Hurricane Isaac

Florida’s gonna be in for a blow. Bad timing for the Republicans, and just bad all around for the people who live there. Here in the Philippines, we’ve had more tropical storms and hurricanes than you can shake a weather vane at, so trust me when I say, I know how you folks must feel over there.

Yeah, we get it bad.

But over the course of several years, civic minded folks here have taken to using Twitter both to organize rescues and what-not, AND to promote disaster preparedness. In that same vein, I thought some of these reminders might be of some use to you folks.

  • An average person needs about a gallon of drinking water per day.That’s about 3.5 liters. While waiting for Isaac to come, store away as much water as you can in gallon jugs or containers. If you think flooding might be a problem for your neighborhood, it’d be smart to lash the handles together, just so that they don’t get swept away. Also, empty gallon containers can be used as flotation devices in a pinch.
  • Again, if you think flooding will be a problem, you might as well keep some DIY water filter components handy. Empty soda liter bottles, box cutters, and cheesecloth are just some of the things you can set aside now in case you need them later. Great instructions for DIY water filters are available here and here.
  • Assemble a disaster kit. It should have a whistle, a flashlight with spare batteries, and a first-aid kit that should have a pair of scissors and some bandages. You never know when you’ll need to do some field dressings.
  • Food is absolutely essential, of course. Instant ramen would be great if you had access to cooking facilities. In the event of flooding, however, that might be a long shot. So, stock up on crackers and cookies stored in zip-loc bags.
  • A portable radio that runs on batteries is indispensable.
  • Charge all your electronics – especially your mobile phones.
  • Cash, identification documents – like passports, medical records, and such – clothes. Think of it as packing for a long trip to somewhere, except that instead of packing all of your stuff in suitcases, you might want to keep them in plastic garbage bags. Double bagging will help keep them dry. For cash and documents, a zip-loc bag would be the best solution.

That’s all I have, and I wish I could share more.

Good luck! And stay safe.

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Legitimate Rape

Asked whether a woman could legally get an abortion in case she got pregnant from a rape, Republican Todd Akin – a Senatorial candidate for Missouri – gave this humdinger of an answer:

From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.

The stupidity is mind-boggling. Let’s break that down.

First of all, pregnancy from rape is no rarer than pregnancy from any other kind of unprotected sex, vanilla or the Christian Grey variety. Atkin goes on to explain why it would be rare.

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

I have no idea where this bizarre notion comes from, although I would not necessarily discount fringe religious beliefs as a possible source. As far as I know – and I believe I’m standing on pretty solid ground here – the body has no means of knowing whether it was raped, much less have the ability to refuse to get pregnant if it determines that it was raped. That whole concept sounds more like a mutant superpower to me, than actual medical science.

But Akin’s logic – while resoundingly moronic – is also quite predictable, given his Conservative leaning. Ultimately, he is saying that the preservation of a human life – the baby’s – is more important than the psychological and physical well-being of the victim.

Sad to say, this is essentially the same position adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. In this predominantly Catholic country, where even the erroneous belief that abortion is supported by a bill can lead to that bill being stonewalled for close to two decades, any proposed policy or law that seeks to give a woman a choice to terminate a pregnancy arising from rape would be killed within days and its proponents, tarred and feathered. Of course, this doesn’t mean that abortion doesn’t exist in the country. It does, and it probably kills as many desperate mothers as it does fetuses.

This fact alone – that unregulated abortions are fatally carried out despite its illegality – should make the issue of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy resulting from a rape serious enough to warrant mature discussion and consideration. Political realities however, will ensure that no such discussions will ever take place. Is it any wonder then, that the Reproductive Health Bill is taking forever to pass? The citizens of Missouri are fortunate that Akin opened his mouth and spouted that drivel. At least now, he’s being pressured to quit the race.

Here, at home, we’re not quite so fortunate. We may not have Todd Akin, but we certainly have more than enough of his ideological twins standing in the way of better healthcare for women.