small d, Big J

What Steven desJardins is interested in.
Monday, September 08, 2003
A scary story in today's Washington Post about a woman who died following routine surgery after doctors gave her two pints of the wrong type blood. She switched to a bed by the window, and the phlebotomist who came to take a blood sample took it from the patient in her old bed without checking the ID bracelet or asking her name.

The story doesn't say whether anyone asked her before the operation what her blood type was. I think they did ask me before my surgery, but I could be wrong. I certainly know my blood type, and in the event I went in for surgery knowing I'd likely be getting a transfusion I'd make sure my doctor knew it too.

Monday, August 18, 2003
Two stories in the Washington Post's Metro section caught my eye today.

The first, D.C. Shooting Investigated as Hate Crime, deals with the murder of a transgendered prostitute. Allegedly, he gave someone a blow job, who then found out that 'she' was a 'he', came back with a gun, and shot him.

This doesn't intuitively fit my idea of what a 'hate crime' is. If somebody is going around shooting black people because they're black, then that's a more heinous crime than just shooting people randomly, because it makes a class of people feel targeted and afraid. If homosexual people are targeted for being homosexual, then it makes them afraid to display their sexual identity openly. These crimes are punished more severely than similar crimes without a hate component because they have social consequences which similar crimes don't have.

Now, this crime happened (assuming the police theory is correct) because the shooter was upset that the transgendered person was transgendered. So it could fit the letter of the hate crime law. But it isn't the sort of crime that strikes fear into the heart of the transgendered community. At worst, it strikes fear into the heart of transgendered prostitutes who conceal their true sex from their clients. I don't think this is a protected class under the law, and I don't think it should be. People have a right to their own sexual preferences, and part of that right is the right to be personally freaked out by homosexuality. I would rather get a blow job from a woman than from a man. I wouldn't feel severely traumatized, much less driven to a homicidal rage, if I found out that the 'woman' who gave me a blow job wasn't actually a woman, but I would be at least mildly upset. I would think that the person who had done this had deceived me--that he had an obligation to be open with information he should have known I might find very relevant--and I think that many people would be upset enough in that situation for it to be reasonably described as sexual violation.

That said, sexual violation is not grounds for summary execution. The attacker in this case should be tried for murder. But it seems like it should be ordinary murder, not as a hate crime.

The second story, Charges Dropped, Man's 'Victims' Take His Side has to do with a false imprisonment lawsuit. A man who matched the description of an elderly couple's mugger spent two weeks in prison, even after the woman said he definitely wasn't the attacker, and the man said he wasn't sure. An apartment employee did postively identify him, but videotape showed a more heavyset man with a receding hairline, which doesn't match the detainee. Furthermore, the gentleman in question worked as a passport courier, and embassy logs showed that he was a the Qatar embassy near the time of the crime. (Police asked a Qatar embassy guard whether he picked up anything that day, the guard said no, and they left. He did drop off documents.)

It's troublesome when police latch onto one suspect and discount evidence pointing away from that suspect. It's downright infuriating when they then go into cover-their-asses mode and insist against all logic that their initial theory is correct. Even now, after it's become apparent to anyone sane that he's innocent, police spokesmen say that they think he's guilty and they consider the case closed. The real criminal is still at large and is getting a free pass because the police don't want to find any evidence that they were wrong. That's malfeasance of the worst kind.

Thursday, August 07, 2003
I've been posting more on Livejournal than over here. The comments facility is nice. I'm considering putting personal stuff over there and political stuff over here, since it seems a waste to just abandon this blog, but I haven't seemed able to summon up the energy for politics lately, so postings may be sparse for a while. In the meantime, I've set up an open thread over there for people to post comments in.

Sunday, July 27, 2003
I planned to write about how I went to see Strangers on a Train last night at the Silver Theatre, followed by a Q&A with Patricia Hitchcock, who had a small part in the movie. I got to the theater not quite an hour before the movie was scheduled to start, planning to get a little something to eat first in the café, and found it was sold out. So instead I'll talk about the play I saw Wednesday night, a punk rock version of Titus Andronicus, and which I mentioned in my last post.

The band was called The Dead Sons of Titus, which seemed inappropriate, since there were only three of them. The style of music was basically limited to "loud", although towards the end there was one song that was in the style of "medium loud". I myself being more towards the Shakespeare than the punk rock end of the spectrum may have missed some of the nuances. Indeed, speaking as one with an utterly uneducated ear, I cannot categorically say that there were no nuances.

My initial impression was that this was basically a one-joke show (if you've read the title, you know the joke), and while mildly amusing, it was going to be a long two hours. But after a while the show grew on me, and there were a couple of very amusing bit, like Lavinia's Ballad, during which I couldn't stop laughing. (This was after they cut out her tongue. Vowel sounds, mostly.) I also liked the part where Lucius lunged at Saturninus and accidentally killed the guitar player. Aaron had suitable gravity, imbuing his villain's part with dignity. Tamara, the Goth Queen (it's as if Shakespeare expected them to make a punk rock musical out of it), was hot. Saturninus was sleazy. The show balanced seriousness with slapstick in much the same way that the original balanced drama with absurd excess. It wasn't a great show, but I'm glad I went.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003
I've seen Titus Andronicus on stage. I've seen the movie. But I've never seen it as a musical.

Tomorrow night, that will all change.

(Well, technically, I guess only the last bit will change. I still will have seen it on stage and as a movie.)

Monday, July 21, 2003
I signed up for Distributed Proofreaders a couple of days ago, and did my first half-dozen pages tonight. It's associated with Project Gutenberg, which converts public domain texts into electronic form and distributes them free over the Internet. Distributed Proofreading allows many people to share the work of proofreading OCR'ed text. Once you register and start working on a project, the web site displays an image of one page along with the scanned text. The first-pass proofreading corrects misscanned words, removes hyphenation over page breaks, regularizes the formatting, etc. A second-pass proofreader then checks the first person's work, and when all the pages have been done a project manager puts the pages together and does a final pass of the text.

Sunday, July 20, 2003
From RISKS Digest:

At least they should then have created a brilliant logo.....

If you were a company called Powergen and you had a subsidiary that operated in Italy, what would you call that company's Web site?.

Probably not

But they really did.

Update: It's not true.

It should be pointed out that while the unfortunately named
really exists, and it has caused much merriment in other newsgroups, too, it
is not the website of Powergen's [a British power company] Italian
subsidiary. As far as I know, Powergen does not even have an Italian

I was a little skeptical, but unfortunately not enough.

Bursitis occurs when one of your joints secretes too much fluid, either from an infection or because of overwork or trauma. Symptoms include "pain, swelling, redness, and heat" (according to a site I Googled). That describes my elbow perfectly, except for the pain, the redness, and the heat. The swelling and the fluid are definitely present, though. There's a soft knob bulging out from my elbow that's soft to the touch and that I can jiggle back and forth.

I've been meaning to see a rheumatologist for some time now, and this seems like a good time. As best as I can tell from nearly five minutes of research, the treatment is to drain the fluid and test it for signs of an infection. If there's an infection, you treat it. If there isn't, you rest the joint and see if the fluid comes back.

The following letter from Steven Patt is an encouraging sign that Bush's honeymoon with the press may be ending:

Dana Priest and Dana Milbank described President Bush's statement that the United States gave Saddam Hussein "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in" as "appearing to contradict the events leading up to war" [front page, July 15].

Wouldn't "a preposterous and outrageous lie" be a more accurate description of the president's statement?

Even a few months ago, a letter criticizing Bush so bluntly would have been unthinkable in a major American newspaper.
I started a LiveJournal journal, mostly so I can post non-anonymous comments to other people's posts, but partly to try it out. I do like the ability to have people comment on my posts. My userid over there is stevendj (desjardins was taken), and the URL is


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