Category Archives: Health

Applying for a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth

When my Hawaiian grandmother and her sister were born, in the last years of the Hawaiian kingdom, they did not receive birth certificates. At that time, there were many births at home, or at the homes of family friends serving as midwives, where the formalities such as birth certificates were not part of the process.

So some 60 years later, in mid-1948, the two women each submitted an application for a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth. This involved providing testimony about their parents and siblings, with supporting testimony by family friends who could verify they had been born in Hawaii.

My grandmother, Heleualani Eva Cathcart Yonge, was the older sister. Helen Mary Kahooilimoku Cathcart McPherson was two years younger. Their father, Robert William Cathcart, was Irish. Their mother, Kina, was Hawaiian.

The records show their applications were supported by Jennie Wilson, who was married to then-Honolulu mayor and one of the founders of Hawaii’s Democratic Party, John H. Wilson.

Wilson testified she was a “schoolmate” of the girls’ mother, Kina.

Further support also came from Harriett Baker, who I know little about. Baker testified that Helen was born at her family home, near the corner of Punchbowl and Vineyard, with her mother assisting in the birth.

In any case, I found portions of their applications, with some of the supporting testimony, in my sister’s papers. These were duplicated from copies made in 1979 and filed in the Mormon’s genealogical library.

–> View portions of the Applications for Certificate of Hawaiian Birth filed by my grandmother and her sister in 1948.

Fraudulent link between vaccines and autism continues to damage public health

There was a good article in the Washington Post today looking at the continuing public debate over use of vaccines to combat childhood diseases (“Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas“).

The Post is no longer holding back in its news reporting on such issues.

For example:

President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.

Later in the article, the Post states directly: “The modern anti-vaccine movement is based on a fraud.” A study published almost 20 years ago purported to show a link between childhood vaccines and autism. The data was later found to be falsified, and the study was retracted.”

And there’s an important link to a report in thebjm discussing how the research that originally claimed a link between childhood vaccines and autism was rigged when the researchers were paid to come up with data to support a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. It was later shown the data were manipulated and rigged in order to show a relationship that didn’t actually exist.

See also:

“British Doctor Faked Data Linking Vaccines to Autism, and Aimed to Profit From It”, Popular Science, January 2011.

The research linking autism to vaccines is even more bogus than you think,” Vox.com, January 2017

Threats and fines don’t matter when you’ve got to go

An Associated Press story about Rep. Gene Ward’s proposal to create “urine free zones” that would attach a fines up to $2,000 to the act of relieving one’s bladder without benefit of toilet was picked across the country this week.

What madness. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. At that point it’s pee in your clothes or in the bushes. Threats and fines don’t help.

When I was on the staff of the Star-Bulletin and often had multiple things to do downtown, I recall my mental map of accessible places to pee. It was in self-defense, as more and more places started locking up their restrooms. It worked pretty well, although on one or two occasions I found myself looking around for potential locations “just in case” I wasn’t able to reach a safe zone in time.

I wrote about the issue back in a 2008 column. I think it was the same year that a bill or two pushed the need for public restrooms, and had mainstream support from Catholic Charities, as I recall.

I’m reprinting that column below. Nothing seems to have changed in the interim.

When you’ve got to go
by Ian Lind
Honolulu Weekly, March 20, 2008

It’s one of those messages that you don’t want to see at a moment of crisis: “Sorry, no public restrooms.”

Although the discomfort of finding yourself in urgent need of a toilet is often fodder for comedians, getting caught in that situation is no laughing matter. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, but the number of publicly accessible toilets in Honolulu has been rapidly dwindling as businesses have restricted previously available facilities, citing the high costs of maintenance, and neither state nor county governments have stepped up to address the resulting problems.

Legislators haven’t responded either, perhaps because of the stigma associated with public discussion of toilets. This year, a bill has passed the State House and is awaiting action in the Senate extending a 2004 law making it illegal to urinate or defecate in public anywhere in the downtown business district despite the fact that publicly accessible toilets are hard to find, while another bill that would have required businesses to open existing toilets to the public died without a hearing.

Honolulu’s bus system doesn’t provide public toilets even at major transfer points, despite its reliance on several long-haul routes, and transit planners have pointedly stated that they have no intention of building restrooms into stations along the proposed new rail line.

So with businesses locking their toilets, a dearth of public facilities, and laws against emergency stops in public, this can be a very serious issue. My wife points out that even planning a simple shopping trip requires taking into consideration available rest stops, and the challenges are more serious for those with special needs, including families with small children, pregnant women, those with medical conditions, the elderly and disabled. For them, as well as many of the rest of us, a long commute, a shopping trip, or any other excursion away from home can lead to embarrassing and uncomfortable incidents.

The American Restroom Association, a Washington-based education and advocacy group, views the lack of publicly available toilets as a serious personal and public health issue in the U.S.

Association president Robert Brubaker, in a November 2007 interview, called for Americans “to start talking about restrooms and speak up for them just as they do for streetlights and sidewalks.”

Brubaker attributed the lack of publicly accessible facilities both to Americans reticence to openly discuss toilet use, and to a policy gap in laws at the federal, state, and local levels.

Federal labor regulations protects the health of workers by requiring employers to provide a minimum number of bathrooms depending on the type of business and the number of employees, but there’s no requirement that they serve the public. The federal Department of Health and Human Services, which should be serving up laws and rules to provide sanitation facilities for the general public, has failed to act on proposals for public restroom standards. For the most part, restroom access has been governed by state and local regulations.

Most local governments, including here in Hawaii, have adopted provisions of the Uniform Plumbing Code, which sets out standards for the required number of toilets in most buildings. The UPC also requires that those toilets be accessible to all “occupants”, meaning that if a building or business allows the public to enter as customers, they must also be provided access to the building’s restrooms.

Those restrooms available only to employees aren’t counted by the UPC when determining whether a building complies with the requirement.

But a funny thing happened here in the islands. Although the City and County of Honolulu adopted most of the Uniform Plumbing Code, the sections dealing with toilet facilities were deleted and do not apply, or “may be used as a guide only.”

Similarly, the State Department of Health has adopted provisions for “sanitary facilities” in auditoriums, churches, theaters, “amusement places”, and “buildings of public assembly”, along with schools, dormitories, and bars. But DOH regulations covering restaurants, markets, and other businesses “do not include the
provision for public use,” again failing to serve the broader public interest, and those applying to office buildings and other retail businesses are absent.

What can be done? In Portland, Oregon, a community advocacy group calling itself PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human) has pushed the city to explore options for meeting the need for public toilets. In one report, PHLUSH reviewed a number of urban options, including automated restrooms that clean themselves after each use, portable toilets, freestanding restrooms supported by advertising, and even storefront rest stops that combine toilet facilities with community services, perhaps offering free space to social service agencies in exchange for managing the public toilets.

Working with students and professors from a local university, PHLUSH initiated a study of existing facilities and needs, and has worked with city officials to find innovative solutions to what is really a basic need. Similar cooperative efforts to address this public health issue here at home are long overdue.

A news story hits home…

If you’re at all techie, and maybe even if you’re not, you may have seen news reports of a young couple in Berkeley, California, found dead in their duplex apartment. Also found dead were their two cats.

Initially a local story, the mystery deaths soon made national and international news.

And by Friday, published reports (citing unnamed sources) said the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning from a 3D printer in their apartment.

A terribly painful story, for sure.

But for us, it was even more painful because it was personal. The dead woman was the daughter of a good friend and colleague of Meda’s who teaches at Michigan State University. She and Meda have collaborated on many publications and research projects, and stay in close touch.

It didn’t take long for the shocking news to spread through the national network of feminist criminologists.

I thought to myself…this just isn’t the kind of thing that happens to people you know. And when it does, it necessarily threatens your own sense of personal safety and security.

We had visited the couple and their cats while in Berkeley for a conference in 2013. We had dinner at their apartment, and of course spent time with their two unusual big-eyed cats, which also turned out to be very smart and would perform tricks in exchange for freeze-dried treats.

Roger, a computer game designer, had been developing his own approach to design of nonviolent games that did not rely on the militarized scenarios of mainstream games. She was a post-doctoral researcher. Two successful careers were well underway.

What can you say? Hug your loved ones. Be glad that you woke up this morning.

And maybe take that 3D printer off your shopping list.