Archive for August, 2003


cheese blah

So not in the mood for anything right now.

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Drugs, kids

Amazed at this article from yesterday’s paper: Drug tests are rarely done in N.J. schools

Few New Jersey school districts randomly test their students for drugs, and none appears ready to start a new drug-testing program in September.

Fewer than a dozen of the state’s 615 school districts have random drug-testing programs, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

I could barely believe that this was the case…

A divided Supreme Court ruled that students in public schools have a diminished right to privacy under the state constitution and that Hunterdon Central Regional High School’s policy was not unreasonable or unfair.

Hunterdon randomly tests student-athletes, students who participate in other after-school activities and even those who park their cars on campus, said principal Lisa Brady…

…Hunterdon Central, whose testing pool includes about 80 percent of the high school’s 2,500 students.

…but the entire article expresses surprise that more schools aren’t doing the same thing. Wow. How appalling. Few NJ schools are interested in treating their students as automatic suspects and banning them from extra-curricular activities or car parking if they object. (The “extra-curricular activities” thing is a transparent way to make this effectively random testing, but technically not.) Oh, but it’s drugs we’re talking about here, isn’t it? So that makes it okay. Any one of the holy trinity of drugs, paedophilia and terrorism excuses anything.

I was looking for even a slight justification of why students in public schools should have a diminished right to privacy somehow but wasn’t able to find one, apart from “this isn’t really so bad”, but even one of the judges voting for this said:

“We state again that our holding is not to be construed as an automatic green light for schools wishing to replicate Hunterdon Central’s program,”

…though obviously, from this article, the assumption now is that it is an automatic green light.

As usual, look for the money, and it didn’t surprise me to read that there’s quite a bit of money involved in this practice.

Costs of $20, or even $60, per student may not seem like a lot. But consider this: A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education of nine schools with testing programs revealed an average cost of $42 per tested student. A high school of 1,000 students that randomly tests 50% its students at this cost per test spends $21,000 on preliminary testing alone, not to mention subsequent tests throughout the year. More expensive lab-based follow up testing for initial positive tests raises total costs significantly. One school’s program cost $36,500 for one year, a considerable amount for understaffed or under-resourced schools.

Don’t look at the studies saying that school drug testing doesn’t even reduce drug use, let alone improve learning, which is what schools are supposed to be for, I thought, rather than law enforcement.

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Feels like being on dial-up again

I’m downloading the Mac Unseen Tournament demo (47.4 meg) at the rate of about 5K per second. I expect there are faster mirrors out there than this one, which I think is Australian, but I couldn’t get onto any of them. Knowing my luck it won’t run at all once I get it due to some graphics card problem.

While waiting for that, I’ve been making pesto, and a salad. Making the pesto involved washing, rolling, and chopping the basil, chopping the pine nuts, grating the fresh parmesan, and crushing the garlic. Given the number of sauces and smushes (my term for anything like pesto or hummus that involves ingredients smushed together and that’s it) people are often surprised that I don’t have a blender. Well, first of all, I don’t have room for one in my kitchen, though I could keep it in a cupboard and only take it out when it was needed. More importantly, it would take away my major reason for cooking. I don’t actually cook to eat, you know. Half the time I don’t eat this stuff at all. I taste it while I’m cooking it, maybe dip some onion chips in or a piece of bread, then Tupperware it and put it in the fridge. A couple of weeks later I find it’s gone mouldy and I throw it away. » Continue reading “Feels like being on dial-up again”

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This is you they are talking about

Medical acronyms and slang, some of which I’ve heard about myself.

Amongst others…

Amyoyo syndrome – Alright motherf*****, you’re on your own (seen in head injury patients in Intensive Care)
Celestial transfer – died (transferred to the Eternal Care Unit)
HVLP- High Velocity Lead Poisoning: gunshot wound
PRATFO – Patient Reassured And Told to F*** Off
Pneumo-cephalic – airhead

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It is a lot easier to make hummus with a masher than with a wooden spoon.

Dayyum. Lightning very, very close – just set off someone’s car alarm, thunder almost at the same time as lightning. I have a surge protector, but if I suddenly go offline, you know what’s happened….

Earlier on I went out to do some shopping and I was sweating hideously by the time I returned. When I got back it started raining. It’s continued.

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Tonight’s achievement

Through the miracle of folders, I have completely cleared my inbox.


There must have been some sort of alignment of heavenly bodies. I managed to do it by accident at work once – CTRL-A, DEL, F9, fifteen hundred bits of pointless shite wiped out making no difference whatsoever – but this is my personal mailbox.

Most of the contents are coupons from Barnes & Noble or things I haven’t got around to replying to. I suppose there were no special croutons left, and I’ve replied to everything.

Bored now. I recommend that everyone deletes their entire work inbox though. Go on. If you haven’t filed it, it’s going to be shite. You can always pretend you did it by accident if people ask you, and it’s a great excuse to ignore meetings – “oh, sorry, must have deleted that one”. Nuke your inbox today! Or, er, on Monday, or on Tuesday if you’re a yank or yank resident and get Labor Day off. (I’m happy enough to have a proper holiday for once that I will spell it in the American fashion.)

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Jesus good! Dope bad!

From “education” site

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University:

* Teens who use drugs are 5 times more likely to have sex than are those teens who do not use drugs.

Dude! Fire up the bong, we’re going to get laid at last! Is this really supposed to be an anti-drug site, or has there been sabotage?

Then again, this is the site that manages to go through loads of reasons why people take drugs but leave out “because they make them feel good”. And I particularly like the “summer’s here, don’t get baked or anything” page.

I’m starting to love things like this site and Revolve, the New Testament in the form of a lame teen magazine.

In one hypothetical question and answer, a girl asks, “How do you tell a friend that’s your crush that you’re into him without ruining your friendship?” Revolve counsels her: “You don’t. Sorry. … God made guys to be the leaders. That means that they lead in relationships.”

I look at it like it’s media vaccination. These things are all so fucking useless, no vaguely savvy teenager could seriously believe them. They’ll just grow up even more resistant to propaganda, and be even better at dealing with the serious stuff later on, the propaganda done by the real pros. I thank the media gods that no adult that cares about this stuff really understands teenagers, or the media, or life in general, and that this shows through so obviously.

Incidentally, I’m thinking of removing the “rants” category from this blog since so many entries are rants anyway.

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Uh, okay, that was unexpected

Bottomless glass I had just carefully poured myself a beer, and was holding the glass in front of me, when the bottom fell cleanly off the glass and twelve fluid ounces of Sam Adams Vienna Style Lager landed on the carpet.

That’s not something I’ve experienced before.

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Drugs on the motorway

Suburban drivers fat and rubbish – something that didn’t surprise me as I walked back the couple of miles from the doctor’s this afternoon, taking me an hour:

per trip, American pedestrians are roughly three times more likely to be killed by a passing car than are German pedestrians – and more than six times more likely than Dutch pedestrians. For bicyclists, Americans are twice as likely to be killed as Germans and more than three times as likely as Dutch cyclists.

In Europe, people make 33 percent of their trips by foot or bicycle, compared with just 9.4 percent of Americans’ trips.

Why can these Europeans walk and bike more, and more safely, than Americans? It’s not just travel distance – 41 percent of U.S. trips are shorter than 2 miles, yet most are by car.

The issue of it being slightly hazardous for pedestrians to walk in an area with no fucking pavements (that’s sidewalks to you, call them what you want as long as you build them) might be contributory, as well as the generally poor quality of driving that I’ve seen – I thought I’d seen some bad drivers in London, but the proportion here is much higher. Let me explain my frustration. The walk back is from one town, which does have pavements, being fairly old, to an area just outside of it. There are shops continuously along the road, apart from a couple of hundred metres of highway, which ironically is the safest bit to walk along since you can get behind the crash barriers.

The length of this walk is about doubled by the necessity to continually cross the road, since whatever sheep-trail you are using to walk along invariably ends after a short distance. Some junctions actually forbid you to cross at them. I spent five minutes waiting at another, jabbing the “CROSS” button and watching the lights turn from green, to red, to green, to red without the little white man ever appearing. Crossing there without the support of the traffic lights wasn’t really an option during early Friday rush hour. In the end I skipped across a perpendicular illegal junction, clambered onto the verge on the other side and walked along until there was an area of road I could run across.

The most annoying feature is actually the crossroads close to my house. There are crossings on two of the roads, leaving one corner entirely adrift. If you want to get off that corner you have to backtrack at least half a mile to find a legitimate nobody-running-you-over crossing, which in this case would have been the one that wasn’t working.

I am so glad to be moving soon. I’ve decided to go to a town called Manayunk, which is closer to the city, an actual town and reputedly has good public transport, lots of bars and restaurants and supposedly a lot of wannabe New Yorkers. The fun people I’ve met in the company all seem to love the place.

At the doctor’s I saw they’re using SNRIs to treat ADHD. Interesting. It appears the “yes, Ritalin is amphetamines, but it works in an entirely different way if you have ADHD, honest, it’s not drugs” thing has completely died. It always seemed to me to be a sop for parents who didn’t want to feel they were giving their kids speed. Why not? What’s wrong with speed? Can be a very useful drug. Do you give them caffeine? Get over yourself. If they had kidney stones, would you not give them morphine unless someone convinced you it wasn’t working in the same way that junkies use it for?

Whatever this SNRI was called was actually for “adult ADHD” in this leaflet; I didn’t take it with me so I can’t remember the drug name. Adult ADHD is to my mind pushing the limits of what a disorder can reasonably be. I checked the symptom list and they were all stress/anxiety symptoms, apart perhaps from “difficulty in learning” which could be a feature of anxiety anyway. And SNRIs are given for certain cases of anxiety/depression. This would seem to say to me that people are going to be encouraged to take drugs rather than make life changes, because it’s not life events that are the problem, they have a disorder. So, same old psychiatric paradigm, then.

I was prescribed an SNRI once, and took it for a couple of days. I had to stop. I couldn’t sit still, my heart was going at about 100 and I was constantly dripping with sweat. I felt terrific though.

I’ve just had the thought of a million stressed-out SUV-driving suburban officer workers, told they have adult ADHD, pumped up on SNRIs with unusually high noradrenaline levels, on the roads while I’m trying to cross them. Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.

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On Wednesday I was wearing black trousers and a black fitted ribbed top. I looked like the sort of person who owns a Powerbook; the word “espresso” comes to mind. Actually I think it was a good look for me, being a ponce and all.

Yesterday I was wearing a cheap baggy black T-shirt, with the same trousers, haircut etc. I looked like I had a favourite Linux distribution and every season of Buffy on DVD. I should have had a ponytail, even more so than on Wednesday.

Today I’ve got on a a long-sleeved black top which is slightly baggy, not so cheap and has four buttons at the neck. I have no idea what stereotype I conform to with this on, except possibly “messy bastard” since I have covered myself with bits of crisp.

my top, illustrated

You should all play this fantastic game involving islands, squirrels, goats, opium, shrews, and suchlike. Oh, and stupid looking rabbits (that one was from b3ta but I couldn’t resist it).

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