I have only 9 working days left before I retire. This is an extremely strange space to be in, with frequent recurrences of the thought, "Why do I care about this?" A firmly rooted Protestant work ethic, however, keeps me focused on the last clean-up tasks.
The Oakland City Council can be pretty odd, and pretty annoying, but at least we haven't elected anyone equivalent to San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew. The whole incident is giving me second thoughts about instant runoff elections, since it's pretty clear that he would never have been elected in a first-past-the-post contest.
As dangerous as XDR-TB is (that's extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, in case you were in a cave last week), I think we're over-reacting to it as a society. The case of Andrew Speaker disturbs me deeply, particularly since the head of the CDC is now saying that "we need to have confidence we can take action absent documentation of intent to cause harm" (quoted in the Detroit Free Press). Presumably she means forced quarantine, as they have now imposed on Speaker; or as in the case of Robert Daniels, who is being held in solitary confinement in Arizona because his XDR-TB (which is in the process of killing him, by the way) makes him "a public menace." He was ordered to wear a mask in public, because he is infectious; he didn't do so; and the court locked him up. He is in a medical isolation unit in a jail. He hasn't been outside in 10 months. He hasn't seen a human except his medical attendants. The windows on his solitary cell are frosted; the lights are always on. Interviewers have to talk to him through the door. His wife and son are in Moscow; he may never see them again.
Neither of these men has committed a crime. As far as I know, it's not criminal to go out in public without a surgical mask, even if you do have XDR-TB. It's not criminal to fail to follow your prescribed medical regimen. It's true that to fail to do so causes drug resistant diseases; but then you die of the disease, which could actually be considered enough punishment. The ACLU is suing on Mr. Daniels' behalf, and more power to their elbow; as this man goes, so could we all go.
I don't take tuberculosis lightly. In 1929 my Aunt Margery, whom I know only by repute, died of it; my Uncle John's entire life from the age of 3 was made miserable by it (he got it from his sister, in his hip joint); my mother grew up in a household with two incurable invalids, and she herself had it and recovered, but she always registered positive on the skin test. It is inhumane - it is inhuman - to lock people away like criminals merely because we can't cure their contagious disease. Nobody locked my Aunt Margery away, and her disease was contagious and incurable. Yes, people can die from XDR-TB that they might catch from these patients - but they are all going to die anyway. Can't we show these people some compassion, instead of allowing our fear of catching their disease to turn us all into Nurse Ratched? Whatever happened to, "There but for the grace of God go I"??
Our increasing tendency to criminalize anything we don't agree with or can't control is a very disturbing and dangerous trend; we must stop this.