Progressing through my reading list

After finishing that book on the history of the Reformation, the next book on my reading list was War Hospital. This book came into my possession after I used it as padding for a BookCloseouts ordering, so that I was able to apply a $5 off coupon. Hence, it cost me nothing, or even less than nothing to add to my order.

The book is nonfiction, covering the activities of a number of doctors during conflicts in the Balkans. It starts off with a little of the history of the conflict a few details of the founding of Médecins Sans Frontières (the English branch of the organization is Doctors Without Borders). From there it proceeds to cover the course of conflict in 1992 - 1995, primarily focused on a place called Srebrenica, and the "ethnic cleansing" that took place in the area.

I found the book to be fairly engaging, but at the same time you could tell that the author was a doctor rather than a professional writer. There were a few muddled sentences, and the curious mechanism of using the present tense for a portion of the book, but all in all I found it to be quite readable and had some difficulty putting the book down.

The issues that the book attempts to raise are those of medical ethics and the efficacy of a peacekeeping agenda. Many times the actions of the UN and NATO are shown to be ineffective, and perhaps also contributory to the problem.

As an interesting sidenote, based on some discussion in the book of the difficulty of getting into med school, I decided to do a little digging and see how it compared to the Computing Science graduate program. I grabbed some statistics from the UBC Faculty of Medicine, and compared it with figures received in an SFU grad school information session earlier this year. Turns out that in spite of med school's reputation as being difficulty to get into, the acceptance rates (percentages of applicants) were about 3 times as high as those for the SFU CS graduate program.

Psi gets decapitated

Well, my brother "stole" the monitor and desk that Psi was using, so I'm currently debating what to do with the machine. It's served quite well as a local file server / remote access terminal, so it would be nice to continue that. I suspect that I'll probably move it to the crawlspace now, and perhaps also give it a direct internet connection (as Shaw includes two IPs in its package).

Any reccomendations as to what to do with it? I've been debating setting it up to handle internal DNS and DHCP - which the little router box is presently handling. It's a little annoying not having proper DNS and reverse DNS operating if trying to set up network stuff.

For a while, I had an internal website running, but that didn't seem to be seeing too much use. Basically it was running in Wiki form, mainly providing links to commonly used websites - sort of a global bookmarks / messaging board.

Somehow I suspect that I won't be able to attract much in the way of donations to my hard drive & TV tuner with hardware MPEG encoding card fund, otherwise that would be a cool extra service to offer.

Some movies from the railfanning excursion...

Now that my sister is back from Missouri (her luggage is due by courier at any moment now), I was able to borrow the digital camera she had in her carry-on bag. Using it, I downloaded the contents of the memory card in the other digital camera. Somehow the cable necessary to connect the other digital camera has disappeared, and a little searching hasn't been enough to bring it back.

For the moment you'll have to content yourself with two movie clips, as I haven't yet gotten around to uploading the remaining photos to my photo gallery. The first movie was one I actually had the time to set up on the tripod. Unfortunately, though, the digital camera is not capable of recording sound and also limits video clips to 30 seconds. The second movie is the one that I had originally planned to shoot. With the other train going by at the same time as this second movie was shot, I was forced to shoot this one handheld, and missed out on the shot that I had originally been planning to take.

It would be nice to come back to do something like this again, although I'd like to then have a MiniDV (or higher grade) camera for significantly higher quality, sound, and longer shooting time. What would be nice to add to the kit would be one of these battery-powered hard drives kits I've seen that you can hookup to these and dump the data straight to the drive instead of to tape. Those hard-drive kits are quite pricey though (around $1000 if I recall correctly).

I suspect that I'll only be keeping the movies online a little while as they are significantly bigger than the photos that I normally post.


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