Friday, September 28, 2007

Is Socialized Medicine Without Morals?

The economic and political pitfalls of socialized medicine have been examined at great length for decades. But what about the moral implications? In an increasingly secular country, will government-run healthcare erode accepted moral standards in the medical community? That appears to be the case.

In Great Britain, for instance, the General Medical Council has adopted new guidelines that forbid doctors from telling the parents of minors as young as 13 about their sexual activity, birth control and even impending abortions.

This goes far beyond the issue of children's rights to make their own decisions. It amounts to state-sponsored dispatching of families' right to adopt moral and ethical standards according to their own beliefs.

Conclusion: Socialized medicine is another contributor to the disintegration of the nuclear family--the building block of civilization.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Heroes Review

So all summer I've been excited about the season premiere of Heroes. After watching it last night, now I'm only mildly enthused. Let's divide the episode into the Yeah!, Stupid, and Meh.


Okay, there ARE some very cool parts about the upcoming season, based on what we saw last night. It looks like the key villain is going to be very cool, which is a relief. The little girl Molly sees--and is seen by--this monster in her dreams, who is apparently much worse than last season's psychotic Sylar. It will be neat to watch as they unveil just how horrendous this villain will be.

The other very cool part is the mysterious plan to eliminate the original founders of the "company." Who's behind it? And why now? Is it because they failed in their mission to blow up New York? It looks like Hiro's father Kaito is dead, having been pushed off a building. Which begs the question, what was his power, anyway? And Angela Petrelli's?


Last season, Hiro was cool. His antics and naivete made him an enjoyable diversion from the heavy themes that abounded, and his search for mastery of his own powers was an excellent sub-plot.

This season, Hiro becomes a caricature of himself. Having just escaped death at the hands of Sylar, and having seen the horrific consequences of messing with events in the timeline, what's the first thing he does? Saves some dude's life in an historic battle in 17th century Japan, thereby altering the achievements of his personal ancient hero, Takezo Kensai. Obviously his new mission is to help Kensai get back on course and achieve the historical and cultural status that Hiro has ruined. This is a storyline that has been beaten to death. I hope they don't dwell on it too much.

More stupidity comes from the Claire Bennet front. Again, we've seen this played out before. She has a new life in California, and keeping her true identity a secret from the Company is of utmost importance. But she can't stand denying who she is, or what she can do. And she has a new boy who will undoubtedly learn her secret, and somehow her identity will be revealed to the Company. Boring.


Parkman finally gets his badge. Yay. The guy can read other people's minds, and it took him this long. He's definitely one of the more annoying characters, and it seems the only way they could make him relevant was to make him Molly's guardian.

Nathan Petrelli has had a change of heart, and has blown off his political career. And grown a beard. Whoopee.

Mr. Bennet hates his job at the copy shop. Super duper.

Nathan Petrelli is alive. Big surprise there. Has amnesia--it was bound to happen. Gotta have the most powerful character lose something, otherwise everyone else would be pretty much moot. Peter could just take care of everything. This storyline does have potential, though. Like it would be really cool if he was captured and re-oriented as an evil dude.

Mohinder Suresh is a ridiculed academic. Nothing new there. And he's recruited to work for the company--by Ned Ryerson (Groundhog Day), no less! No biggie, he's worked with them before. Oh, but he's actually on a SECRET OPERATION to bring down the company. I'm glad they blew that secret in the first episode of the season. No reason to bring any more intrigue to that fascinating storyline. Maybe he'll at least get a chance to snatch up some cheap life insurance.

Overall, I give this episode a 6.5, maybe 7.0. That's a far cry from the 8.5 or 9.0 I would normally award the series. I still have hopes that Heroes will redeem itself, but at this rate it looks like it's already past its prime.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mormon Prophet Honored; Distinguished Author/Historian Pays Tribute

This item is newsworthy not just for the bestowal of the Municipal Citizen of the Century upon Gordon B. Hinkley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also for words of wisdom from noted historian and author David McCullough. From the article:

Delivering the luncheon's keynote address, McCullough fretted that more and more Americans are historically illiterate and no longer write, or can think, the way John Adams and Abigail Adams did.

"To write well is to think clearly. To write very well is to think very clearly," McCullough said. "And we don't do much thinking on paper any more."

McCullough urged increased emphasis on history, wherein he said lie lessons of humanity. "History is about consequences, the consequences of actions. It's about faith, about human nature."

He added, "We are up against a force today that believes in enforced ignorance. We do not."

"How often today," McCullough said, "do we hear people say, 'Now, are you comfortable with that?' She is saying exactly the opposite of that. 'Comfort, schmomfort.' 'Great necessities call out great virtues.' If you want words of inspiration to print on a banner that would explain how it could be that we could have achieved what we did in that founding time against such odds, there it is, 'Great necessities call out great virtues.'"

It's a short, inspiring read. So hop to it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Romney Spot

Romney Wisdom

Has anyone more succinctly summarized the issue of outsourcing jobs to foreign competitors?
"I'm not happy exporting jobs but we must move ahead in technology and patents. I don't like losing any jobs but we'll see new opportunities created selling products there. We'll have a net net increase in economic activity, just as we did with free trade," Romney said. "It's tempting to want to protect our markets and stay closed. But at some point it all comes crashing down and you're hopelessly left behind. Then you are Russia."

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Rise of the Gibble-Fists!

Finally there's scientific evidence suggesting that left-handers are rebounding from the brink of extinction. 100 years ago, thanks to over-hunting and destruction of habitat, lefties numbered only 3% of the population. Today, that number has rebounded to a healthy 11%, due in large part to extensive federal protections as well as global warming.

What's more important is that I learned that I can call my self a gibble-fist. Isn't that cool?

A couple other lefty facts from the article:
"Left-handedness is partly hereditary and it had been thought that left-handers were more likely to die before reproducing."

"Swedish researchers found that if a pregnant woman had an ultrasound scan, her chances of giving birth to a left-handed child were raised by 30%."

"While some researchers have linked left-handedness to talents such as creativity with art and languages, others have suggested its effects may be less benign. Recent Dutch research indicated that left-handed women may be twice as likely to die from breast cancer."
With additional federal funding and legislation to level the playing field in a society that inherently favors the right-handed, we lefties can eventually achieve socioeconomic parity with our lesser, but more bountiful, brethren.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Want To Grow Up? All You Need is Sex

That's the message we're hearing from the intellectuals and experts these days, as evidenced by this Reuters story about the relaxation of social standards as it relates to nudity.
"I do think that general attitudes about nudity are becoming more relaxed, but these changes take time, which is why there's still mixed responses," said Paul Levinson, communication and media professor at Fordham University.

"We as a society are finally growing up and it's a healthy thing," he said.

Oh, thank you, Professor Levinson! What a relief to know that I'm expressing my maturity by clicking on pictures of nude celebrities! And it's such a good thing when porn stars are regularly dignified as true entertainment professionals on nearly every talk show and reality show. It shows how there's still hope for our generation. If we can just continue to lower our standards over time, there's no limit to how healthy we can be.

I actually agree with Levinson on one point, though:
"There's no doubt about it. The Web for the last 10 years, has made more nudity available," Levinson said. "I predict in the next few years, the FCC will be put in its proper place and nudity will be the norm," he said.
Nudity will be the norm. And families wishing to avoid the filth will have to actively opt out of it. Isn't technology great? Hmm, maybe the Amish have a point.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is It Any Wonder Detroit is a Mess?

In Michigan, every night the evening news gives you a good dose of the repeated hijinks, bunglings and corruptions of Detroit city officials. Why are these people voted into office? The latest sideshow involves Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick utilizing city resources to facilitate late-night liaisons and extra-marital macking.

Apparently, the Mayor used his security guards/police escort to take him to meet his lady a-la-carte, and then stand watch. When two of those individuals raised an issue about misappropriation of city resources, they got demoted or fired. Yesterday a jury awarded them almost $7 million, to be paid by the city. As if the city isn't already financially strapped. Way to go, Mayor.

Also significant is the mayor's reaction to the verdict:
"I think my reputation rests with the city of Detroit," Kilpatrick said. "Being that there was only one (juror from Detroit), I guess I will have to talk to her. But everybody else needs to understand, this city understands who I am. They understand why I ran. They understand what I'm doing.

"But it's impossible if you can't get a trial where people look at the facts, the significant facts in this case, and render a decision."
Here's Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson's take on that:
OK, so he didn't come right out and say "Whitey stuck it to me." But public figures around here rarely talk like that; it's almost always subtle, and understood. But the implication's clear, and for Kilpatrick in this case, it's just counterproductive."
The sad thing is that this type of news is par for the course in these parts. Whether it's the Detroit teacher's union going on strike every other year in spite of bloated benefits and a rapidly declining student population, or an "education activist" pelting school board members with grapes, the nightly news reads like a David E. Kelley dramedy. Sprinkle that with frequent and senseless Detroit violence, and it ends up more like a Tarantino flick.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Here's To Inescapeably Annoying Music

I have a coworker who sits in an office behind my cube. I don't know if he thinks his music is so awesome that everyone wants to hear it, or if he assumes he can just play it loudly because he has the right by virtue of sitting in an office with a door (which he never closes). Either way, I think I've heard maybe one song of his in the past week that didn't grate on my nerves.

I could walk over and ask him to turn it down. But then that wouldn't be cool, would it?

Thank goodness for my silicone-enhanced Bose Triport™ earbuds.

Can Your Printer Do 100,000 DPI?

Apparently they've figured it out at IBM.

Researchers there have demonstrated a new technique for printing on a nanoscale. According to the press release,
“This method opens up new ways to precisely and efficiently position various kinds of nanoparticles on different surfaces, a prerequisite for exploiting the unique properties of such nanoparticles and for making their use economically feasible,” explains Heiko Wolf, researcher in nanopatterning at IBM’s Zurich Research lab.
The process involved arranging gold particles, each measuring only 60 nanometers across. That's "roughly 100 times smaller than a human red blood cell." This achieves a resolution of 100,000 dpi, whereas your printer probably doesn't do much better than 300.

Pretty neat--especially if you're into super-mega-ultra hi-def.

Via The Raw Feed.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Honeybee Update - Virus Could Be The Cause

Scientists may have isolated a factor that causes Colony Collapse Disorder, which is causing huge numbers of honeybees to simply vanish. It's a virus, called Israeli acute paralysis virus. From the article,
Researchers performed a sophisticated genetic comparison of healthy and diseased U.S. colonies that revealed the presence of Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), an obscure but lethal bee bug, in almost all beekeeping operations affected by "colony collapse disorder" (CCD), but in only a single healthy one they examined.
This is good news, if true. Now we can breed bees resistant to the virus, which means our crops will still get pollinated and we won't starve.

Here's to the scientists who quietly solve real problems in the background while buffoons parade around droning on about global warming.

Stream of Conciousness - A Long Post for the Sake of Long

This is an experiment. Seeing as I have a few minutes to kill between meetings, I thought I'd post something that has no relevance to any reader out there (not that there are any at all). Basically I'm going to type until my meeting. Whatever spews forth from my fingers. Isn't that great. It should end up being the longest post I've written so far. But with far less thought.

It isn't very often that one's fingers have an opportunity to spew. Literally, I mean. I suppose if you hit a finger very hard with a sledgehammer, it could spew blood. I can't think of much else that a finger can spew. Figuratively, my fingers spew all day. Writing headlines, taglines, witty phrases and long-winded rationales for whatever copy I've come up with for a recent project.

Come to think of it, I think my fingers spew much more each day than my mouth does. Figuratively, I mean. Now a mouth is much more capable of physically spewing than any of the 20 digits. But then we get into the realm of bodily fluids, etc., which means it's time to change topic.

I've been moved to a new office location, which has increased my commute from about 40 minutes to about 60. Or even more during rush hour. My remedy? Get to work at 7am. That's right. This morning I left the house at 6:15am, and got to work roughly 45 minutes later. I figure I can use that extra 40-plus at home with the family, rather than moving along at 2 miles per hour during rush hour. Good for me!

So the Republican debates in New Hampshire were the most watched so far--squarely surpassing Bill Clinton on Larry King, who had roughly have as many viewers. I didn't watch either. Instead I finished up a freelance project and played a little Civilization 3. Who needs to watch the debates when you can see the highlights on the Internet the next day.

Unfortunately, it seems the media consensus was that Mitt Romney didn't have his best night. Not that he floundered or gaffed, but that he didn't really stand out from the crowd. Which is important in such a crowded field. I'm not worried about it, though. Romney's polling has been consistently on the rise for the past few months--and as you know, slow and steady wins the race.

Fred Thompson? I think he'll be more of a flash in the pan in this race. Historically, former senators very rarely win presidencies, and former governors do so quite frequently. As for former mayors, that's anyone's guess. I think that by Super Tuesday (or is it Super Duper Tuesday now?) it will be basically be between Giuliani and Romney.

Should I add images to this post? That might be interesting--and I've just decided that I will. I've been looking for an excuse to find and post a picture of a bloody finger, and now I have the perfect opportunity.

What should I have for lunch today? I'm quite hungry. For breakfast I had my TV dinner of turkey, dressing and potatoes. Nothing beats that for breakfast, except maybe cold pizza. Or waffles. I could eat waffles for every meal. I miss being able to zip home and make waffles for lunch. Now the entire endeavor would take over two hours. Not that I ever did make waffles for lunch before. It was usually spaghetti or something.

My new office has no stash of silverware. I've had to eat my lunches a couple times without using utensils. I'm glad nobody popped in on me while I was slurping up chicken and rice.

So my coworker got himself an iPhone the day after they came down in price. Hey, if he's willing to shell out for something that makes him happy, more power to him. I couldn't justify buying it, if only because its trendiness is off-putting. Besides, the only functions I would really use I already have with my basic cellphone. Thanks, but no thanks, Apple.

Okay, I'm getting too hungry to continue typing. It's so hard to spew on an empty stomach. And that is the truth on so many levels.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Romney Surges in Michigan

Interesting news from the Detroit Free Press. Mitt Romney is far and away the Republican frontrunner in my current state of residence, Michigan. He's polling at a whopping 39%, compared to Rudy Giuliani's 13%.

As a Michigan native, Romney has a home court advantage here. But is that enough to explain his huge lead? Perhaps there's something in his platform that resonates with people here. He's still not number one nationally, but
Romney's move in the polls show a campaign that "has come the farthest in the shortest amount of time."
He's also raised the most cash. If trends continue, we'll be looking at Romney on the ballot in November 2008.

Coincidentally, Michigan is one of those states trying to move up its primaries to January. This would be great for Romney, who could use the early momentum from a solid performance in one of the bellwether states leading up to the nomination.