Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Viajar es sufrir

I'm sitting on the floor in the Banamex Center -- Mexico City's conference center -- because it's the only place to sit. There are one quadrillion people at this conference and the place was only designed for 500 trillion. The official language of the conference is English, but you hear every language extant and some that are extinct. Before I get to the conference however. . .

I was waiting to change planes in Dallas when I noticed that my return flight was booked for September 8, not August 8. American Airlines said they couldn't do anything about it, because of the conference, they got nuthin' on that date, actually less than nothing. (There were 19 standbys trying to get on my flight here, BTW.) I envisioned spending a pleasant month in La Ciudad de Mexico but I really can't afford a hotel room for that long.

When I got to Benito Juarez Airport, it turns out the airline had lost my poster. Of course I had to wait in line for 45 minutes to talk to them about it because of all the people with lost luggage ahead of me. They couldn't find it. When I got to the hotel, it turns out my computer was jodido in some way and I couldn't get Internet access. Windows knew it was connected, but the browser wouldn't recognize that fact. So no way to get to Expedia, no way to get to the file with my poster so I could have it reprinted here (it's on my e-mail server) and no way to contact my colleagues. Nobody at the hotel or the Banamex Center could help me with the Internet problem or anything else.

Finally, for no apparent reason, the computer started working, Delta had a flight that day, and if I don't have the poster, what will be will be.

Now, as for the conference, indeed it is about politics more than science. Not that there's anything wrong with that. HIV is as much a political problem as a scientific problem, obviously. And that's politics very broadly defined -- how do we do sex ed, what is the status of women, is homosexuality a sin, should we respond to addiction with harm reduction -- social and moral issues like that, not just how we allocate resources and who has money and who doesn't.

On the downside, even the science gets politicized, vaccine research being a current example. More on that anon. For now, I just need to recover from a stressful 18 hours.

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