EU – No to X-Ray Scanners

For those who don’t know, the European Union has much stronger safety and privacy laws than the US. The EU just announced their new official policy for the deployment of airport scanners. Two key quotes:

It is still for each Member State or airport to decide whether or not to deploy security scanners, but these new rules ensure that where this new technology is used it will be covered by EU wide standards on detection capability as well as strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights.

In order not to risk jeopardising citizens’ health and safety, only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are added to the list of authorised methods for passenger screening at EU airports.

If only TSA would accept that dosing people with X-rays and taking nude pictures of them isn’t actually necessary for security! Hopefully the new EU regulations will spur Congress to pass similar laws that protect the health and privacy of Americans. As Scientific American reports, the TSA is planning on deploying over 1800 scanners in airports across the country. Write your Representative and Senators now to encourage them to follow the EU’s lead in protecting citizens!

The Madness of Crowds

So in the latest attempt to demonstrate that democracy can be hijacked, a group in Mississippi is attempting to pass a law defining “personhood” as starting at the “moment when sperm and egg meet“. While this is clearly aimed at preventing abortions, if it passes, it would criminalize hormonal birth control methods, which are used by roughly a third of the population. Quite frankly, I think we have bigger things to worry about right now than what people are doing with their own bodies…

Anti-Vaccine? Cool, Let’s Get Infected!

I’ve written before about the sometimes outrageous actions of folks opposed to vaccines. And now from Tennessee comes another story of anti-vaccine craziness. A few folks there have gotten the bright idea that instead of exposing their children to a weakened-virus chicken pox vaccine, it would be more natural to expose their kids to pox-laden spit from other kids they find on the Internet.

I hate to rain on their parade, but this is completely insane! If I came up to some parent and asked them “Hey, would you willingly let your kids put a biological fluid into their mouth if you saw someone offering to ship it to you on Craigslist?” I have to imagine they would say “NO!” (and probably call the cops on me). But as soon as you frame it as “do anything for the children!”, people’s brains turn off and crazy shit starts happening.

“Even in the best circumstances, exposing your children to a potentially serious or even fatal disease which is virtually, completely preventable by a really safe vaccine is inexcusable. Not even talking about the other accidental risks from shipping, other infections,” said the Tennessee Health Department’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Tim Jones.

Yeah, that’s a good point, Doctor. Not to mention the fact that shipping biological contaminants across state lines is kinda against federal law. Remember how popular the anthrax mailer was? Guess what Pox-Mom, you’re doing the same thing — I know, I know, it’s for the children. But you’re still breaking the law.

I hope it doesn’t happen in this case, but people can die of chicken pox (certainly not common, thank goodness). I would feel like a real ass if I mailed some parent a lolli-pox and then their kid (or their kid’s classmate) died of it. So good luck out there folks – maybe take some time out this holiday season to remember that just because something is “organic” and “natural” doesn’t mean it’s “safer” and “better”…

Insurance, the New Frontier

So with my upcoming wedding next year, I’ve been spending more time than normal thinking about “responsible” things like insurance and financial planning. *Ugh* I generally enjoy these types of things, but I have to admit that I’d willfully blocked the complexities of the insurance industry out of my memory. When you’re a traditional employee, insurance is generally a pretty easy thing to deal with – you sign the line and get what your employer has setup for you.

But one of the great joys and simultaneously great sorrows of being self-employed is that I get to handle my own insurance. I generally think this is a good thing as it allows me to make decisions that are best for ME and not for some company executive or shareholder. But it also means that I have to wade in and learn enough about things to make good decisions.

With most things, it’s easy to use a iterative try-it-and-then-fix-it approach. Having a few advisors handy (CPA, laywer, etc.) also helps a lot. But the key with any advisor is understanding enough to validate that the advice you receive is good advice. So while I’m not an expert at taxes or business law, I understand enough of the basics to have a framework. Then when my advisors tell me something new, I fit it into the framework and see how it works. If it doesn’t seem to fit right, I ask questions and read up on it until everything makes sense.

The fundamental issue then, in the insurance world, is that I just don’t know enough about the options to have a framework. So I guess the next few months will be filled with reading background material (Wikipedia, here I come) and talking to my insurance agent. Anyone else out there deal with insurance on your own? Got any advice?

Living in the future ain’t so bad…

Today, I…

  • woke up in one city and ate lunch in another city 500 miles away – without breaking a sweat
  • activated a new ATM card, opened a new bank account and transferred money – after business hours and without talking to anyone
  • can type random thoughts into my lap – and anyone in the world can read them moments later

Yeah, we may have problems, but living in the future ain’t all bad!