July 2002

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Slate‘s Eric Klinenberg writes about the worst U.S. natural disaster of the 1990’s, at least in terms of the loss of life. It wasn’t the Northridge quake or Hurricane Andrew. It was the heatwave that hit Chicago in July of 1995, killing 739 people.

If this doesn’t ring a bell, welcome to flyover country. Klinenberg’s article discusses other reasons for the general lack of attention paid to heatwave deaths.

The heatwave’s death toll wasn’t immediately obvious. Heat death is slow, and its victims usually live alone, because otherwise someone would have saved them. When the Medical Examiner’s office announced the disaster, City Hall politicians tried to play it down, claiming that Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Edmund R. Donaghue was mistaken or trying to get publicity. A more thorough investigation showed that the doctors were right. In fact, the ME‘s estimate had been conservative.

The politicians should have known better: Many years earlier, Dr. Donaghue’s office had been the first to detect the Tylenol poisonings.

Yet more proof that the feds are wasting time instead of fighting terrorism: Our U.S. postal service (the people whose response to Anthrax contamination of their facilities was to immediately send a piece of mail to everyone) is now wasting time prosecuting a South Carolina college student for allegedly selling used underwear on a web site. (via Reason)

This federal crime could earn her five years in prison or a quarter million dollar fine. On the other hand, if she had sold actual sex instead of panties, she would probably spend only a few days in lockup.

Welcome to my blog. I’m a software developer living in Chicago. I’ll be talking about government, guns, software, news, economics, warfare, driving, and whatever else suits my fancy.

I would like my postings to have the intelligence of Virginia Postrel, the wit of UThant, and the posting frequency of Instapundit. Instead, I’ll probably get the intelligence of Homer Simpson, the wit of software documentation, and the posting frequency of Virginia Postrel.

The world awaits.