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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

another place to donate for New Orleans

If people are looking for yet another way to help New Orleans, Direct Relief International -- name notwithstanding -- is offering to "replenish medical inventories or provide emergency medical material". Hopefully they'll be able to get these supplies to wherever the refugees are going, as well as any remaining hospitals/clinics still open in the city.

Only wrinkle: their website, as I write this, doesn't have a way to designate donations for Katrina relief. However, there is a place for comments. Enough comments might spur them to set things up for specific Katrina relief donations.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Leaving out the good parts

For some reason, the partial text of the proposed Iraqi constitution that was published in the NY Times and many other media outlets left out some pretty reassuring provisions re the role and treatment of women. That's assuming that the complete version I found at what looks like the Sacramento Bee's website is accurate. It's not an elaborate joke a la Snappleface, is it? If it is, then a big "Never mind...." (NOTE/UPDATE: while I was looking for this text and before I found it, I found the text of the interim constitution -- the one that's been in effect for a while -- and thought that was the new draft's text. I posted a comment on Ambivablog, quoting the interim constitution as though it were the new draft. That comment got quoted in an Ambivablog "Update". So I feel foolish now. I believe the author of Ambivablog will be re-updating sometime soon to note my error, or something.)

Of interest on the women's rights issue:

--The preamble notes that "men and women, young and old" went to the ballot box on January 30, 2005.--The preamble also states that "We the people of Iraq, newly arisen from our disasters and looking with confidence to the future through a democratic, federal, republican system, are determined - men and women, old and young - to respect the rule of law, reject the policy of aggression, pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their cares, the children and their affairs, spread the culture of diversity and defuse terrorism."

--The much discussed provision which the NY Times translation gives as "No law may contradict Islamic standards" is translated in this full Associated Press version as "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Pretty interesting adjective! Any Arabic speakers who can tell us whether this means that no one who counts disputes the truths of Islam, or instead that only the undisputed rules are binding?

--Now here's a nice one: "Article (14): Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ..." Similarly, Article 16 guarantees "equal opportunity" to "all Iraqis". Without Article 14, I might worry that this didn't include women, but....

--"Article (20): Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates."

--Two excerpts from Article 29:"The state shall guarantee the protection of motherhood, childhood and old age and shall take care of juveniles and youths and provide them with agreeable conditions to develop their capabilities." and: "Violence and abuse in the family, school and society shall be forbidden." The first could be read to suggest a protective condescension towards mothers if not for the other provisions I've mentioned. Article 30 also groups women with children as getting special protection re "social and health insurance."

Now, there are some other aspects that could concern civil libertarians, such as freedom of expression if and only if it doesn't violate "public order and morality" (Article 36) -- but that may not differ much from our obscenity laws and our time-place-and-manner restrictions on various protest activities.

Article 45 is a nice catch-all precaution: "Restricting or limiting any of the freedoms and liberties stated in this constitution may only happen by, or according to, law and as long as this restriction or limitation does not undermine the essence of the right or freedom."

I've become gradually convinced that most MSM, including the New York Times, cherry-picks the news out of Iraq to create a discouraging picture. This is another example -- but it's so obvious that I wonder if I'm missing something.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Shuttle Foam -- Try the Original Drawing on the Board

I just read an AP story about the problem with foam on the space shuttle, titled "Nasa Stumped by Shuttle Foam Loss". The article ended with a list of "long-term options". Those options didn't include returning to the original foam formula (unless that was the meaning behind the somewhat cryptic "adding fiber to the foam to make it adhere better"). As I understand it, the original foam formula was abandoned because it included flourocarbons, and fluorocarbons are thought to cause some damage to the ozone layer. I don't know whether this is firmly substantiated -- far from a certainty where claims of environmental damage are concerned -- nor what level of damage we're talking about from what amount of use. But I seriously doubt that the amount of fluorocarbons involved in space shuttle foam is significant enough to justify using a substitute foam that won't stick to the shuttle.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

a magical meme for Harry Potter fans

OK, I've got a meme to propose.

I attended a Harry Potter birthday party yesterday. While most of the guests were adults, there was a table full of craft materials, including glitter-glue bottles and index cards. These inspired me to start making business cards for various business establishments in the Harry Potter universe. Which was fun. Here are the names/slogans I came up with (some of which won't make much sense or have much point unless you're familiar with the books):
--Free Elves Clothing Emporium
--Ministry Censor's Office -- "Better Not to Know"
--Whoosh! Floo Powder Wholesalers
--All Hollow Inn -- Hearty Fare for Hungry Wayfarers
--Wanting Wizard Pawn Shop -- "Knutts for your Knick-Knacks"
--Chocolate Menagerie -- "Frogs are Not Enough"
--Red's Rubbish Removal -- "With Red, It Stays Dead"
--The Waffling Quaffle Tote Shop

So there's the meme: names/slogans for businesses in the Harry Potter magical community.

Anyone want to play?