Thursday, November 10, 2011

News Update: The majority of Mississippi voters disapprove of setting this precendent

I don't think I'm an Anglophile, but I do definitely prefer (if I need to make a choice) reading the BBC's coverage of American Politics than the Washington Post's or The New York Times'. I think there's less goose stepping around the issue when it's an international news source.

Here's a short and sweet update about the Mississippi "personhood"/life begins at conception amendement being defeated by voters in the November 8th election (Yay!). 

Captain America wants you to think twice about suicide

If we're talking Public Health (and happily we are), I generally think of your standard public service announcements (PSAs) as nourishing detritus. For a good part of the 20th century, PSAs dominated small and large health campaigns - through radio, television, and billboard - as a main approach for health communication with the public. In this case, "main approach" should also read as "a method so wildly overused that negative connotations have been rubber cemented to the term and its acronym." Maybe not for all time, but it's quite an industrial adhesive.

ANYHOW, that said, I posit that PSAs have been and are useful; they've provided flotsam and motivation for current social marketing practices, they can be directed towards a specific audience more easily than some other methods of health promotion, and, perhaps more importantly, they've lent a basic design to a whole melting pot of creativity.

Nick Dragotta and Tim Ursiny's "Captain America: A Little Help" is a PSA. Sure, it's internet-based and it features a superhero fighting a robot, but it is trying to highlight a specific health concern: suicide. (Side note: I feel that saying "health issue," "health concern," or anything similar sounds a bit glib if I talk about suicide. Is that just me?) Specifically, the digital issue is trying to "combat" (press release's wording) suicide by presenting 12 pages in the life of a young man, Zack McKenzie, who perceives his life to be at a pressure-cooked end point. He walks up to the roof, closes his eyes, and is stepping off of the building... only to be distracted by Captain America fighting a bunch of underlings on the roof next door. Do we expect Zack to feel differently and gain a different perspective on his life after this encounter with a guy in a red,white, and blue-plastered cat suit? Um... maybe? Definitely yes?

The upsides? First, it's an interesting read for someone who is both a health communications nerd and a comic book enthusiast. It showcases an actual suicide hotline and is free. The dark negative spaces that Dragotta (as penciller) gives are interesting to the eyes.

On the other hand, the concept is, to me, the best thing about the issue. I hope that the PSA and superhero blend will become a trend and, as an accepted design, evolve as any idea should. I wish I liked this attempt better than I do, but"A Little Help" falls into several of comic book clichés that, in such a short issue, distract the viewer away from its overall good intentions.

Zack is a) not white and b) living in a ghetto. Okay, I'll bite or, rather, I'll continue to read despite the fact that I'm a bit tired of African-American characters in superhero stories seeming to only have one option for an origin story.

But then I'm stuck again, and this time it's on a technical point. I press the arrow that, I think, means "next page," but instead the comic viewer screams back up the page I just finished reading. In fact, the Adobe Flash Player feature of this comic means that pressing the comic to go "forward" means that it zooms around art so that you are sure to read every panel. That's a bit annoying to me. I don't really want to release my control on noticing what I want to notice in the comic and, with satisfaction, turning the page.

Lastly, Zack's story is obstructed by the cover art (picture at the beginning of this post). A petty slug, I know, but the cover has nothing to do with Zack... or with suicide... or any mention of depression... or with anything other than Captain America and the flag of the United States of America. The cover is completely disconnected from the rest of the comic in mood, art, and its outward intention of what is to follow.

Now I feel like I've downed this comic enough. As I said before, I think it is interesting. I hope it becomes nourishing detritus for other PSAs.

Also, even though I think it could be done better, this probably will connect with someone in a really good way. I think it has too much potential not to.

The link is here if you're so inclined.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Still posting videos from Chile



Moving Right Along...

Announcing changes to this blog! But first...

Mitchell and I have been doing a lot of that "spending time together" thing recently. We also got married just over two weeks ago. I suppose the two things are related?

Anyway, during the times when we are at home at the same time (which are wonderfully awesome times even if I'm unemployed, he's underemployed, and we both spend too much time stressing out about things we have no control over), we tend to talk. Right now, we're talking about individual endeavors that we'd like to accomplish by the end of the year. We both love fall; we both feel motivated to take on a small part of our perceived world. We both have this want (probably would phrase it more like "need") to write.

So the other day we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: I'd like to specify my blog a bit more. I've hardly written on it.

Mitchell: Yeah. I've hardly written on mine either. Y'know... from reading authors write about writing and from reading my dad's blog, I've realized what... well, what we both should do. *pointed look* Write. Every. Day. It doesn't matter how long it is. It doesn't matter if it's crap. And yes, I realize it's funny to have me saying this. [Mitchell is, perhaps, more of a perfectionist writer than I am].

Me: No. I think that's great. I would like to write everyday. I've just... I've lost what I'm writing about. I haven't written almost at all since I got back from Chile (I hardly wrote while I was there). My blog title is too general. "Urban Health" and "Pop Culture"? That's too broad; I could write about anything with that subject line, and I keep feeling like I've got to be more complete.

Mitchell: Yeah, you.

A couple of days pass. Then today (over a baked turkey and pesto sandwich):

Me: I want to start writing. Seriously, what should my blog be about? What do you think?
Mitchell paused, thought, laughed, almost choked on his food, and then said,

You could make it about Linda Holmes' worst nightmare... talk about "The Ghost Map" and disease, go see "Contagion", talk about disease in movies and books...

My guy knows what I like. He knows this so well that he started describing something that my knee-jerk reaction was to go find and bookmark/list right away, and then I realized that it didn't exist yet. I needed to start writing it as soon as possible.

Yes, I've been bit by the epidemiology bug. I've also been bit by the film geek bug and the book worm bug. I'm not easily grossed out, but I am easily amazed and inquisitive.

So, my plan is this:

  • I'll use this space to write about reading books of the Science Writing genre (writing about science performed, usually, by journalists rather than scientists).
  • I'll use this space to talk about diseases (infectious and chronic) according to the movies.
  • I'll use this space to discuss recent mainstream articles on epidemiological research, and how research sometimes doesn't translate all that well into a journalistic lexicon.
  • I'll use this space to diverge a bit, sometimes, into epidemiological theory, content, and practice outside of the page or screen.
  • I'll learn more about all of these things as I go.
Let's see what happens.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Because I haven't posted recently...

I am home.

I miss Chile, but I am happy to be home. It is a dichotomy that I can live with.