September 9th, 2005

krazy koati

I ain't got a fever

I got the first ``May I turn my homework in late?'' e-mail, coinciding with ... well, the due date for the first assignment. Usually it takes a couple weeks before somebody tremulously asks whether she or he might perhaps have a tiny bit more time even if it costs a grade level or more; but that's one of the hazards of teaching upper-level classes. The freshmen are much more intimidated by the very concept of a university instructor; seniors are too used to us not to dare asking for leniency early on. I'm an easy touch, but apparently don't have a reputation as such, based on the apologetic e-mail I got. The student had -- if his e-mail's to be believed -- wrenched his foot and had trouble moving, much less making it to class. I'll be interested if he turns in an unsolicited medical certificate; women in my classes have been rather more likely to turn doctor's notes in.

Coincidentally there's a medical crisis raging on the island, as cases of dengue fever rose from 414 to 493 to 546 over the past few weeks, and are projected to hit 600 this week. That roughly fills one hospital's worth of beds just on dengue. Hospitals have begun postponing non-urgent operations, the first time that's been needed since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome crisis. They're helped by the traditionally low number of elective surgeries during the ghost month, but that convenience will fade in a few weeks.

Since dengue's spread by mosquitos there's not likely to be a repeat of the SARS approach to precautions, which involved individuals' actions -- temperature checks, signing in and out to visit the hospital even if you just wanted to go to the 7-Eleven or the bank branch there (a time-consuming procedure which so cut down on visitors to my bank branch that they closed the branch altogether, making bank trips a regular minor nuisance), wearing of face masks by food preparers (which, while objectively correct, does wonders to undermine confidence in how hygienically food is prepared; the only thing more disheartening was when they banned, for a couple weeks, real plates and silverware and all the hawker centers went to disposable plates). Instead it'll probably focus more on government-employed contractors spraying horrible chemicals everywhere they can reach.

Oh, and happy 27th anniversary to the Legion of Doom.

Trivia: The original Green Lantern ring was powered by a meteorite from ancient China. Source: Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones.

Currently Reading: Moonstar Odyssey, David Gerrold. A coming-of-age tale for a child in a terraformed human colony world where children are born asexual and Choose which, if any, gender and set of genitals to have as grownups. It's from shortly after science fiction writers discovered the naughty bits of characters could do interesting things (though for my money, Sola, who was never able to Choose, is the most interesting character). Like all Gerrold stories from the 70s except Star Trek: The Galactic Whirlpool it features a stirring defense of the ability of two males to love one another, and even marry, which is used for emotional moments ineffective on me since I grew up agreeing with the points. There's some really 1978 stuff about the way of the ``Tau'' in the society's philosophy, though I never got the feeling the planet was as high-tech as the background needs it to be. In a point I noticed about 110 pages before Gerrold wanted (the book is 150 pages) `she' is used as third person singular pronoun for all characters.