everyone that she's Jennie, she has just lost her entire life.

PAUL: Jennie's decision: to continue her life as a man.

The radio piece goes on to describe what happens to Albert/Jennie:

PAUL: It's not Jennie Hodgers' name that's read on Memorial Day because it's Albert the town remembers. And it wasn't Jennie, the doctor sent to an insane asylum at the end of her life, it was Albert's name on the commitment papers.

PAUL: Here's what happened: late in her life, Jennie Hodgers was still living undetected as Albert Cashier in Saunemin, but at age 67, when she was hit by a car, she was sent to live at a soldiers' and sailors' home for disabled war vets. A couple of people there knew her secret, but remarkably, it was a few years before it slipped out and made it into newspapers around the country. That's when the Pension Bureau launched its fraud investigation.

At about the same time, Cashier had become confused and noisy. Her condition was what today we'd probably call dementia. But back then, as was typical, she was deemed insane and dispatched to an asylum. The identity she had chosen was ignored, or as they may have seen it, corrected. She was placed in the women's ward and forced to wear skirts.

Ms. O'DONNELL: It was so devastating to her that she would take pins and pin the skirt together between the legs to make them look like pants. And when she did that, they were very awkward 'cause they were so baggy, and she fell. And the fall resulted in an infection, and she never ever recovered from the infection. That was the cause of the death.

PAUL: In the end, Jennie Hodgers did get rid of that dreaded cumbersome skirt. Albert Cashier's comrades made sure that she was buried in her soldier's uniform.  And that she received a proper military funeral.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

New York City Thoughts

I've been thinking about New York City and the 9/11/2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon nine years ago.  Here is a holiday card that was sent out that year by the Park Slope Gallery.  

Today, nine years later, because of these attacks, we are enmeshed in two wars in the Middle East, with blood directly spilled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.  Our country is deeply divided over the conduct and execution of the war on our part.  In addition to the 3000+ lives lost in America that horrible day, we've lost nearly 5,500 US military lives not to mention an additional 1,000 coalition military lives as well as about 10,000 lives from the Iraqi security forces and almost 48,000 Iraqi civilian lives since 2005 (with low-bound estimates of about 22,000 reported Iraqi deaths for 2003 and 2004 including the invasion phase and higher civilian casualty estimates of about 425,000 to 800,000 for the period of March 2003 to June 2006).  In Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009, estimates are around 10,000 to 13,000 civilian lives lost and around 4,000 to 5,000 Afghan police and military lives lost.  And I am not even going into the numbers of people wounded but not killed.

The image from this peace rally in NYC's Union Square after the 9/11 attacks was taken and assembled by gallery director Phyllis Wrynn.  I am often moved, sometimes to the brink of tears, by the power of the image, the power of its timeless message.  Within a week of the tragedy and horror that gripped the city, our nation, and for a time, the world, somehow citizens of New York City came together amidst the roiling raw emotions of the time to call for not blood nor revenge, but for peace and justice.  I've thought of this image and Gandhi's quotation so many many times over the years since the attacks - so powerful, so important, and yet so easily forgotten, much to the peril of all of us who seek to make our world a better place.

My great thanks to Phyllis and The Park Slope Gallery for helping to dig up a copy of the original card for me several months ago!  And also: bonus image from NYC photographer George Forss.  Check out his Landmark Photos in the Park Slope Gallery store.

[ If I may indulge in a wee bit of intellectual masturbation:

The numbers represent a hell of a lot of blood from war deaths- if you assume 4.5 liters of blood in an adult, that would be over 120,000 gallons of blood (based on the low end of the number of deaths, and this doesn't count those who are wounded and do not die).  

The standard oil barrel is 42 gallons, so we're talking about 11,000 barrels of blood so far from these two wars minimum. Interesting fact: the estimated oil consumption for the US, EU and China combined is about 42 million barrels PER DAY.

This is a bullshit comparison, of course, I mean, how many natural deaths occur, and what's that blood volume?  Or volume of urine produced per day.  Etc etc etc.  Also, a huge problem with thinking of the Afghan war in terms of blood-for-oil is that Afghanistan itself doesn't have much in the way of petroleum fields.  On the other hand, one can (and I do) argue that much of the money that is/was funding al Qaeda at the time of the 9/11 attacks had its source in Saudi oil profits, as well as the wealth of the bin Laden family and its various industries, such as construction engineering. ]