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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Welcome to another episode of GeekBack, where I gather up all the bits and pieces of news that interests me.

Item one: Science has confirmed something I have suspected for decades: my '70s-era exposure to smog while growing up has stunted the growth of my lungs.

The result of this, according to a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a whole laundry list of potential problems in the future. Great. The children in the study were followed from 1993 to 2003, after a lot of improvements in cars and diesel engines had also improved our air and reduced the number of first-stage or higher smog alerts. In the '70s, first-stage smog alerts were almost everyday occurances, and we got second-stage alerts every so often. If children exposed to the better air of '90s LA showed effects, what kind of horror awaits my generation?

Item two: my email inbox is under siege. I am not sure whether I've been Joe Jobbed or whether this is the result of an acquaintance with an unpatched Windows computer that's been owned by a spambot worm. All I know is that I'm getting tons of "bounce" messages, and the return mail address is a random grouping of alphanumeric characters

However, it all seems to have evaporated now. Maybe the dumbass with their "Typhoid Mary" computer took it down and patched it, or maybe Spam Assassin has gone into action against the spurious messages. Keeping fingers crossed that this is over, finally.

Item three: the W/National Guard story is yet another one that refuses to go away. And it shouldn't. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. If W was able to get into the National Guard and evade active service in Vietnam because of his privileged background, if W was able to get away with ducking out of his commitments to the Guard because he was a Fortunate Son, and then he turns around and sends over 1,000 brave men and women to their doom, damn right we should be talking about it.

The evidence is clear. George Walker Bush, the current President of the United States of America and Commander in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, weaseled out of service in Vietnam. John Kerry, on the other hand, volunteered for combat duty and served in a gallant and distinguished manner. It is for that reason that in the early 1970s, when he turned around and testified to the horror of the Vietnam experience, that he had the moral authority to do so. Kerry represented hundreds of his comrades who came home from the war racked with guilt over things they had done and needed to unburden themselves. The message he gave to Congress was one Vietnam revisionists would like to forget.

It is one of the ironies of history that Kerry, if elected President, will have to go to these families who have lost children in Iraq and try to console the survivors of those who, to use his youthful turn of phrase, "died for a mistake." I do not envy him his hard task.