20 May 2015

world wide wednesdays :: the itty bitty nation committee

lesser known richard scarry
some of you may have heard some news from north sudan this week. not the northern part of the country of sudan [although maybe you heard news from there too, it's certainly possible]; i mean north sudan. if you don't know about that nation, you might be seeing its story on the big screen, courtesy of disney. it had people excited at first, until they followed links to the project and discovered that disney's first african princess is going to be a white girl from virginia.

huh?

you see, the kingdom of north sudan is a micronation. that word isn't accepted by spell-check, which is fitting, since micronations aren't accepted by larger, established nations either. but that doesn't stop people from founding them, in the same way it won't stop me from using the word micronations to talk about this peculiar and fascinating movement.

to continue with the brief history of north sudan, it is a kingdom founded by a farmer from virginia and it is indeed located along the border between sudan and egypt. you see, there's a parcel of land 800 square miles that neither country wants. it's been officially terra nullius [fancy talk for literal no man's land] since 1902, which technically means that it's up for grabs. so jeremiah heaton has started the process of grabbing it. thus far, north sudan meets two of the conditions laid down in international law for statehood: they have defined their territory [including planting a flag on that territory] and established a government, in this case a monarchy. they do not yet have the capacity to enter into relations with other states, nor do they have a permanent population, which are the other two criteria. yes, that's right. not only does no one claim this land, but there isn't even anyone living there.

the mainstream media "both sides" challenge

so, yesterday, i posted this article on facebook and i threw down the following challenge:


Ok, I don't know why, but I just hit my BS limit.
Listening to the mainstream media, all I hear is how politics in the U.S. has become extreme on both left and right, but I cannot find any examples of left wing politicians who inhabit these sorts of fringes. So I'm issuing A CHALLENGE: Find the left wing crazies.
The rules:
  • Must be a Democrat
  • Must be an elected official or have stood for election (let's say in the last 15 years)
  • Statements must be verifiable, preferably with embedded audio or video.
Go forth. Find the Democratic crazies and bring them to me, so that we might compare them to their GOP colleagues.

yes, it's true, i write normally, with capitals and everything when i'm not here. 

as of this morning, while i've received a handful of witty responses, no one has been able to find me a suitable democrat. 

since it's clearly impossible that the mainstream media is wrong, i'm astonished that it's taking so long for people to prove that they're every bit as extreme as republicans. so i'm challenging readers of the blog as well. the media says that things are equal. bring me the equivalents.  

[world wide wednesdays is coming up a little later. it's kind of a fun one, if i do say so myself.]

 


19 May 2015

you asked, i answered... man candy and weirdness

time for a continuing series wherein i look at how many of you folks end up in these parts. welcome to my domain, by the way. i hope [in most cases] you find what you're looking for. please feel free to peruse the content here at your leisure, or whatever parts of it strike your fancy. it never ceases to thrill me when i see how many people and from how many places visit these parts. i'd love to visit every single one of you if it were financially feasible and not completely creepy.

i try to respond to all comments left here, as well as to any that pop up on facebook or through other social media. but once in a blue moon, i also rummage through the list of things that people are searching for when they wash up on these shores and, in case they ever wash back, point them to what they want [which google usually hasn't]. also, i like to frighten myself a little, because it encourages me to stay in the house and write more.

searches in the last little while have fallen into three main categories: searches for makeup swatches and comparisons, which i think work pretty well in terms of linking you to your end goal [please feel free to contact me if there's ever a specific comparison you want to see. if i can do it, i will]; searches related to soccer hotness and man candy; and things i can't, and often don't want to, explain.

first off, we address the issue of body parts. specifically, we address the issue of soccer players and their body parts, because i get a lot of searches for those here. most recently, it's involved requests for hair.

WELL COME ON THEN, LET'S DO THIS THING...

18 May 2015

mental health mondays :: the place to be?

at the beginning of the year, i wrote a post about global mental health statistics. it was a little pastiche of data pr0n, but all that i could really establish after putting all my statistical ducks in a row was that global mental health was probably even more complicated than you would think and that mental health was a huge problem almost everywhere. although i touched on issues of access to resources among the stats, i didn't focus on where treatments were the best and worst. but this week, i came across the results of a study released late last year that dealt with just that, albeit in one area only.

this study, conducted by the economist intelligence unit [an information branch of the group that's probably best known for publishing the economist magazine] and sponsored by a branch of janssen pharmaceutica, is quite a detailed look at europe, including all 28 e.c. members plus norway and switzerland. the methodology of the study is given on the page linked above, but the basic points of evaluation are the environment, access, opportunities [work being done towards the future] and governance. [you can download a very detailed version of the report in ms excel, with all the data arranged into convenient drill-down form, however you have to register with the site. i'll leave that decision to you, your computer and your internet connection.]

so what does europe have to tell us?

first of all let us congratulate the winner of the "best place to be crazy" sweepstakes

germany :: tops in soccer and psychiatry

but more generally...

wealth matters

there's no getting around it. the nations with the best outreach, the best access, the most support and the greatest chance for people with mental disorders to live happy, healthy lives reads a lot like a list of europe's largest economies, from top to bottom. germany, with the largest gdp in europe, ranks #1. bulgaria, with one of the smallest gdps in europe, comes dead last on the list, and a fairly distant last at that.

but it's not the only thing that matters

if only there were a word to describe switzerland's policies
estonia and slovenia, who rank just behind bulgaria in terms of gdp, punch wwwwaaaaaayyyyy above their weight when it comes to the quality of mental health care offered, finishing at 8th and 9th on the list overall. as you might expect, neither fares terribly well on indicators where financial investment is paramount [numbers of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, number of facilities and beds], but both have found ways to make their systems work in spite of this. estonia does extremely well in helping the mentally ill find stable employment and better than almost anyone in terms of the structure being laid down for the future. slovenia has a system that's built on accessibility, outpatient care and patient advocacy.

nor is money a guarantee of a better system. switzerland, one of the wealthiest countries in europe, fares terribly, coming an embarrassing 24th out of the 30 countries surveyed. switzerland finishes in the top ten in all the financial measurements and has the highest number of psychiatrists of any european country, but fails on every other front- faring particularly poorly in the areas that allow patients to live independently [areas where slovenia does particularly well].

in other words, the easiest way to maximize investment is to look at what can be done outside hospitals, by keeping patients at home and offering support rather than institutional care.

the best are aiming to stay the best

if you look at the list of who scores highest on the "opportunities" scale, it's more or less just a scrambled version of the existing top ten, with france more or less swapping places with the united kingdom. one would expect that those systems that are already the best would be the ones that had the least need of improvement, which does seem to be the case, but all of the countries that do well now seem to recognize that the work continues. that's an exceptionally important thing for other governments to note when developing their own policies.


rules are important

the countries that have the most legal protections in place- and the united kingdom far outpaces
all of these children are insane: who's going to recover?
everyone else in this regard- are the ones that score the best overall. while it's true that successive governments can overturn laws, such decisions tend to draw a lot of attention and, often, public outcry. giving the mentally ill the protection of the law basically forces governments to make plans that take those laws into consideration.

we need more information

one of the points addressed on the study's web site is that there is what they term a "data chasm". as much data as they've compiled, there are areas that are woefully lacking. in particular, there is a need to get patient feedback and to build that feedback into mental health care systems as a whole. only eight countries of the thirty have even indicated plans to do this [including patient empowerment superheroes slovenia] and none have made it mandatory.

i sincerely hope that this sort of research is expanded to look at other areas of the world, but i have a feeling that the results might be a little frightening. after all, social welfare programs are deeply entrenched in much of europe [even in areas where its adoption has been relatively recent, public healthcare is a priority for most governments]. that means that europe is likely better off than almost anywhere else in the world. the rest of us are just trying to catch up. 

17 May 2015

making faces :: get some colour up in here

this week montreal went from buds to leaves in rapid succession as warm weather descended on us with the force of a thousand suns. [ok, not literally, but it has gone from about 12 celsius to 24 celsius in short order. also, i've suddenly been beset with every sort of allergy, which just blows.]

as much as i might embrace my fallback "kate face" [neutral eye, flushed cheek, berry lip] on a regular basis, having more sunlight does tempt me to incorporate a larger palette, something that reflects the burst of colour that accompanies spring. there are blossoms everywhere, great swathes of that golden spring green, clear azure skies... why am i telling you this? you've seen spring before.

although there are still some gloomy, rainy days [actually, most of this week], the presence of more light in general means that it's easier to get away with bigger and brighter statements on your face. unless you're a very skilled makeup artist [i'm not], bold colours in winter tend to look heavy and aging. with more light around, though, they morph into playful and engaging.

some will tell you that, over a certain age [usually around thirty], you should just cede the use of bold colour and let yourself fade into neutral wonderland. i will tell you that those people deserve to be drop-kicked off a wharf over freezing cold waters. yes, i adore subtle neutrals and they'll always make up the bulk of my eye shadow collection at least. but no woman should ever feel like she can't go out in turquoise eye shadow just because someone decided a hundred years ago that it wasn't appropriate. [they didn't have turquoise eye shadow a hundred years ago -ed.] [shut up, editor -kate]

so here are some colourful looks i've worn lately to give you some inspiration, to give you an idea of what they might look like on you [if we have similar colouring], or to serve as a warning if colours are not your thing.

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