Response To Yet Another Kevorkian Fan

Yet another comment to share... I found the article You Definitely Don’t Know Jack while searching for material I could use in my Salon letter and liked it even though it wasn't quite meaty enough. However, I really didn't care much for one commenter's clueless parroting of Kevorkian's bullshit, so I responded in case someone else might be educated in the future. (I really need to add some kind of little horizontal rule or other mark to show where the beginning of my quoted comments are...hmm.)

Kevorkian only began commenting on terminal patients AFTER he realized that it was his most likely path to legalize live human experimentation, since he wasn't having luck pushing through experiments on prisoners. Tellingly, 75% of his "subjects" weren't terminal, and he picked his subjects for their publicity value rather than their circumstances.

It isn't advocating for a rational adult's freedom when a person talks about performing live experiments on infants with birth defects, people with treatable mental illnesses or cognitive disabilities, etc. If he truly was about mercy, then why has he openly stated that his hope is to experiment on & then kill them legally?

Also notable is that disabled (severe or non) people and those doing hospice care of the terminally ill -- the folks with the most firsthand experience -- are his biggest adversaries. We know better than anybody whether one can have a good life with various problems, what the real roadblocks to achieving one is, and when death actually makes sense (like when pain is beyond merely unbearable *and* there's absolutely no way to control it).

Instead, his supporters are non-disabled, non-terminal folk that assume that our lives are so bad that only rare "strong" types can "tolerate" it. Their reaction is more akin to a child terrified of the dark: rather than try to find out what's really there or listen when one of us tries to show them (then help us all fight to make sure it's not made artificially worse), they fight for the right to run away screaming.

We Do Know Jack, Unfortunately

As is becoming my latest habit, I've decided to share the rather upset comment I posted in response to Salon's usually-good movie critic's naive review of the new bullshit movie about Jack Kevorkian... Only change below is that I'm integrating the links, rather than having them sit out separately.

It's rare that an article makes me literally cry out in frustration, but I have to admit that this one did it... The author clearly shifted from buying into one inaccurate myth about Kevorkian directly to the opposite based purely on what the movie (or its website) has claimed.
Reality is, first, that 75% of Kevorkian's 'subjects' weren't terminal; autopsies showed some (one report is 5) had no serious physical problems at all. Kevorkian has openly regarded assisted suicide as a "distasteful" tactical step in getting society to accept live human experimentation and thus "make it possible to conduct daring and highly imaginative research". His targets in order: disabled babies/kids/adults, criminals, and ultimately healthy young adults who "just don't want to live any more".
Some theoretical cases he described (below details on one real-world man whose body he dissected):
Salon should report on why the overwhelming majority of his patients were female. The links I have below cover the topic with info on the individuals, but a targeted explanation is here.
Some good sites with factual, easy-to-read information on Kevorkian:
Not Dead Yet's articles on Kevorkian

International Task Force on Euthanasia's JK section
Ragged Edge Magazine: The All-Too-Familiar Story

Direct quotes from Kevorkian (from above sites, which have sources cited):
"[T]he voluntary self-elimination of individual and mortally diseased or crippled lives taken collectively can only enhance the preservation of public health and welfare."
"Intense emotionalism engendered by the concentration camp atrocities of World War II has unfairly stigmatized [human experimentation] and cloaked it in silence...Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that a few of the medical criminals did the right thing..."
From his book 'Prescription: Medicide':
"helping suffering or doomed persons to kill themselves . . . is merely . . . a distasteful professional obligation. . . . What I find most satisfying is the prospect of making possible the performance of invaluable experiments or other beneficial acts."
His Goal:
He has described a process by which "subjects," including infants, children, even the mentally incompetent, would be used for experiments " of any kind or complexity." (30) Then, if the subject's body is alive after experimentation, "death may be induced" by such means as "removal of organs for transplantation" or "a lethal dose of a new or untested drug to be administered by an official executioner."
(I've tried finding the original full form of his statement -- I believe it was made to the court -- but I'm not having much luck. It's out there, though.)

[Edited to update links.]

Qemu could not open blah blah arrgh

I've been beating my head against the desk for WEEKS now trying to get Qemu to work with any friggin distro set up by UNetbootin, with or without Gujin to help.  No matter what I tried, the response was qemu: could not open disk image /dev/sdh

Well, after messing with ownership & permissions, I'm a lot closer -- and wanted to document the possible solution for the next person plagued by this issue. (Based on what I saw while searching the web, I'm nowhere near the first or the least-experienced.)  UNetbootin has an annoying little quirk, it turns out: every file it handles becomes owned by root, and evidently key files aren't marked as executable when Qemu thinks they should be. So first you have to give yourself ownership of everything (sudo chown -R yourusername) and then full permissions (sudo chmod a=rwx drivelocation).

With any luck, tomorrow I'll manage to get it to do something more interesting, like boot something...  Non-Ubuntu (and hopefully non-crashing non-slow-on-this-computer) distribution, here I come!

Books & being a second-class Linux user

Well, I'm writing this on my own system after going about 20 hours without being able to make the darn thing boot... My install has a bug in which the system stops responding, but still lets the cursor move around the screen, in which case I have to reboot -- last night, instead of booting right back into Ubuntu, Grub hung. I have a theory as to what "fixed" it (and that it's not fixed, actually) but I'll have to test it out.

At least today I had a nice time out at Borders... I picked up a newer, larger copy of DWJ's Tough Guide To Fantasyland, both pocket & desktop Roget's Thesaurus, Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger's, plus the 2600 Hacker Quarterly: Spring 2010 & Arabian Horse World: Special Edition Winter 2010 magazines. (I was going to also get a nifty medical dictionary that was in the discount shelves out front, but forgot it. Darn!) The clerk looked at my eclectic choice of reading material, and asked me if I needed any of it gift-wrapped. I usually turn a bit red with embarrassment and say no, but since I had to take a full prednisone to control my asthma today, I replied cheerily "nope, it's all for me!"

(I haven't managed to quite make that pronouncement when buying model horses; clerks get weird if I don't somehow indicate that it's supposedly for a kid. Better than the one at the drugstore that, upon learning I refuse to wear dresses and don't care for weddings -- hey, he asked -- gave me a very strange look.  I seem to be "unexpected" in most facets of my life!)

I also briefly visited Toys R Us to see if they had any Breyers (yes, but the paintjobs were so hideous I didn't get any). They had signs all over asking for donations to "cure autism" at the cash register...fuck that, I'll write them a note refusing to spend my money there. Between that and Borders moving all positive autistic autobiographies out of the hateful autism section -- I am seriously considering going back 'out of the closet' and wearing some kind of autistic pride shirt. (I went back "in the closet" years ago because of all the vicious bashing from curebies -- I was afraid that if I wore a shirt, their nastiness would start appearing in my real life, too. Last thing I need is some unglued parent screaming that I'm a fake in the middle of CVS...)

Anyway, while wandering through my newsreader, I found a link to a blog post agreeing with a troubling attitude that's hardly new, but seems to be growing in popularity... Namely, that anybody that isn't comfortable with a particular aspect of Linux -- ranging from Ubuntu's new button position to (in this case) advanced security procedures -- should just use another OS. My response:

"This reminds me quite a bit of a discussion that was going on a long time ago when I first tried Linux… Users that weren’t comfortable handling dependencies or compiling were often being told to use another OS — that is, until package managers were designed, refined, and integrated as a core aspect of how the system handled installation.

I think that a parallel approach would be the smartest one now… Find ways to integrate solutions into the system where reasonable, once the primary problems are identified. For the remaining issues, create a “security manager” that makes the fixes a normal non-threatening aspect of using Linux — just like package managers are today.

Taking that approach would also make life a bit easier for users at all levels of expertise… More importantly, non-technical users often have connections or talents that our community visibly needs more of. If they’re busy doing & learning admin tasks, it means they’re *not* using their abilities to improve Linux; if they’re treated as second-class users or made to feel unwanted, they’re less likely to offer their skills or explore projects that might need them."
Now, I really need to get to bed... Or rather, I have to go wash-out my cecostomy for an hour (ah well, at least it's decent reading/writing time), give a couple of cats their fluid treatments, take my meds, and then I can go to bed. Well, assuming nothing happens between now and then, I can.

Ink, ink, ink

I just found a useful little BlogThis bookmarklet, so hopefully I'll be kicking my butt into gear about actually posting things... Scary thought.

Anyway, today I drove down to Target (which, despite being in Marin County, is closer than the one in my county) and while wandering around, came very close to buying a printer for myself. Since my laptop refuses to acknowledge its own screen, the large volume of writing and editing I do away from my desk requires paper -- just like the old days, which is roughly the last time I was this heavily into creative writing.

The problem with that, of course, is that even working in draft mode, it eventually requires a heck of a lot of ink. I can't help wondering whether I'll save more over time if I stick with my current printer at $35 for a large black cartridge -- or if I'll get better mileage by dumping my HP in favor of a $65 Canon or Epson. It doesn't help that I need to replace my old scanner and have noticed that the only affordable ones are printer-scanner combos. Darn.

In any event, while I try to find out enough to make a decision, I've run across an interesting little experiment somebody did. Using ballpoint pens, they hand-drew large copies of several popular fonts at the same size in order to get a good comparison on how much ink each used up. Here it is: Save pens. Use Garamond