Where am I, Wednesday?

Hey kids, it's been a few weeks, but welcome to Where Am I, Wednesday?

Do you know where I took this picture in the HoCo? (hocoblogs@@@)

Leave your guess in the comments below!


That's what SHE said...

Chris Wallace of Fox News Network has gotten attention for asking Michele Bachmann the type of hardball, cutting-edge question that defines good journalism.

"Are you a flake?" he asked.

Shocker --> he's gotten some criticism for posing this question to the Queen of the Tea Party.

I actually don't watch Wallace (or Fox), although I did catch his sparring with Jon Stewart a little more than a week ago. Wallace apologized via vidblog the next day, but it seems his apology was not accepted (or acknowledged?). Snap

Can we say "exploitation of circumstances for free publicity?" All together now.

So why do I mention the flap? Well, I'm not a Bachmann fan myself (for many reasons, but this post is not about that), and the "Tea Party" movement in general makes me want to punch kittens. (I know. Sorry.) 

Still, as I heard the quotes from the interview - particularly in the absence of context for WHY he might ask such a question - I wondered two things:

1) how likely it was for another (male) candidate to get the same question

and - a question I've seen asked less frequently than the first - 

2) Is the fact that Bachmann is female (and thus a possible victim of a sexist slight) a distraction from asking if there is legitimate basis for Wallace's question - ie, is she a flake

And then I thought about the way our perceptions color our behavior - as voters, as commentators, as journalists, and as consumers of news and politics and economics. 

The truth is, one can get angry about Wallace's question, or about the way women have slogged through political races in a way that is not required of their male counterparts (thanks to Sarah Says for that book recommendation). Or one can get angry about how racial commentary often colored aspects of the 2008 presidential race (and continues to do so in Obama's presidency - but that's another post). 

This cuts both ways. I can even get angry - although the more accurate term is flabbergasted - at a Myrtle Beach Tea Party co-founder's endorsement of Bachmann.

Gerri McDaniel, one of the founders of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party group, said she has heard people are coming from all over the Pee Dee region, not just from Myrtle Beach.
Bachmann, she said, is someone you "just have to meet. She's got what I like to call the 'fire in the belly' for the people.

"She's not the ordinary female," McDaniel said. "She's very intelligent. She's an attorney - a tax attorney." 

Read more: http://www.thesunnews.com/2011/06/27/2244452/bachmann-venue-changes.html#ixzz1QVpemBex
[Emphasis mine]

Come on, people.

It's idealism to hope that one day sexism and racism will disappear. I'm not sure that will ever entirely be the case. We categorize things (and people). It seems to be how we work, with some wiggle room - I found the PsychToday article pretty interesting in that regard. 

More realistically, the trick might be increasing awareness of that tendency, and asking how that categorization influences our behavior before we act. 

Or at least, not letting it creep into the way we define, challenge, or praise our presidential candidates.

National HIV Testing Day

Today is National HIV Testing Day. There are numerous places that are offering the test for Human Immunodeficiency Virus - which usually involve a blood draw, but can be done on saliva or urine - in Baltimore. The Howard County Health Department also offers times for free and anonymous HIV/AIDS screening, as well as other STDs. (hocoblogs@@@)

Chalk Drawing for STD Awareness Month at UMB in April, 2011.

Howard County Health Department has two locations:

7180 Columbia Gateway Dr
Columbia, Maryland 21044


9525 Durness Ln
Laurel, Maryland 20723

Testing is critical for someone to know his or her status, particularly as many STDs can be contracted and spread even in the absence of symptoms, and even when barrier protection is used. Moreover, some STDs can take several months to show up as positive tests, so repeat testing may be necessary. 

There's no sense in pretending that there isn't stigma associated with STDs - to the point that it can discourage people from regular testing and care. 

Think about it next time you're in a conversation and someone throws in a reference to herpes (caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 or 2) as a sign of promiscuity. The CDC estimates that as many as 1 in 6 Americans has HSV-2, the form of virus most often associated with genital herpes. In contrast, the oral form of herpes (typically HSV-1), is estimated to be carried by more than 50% of the population. Oral HSV can be transmitted simply by sharing a glass with someone actively shedding the virus.*

Look again at those numbers. 1 in 6 people. 50%. It doesn't take a genius to realize that unless one is in a 100% monogamous relationship with someone who knows their STD status, it's very possible to contract an STD without "sleeping around." Yet that's often the assumption when people talk about sexually transmitted infections.

Knowing status is critical in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, not just those that can be resolved with treatment. When partners are aware of each other's status, they can take measures to prevent transmission if one partner is affected. HSV can be managed with antiviral medication, while early intervention can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV

Below are some pictures I took back in April - which, incidentally, is STD awareness month - of chalk drawings done on the UMB campus to raise awareness for the need for STD testing. Hopefully things like this will help encourage people to get tested regularly as part of their health routine, or at least help further the conversation.

* Edit: HSV1 and HSV2 can cause either oral or genital herpes, depending on exposure.


Targeted advertising...

From time to time I notice how targeted advertising on different sites - like facebook, or Google - changes. Sometimes it's entertaining. Sometimes, I think that they must be employing psychics.

How do they KNOW?!?!? ;)

...and it totally works, I caught myself looking for this label at the store the other day. Well done, Facebook, well done.