USAToday: ‘Embryonic Stem Cells Used On Patient For First Time’

 

USAToday.com:

 

For the first time, surgeons have injected a spinal cord injury patient with human embryonic stem cells in a federally approved experiment, a biomedical firm said Monday.

Food and Drug Administration officials approved the start of the privately funded safety trial in July, allowing a long-awaited test of the cells, which were grown from a single embryo to resemble forerunners to spinal cells.

The unnamed patient received the cells at the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta hospital specializing in brain, spine and related ailments.

 

Despite religious objection of some the benefits of embryonic stem cells are already being applied to better the lives of others. I see this as a victory over religious insanity and unthinking, arcane dogmas that serve no purpose in the modern world.

Paul Krugman: Health Care Now (+ Analysis)

This is the article and accompanying essay that drove me to talk about student peer review editing in a previous post.

Dr. Krugman explains his case on NYTimes.com:

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

And then there is this college essay of mine:


Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, wrote an opinion piece appearing in The New York Times where he argues strongly for social reform of health care access and ensuring affordable premiums for all Americans. The central thesis of this paper being that Krugman effectively conveys a sense of urgency in the health care social reform agenda by using a combination of rhetoric, “considering counter-examples” and a series of rational arguments that are all valid in nature. Written at a time when the Obama White House had yet to reveal its presidential proposal on health care reform, Krugman uses the economic forecasting of both his own make and that of the Obama administration to predict of likely “prolonged unemployment,” and warns of a “looming health care disaster” upon the horizon. Krugman believes the U.S. alone will share in this fate of a “health care catastrophe” in which basic medical care will not be available to millions as unemployment persists and the recession continues forward.

Krugman argues the banks and lenders were essentially sick and the government gave them medicine in the form of financial assistance, what kind of medicine and how much he sets aside by stating “I have problems with the specifics,” which was the right thing to do and now the American people are sick or in danger of becoming extremely ill so the government must provide medicine in equal fashion to all and not only the wealthy few. Krugman feels a measure of fair treatment must be shown clearly to Americans who have not benefited from government bailouts or other recovery measures taken by the government.

Working on the assumption that some members of “Mr. Obama’s circle” are advising to place health care on a low priority policy agenda Krugman considers a series counterarguments that would be likely proposed from that perspective. Considering the perspective that crisis and turmoil are not the time for committing to social reform is one of three examples of “considering alternative examples” on behalf of Krugman. He argues that times of turmoil are in fact the best time to engage in social reform by citing the actions of F.D.R. in the Great Depression and also by “seeking informed sources” in quoting White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to assess the current mood in the White House of placing health care in a top priority who is quoted as saying, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” One could argue against Krugman’s position by saying that the national economy is unstable at this time and that any budgetary measures not solely centered on spending cuts should be resisted until marked economic stability can be seen. Krugman assumes that the issue of cost to be one of the possible arguments against health care priority in the Obama White House.

Instead of arguing the point that universal health care will save us money in the long term despite initial costs, instead the case is made that universal health care is costly indeed but compares that expense to other government expenditures in contrast against a prediction of the Commonwealth Fund of the cost of Obama’s campaign health care promises totaling $140 billion in federal spending. Krugman refers to $140 billion as “not a small sum,” but then compares this against the Bush-Obama recovery spending and cites this Commonwealth figure directly against that of the Obama stimulus small business tax cuts. I believe Krugman could have shown a contrasting numerical figure against the Commonwealth figure to enhance our ability to properly consider the “background rates” of the Obama stimulus tax cuts and the Bush recovery efforts in terms of the number of billions of federal dollars spent.

The third counterargument, and the one that Krugman suspects to be “the real reason” behind the then stalled health care agenda, is one of a political point of view that the people of America are focused on “the economic crisis” and it “is a bad time to pushing fundamental health care reform.” Citing the history of both the failure of Bill Clinton to complete reform and the success F.D.R. he calls this argument “precisely wrong.” He succeeded in strengthening his case by using “more than one example” of how a economic recession or depression is in fact the best time to do social reforms. This use of a fact based argument with multiple examples is a very sound and logical way to present his counterargument and effectively defeats this notion. In his saying “it’s possible that those of us who care deeply are reading too much into the administration’s silence,” there is a recognition of his strong personal investment in the matter thereby confronting the issue of personal bias possibly effecting the objectivity of the argument presented. This confronts the matter of “considering objections” and “making fundamental changes in advance” which is pivotal to weight of his argument as a whole.

By confronting the matter of objectivity outright and presenting this in his argument he clearly recognizes that “the truth as one sees it can still be biased.” Drawing upon a series of analogies between 1929 and 2009 which vary from extremely relevant to somewhat “relevantly similar examples.” First, he compares Social Security to the health care reform which is a strong analogy in that both are important life planning matters but not readily apparent in their importance such as basic needs like shelter or clothing. Second, he compares the current recession to the Great Depression which is a fair analogy to make for the two events in size and scope may differ greatly but the underlying global effects remain the same. Third, he compares financial bailouts and health care access which is relevant but less than concrete as the bailouts were a reactionary government measure while the “health care catastrophe” is yet to occur therefore the analogy is sound but lacks a concrete correlation between financial bailouts and working-middle class social safety nets in an absolute sense.

In conclusion, the argument for the priority of health care reform and the conveyance of a sense of urgency surrounding that agenda are presented in a logical and focused manner by Krugman. The credentials of the source of this argument combined with the use of historical arguments give a high level of validity to the position that Krugman is supporting. In a both tactile and ominous manner this case for reform resounds strongly with the reader for it is not a case of pure rhetoric, but rather a case of rhetoric backed by valid arguments and intelligent dissection of all plausible counterarguments to his thesis. Krugman’s diagnosis of the situation may be dire but the disturbing nature of the news does not make it any less important to listen to the doctor.

—————————————————————————-

Citation:

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009. Print.

HuffPo: Texas Textbook Massacre

This recent development has me extremely enraged, in a time when I can afford no more of that emotion without bursting at the seams.

From the Huffington Post:

AUSTIN, Texas – A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

Swiss-Cheese Morality

The concept of “Swiss-cheese morality” is coined by Dr. John Van Epp in his book “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” which he points out could be conversely titled “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerkette” for jerkdom knows no gender.

This matter get’s my goat, in that certain kind of way. Speaking from personal experience.

A person appears normal enough, polite and appealing, but with time you become aware that there are gaps between this person’s very moral fabric.

They might hold certain standards quite ardently but when it comes it other types of standards they simply lack any ability to recognize their callousness and lapse in values, or are in heavy stages of denial about it.

There are little early warning signs: the inability to admit personal faults or misbehavior, hiding friends and past relationships from you, not disclosing important things that you discover later in a less than pleasant manner.

We are looking for phrases like:

Actually, I was kind of less than honest about that. It was actually more like…

I was wrong, that was a stupid move.

I got upset there, I can get a little hot under collar / frazzled sometimes.

It’s not about seeking out people who just roll over and immediately take all the blame unto themselves. It is more about recognizing a person’s willingness or unwillingness to confront the reality of what they are putting out there. The ability to link their actions with consequences, not just sometimes but all of the time.

Anyone can make a mistake, but some people appear to have “Swiss-cheese morality” in terms of recognizing certain kinds of mistakes. It is as if they simply cannot imagine they have poor standards, so they simply declare to themselves that they do not. Therefore, they fail to learn from the mistakes that fall within the holes of their “Swiss-cheese morality.”

Obama is Not Perfect

Obama

Well everyone has to make mistakes, right?

So this is what we got going on that nobody cares enough about you to tell you in the newsmedia:

Obama has dropped the ball on this round of health care reform.

This is not the say he is now failing as president, or anything else the hate-mongers on the rightwing are sure to say.

But this is the first major misstep of The 44th US President.

There are a whole multitude of reasons, most of which very technical and are not coming to mind right now, (and very boring to cover) but as I prefer to ‘cut to the chase’ I’ll just say it like this:

Obama and The Democrats have failed, and failed utterly, to properly sell good health care reform to be proposed in the Congress.

I’m going to give you all a brief lesson in sales … pay attention:

The first thing you do is explain the value. Is this highly valuable or moderately valuable or barely valuable? Are we talking about a gold-plated coffee maker, or a plastic one? Is this car made for the long haul, or just for going to the store and back?

The second thing you do is explain the benefits. Are these the greatest benefits you could possibly have or just fine benefits or perhaps no benefit exists at all? Will you be better off in a few seconds after owning this or will you be better off in two months or will you never be better for owning this?

All the Democrats and President Obama have succeeded in doing at this stage is explaining what this bill won’t do.

Not one of them has succeeded in properly conveying the value and benefit of public health care options, nor have they properly conveyed the value and benefit of saving money in a exasperated system.

Call me vastly arrogant, but I feel they need to put my over-the-top with conviction self on this issue. I am a Progressive Reformist to the bone, and I think perhaps that is exactly what is lacking in the Democratic Party these days.

It seems to me the political will to get this done is floating away from the Democrats now that we are faced with actually doing it. After years of campaigning on health care reform, specifically what we are talking about as to medical insurance reform, these same people seem to lost their thunder as the moment in upon them to roar.

I chalk this up to the nature of people and nature of the real world.

President Obama has done an excellent job in terms of foreign affairs and the national security agenda, but seems to have some trouble working toward this particular domestic policy agenda at this time.

In the end, we the people cannot rely on any one political figure or any one group to get what we need from our government.

The fight goes on, and if they fail to achieve meaningful reform then we will pick up this battle once more in days yet to come.

And perhaps in those days yet to be before us, someone can explain clearly and passionately why we need health care reform in the US.

One can only hope….

The O’Reilly Factor Disgraces The Nation

o_reilly_doing_it_wrong

Lara Ingram just referred to the President of The United States as having a “notoriously anti-life agenda.”

I am sick of these disgraceful and partisan pundits using their platforms to sling arrows and rocks instead of intelligent commentary.

The war-mongering and anti-gay agendas of conservatives aside, this is a perfect example of what equates to simply irresponsible broadcasting on behalf of FOX News.

If this is the standard of debate set upon me I would like to restate myself that The O’Reilly Factor is a format that supports domestic terrorism against US citizens by means of untrue and inflamatory rhetoric designed to specifically urge Americans toward acts of violence against other Americans.

 They are not only Anti-Choice, they are Anti-Freedom.

Let the true patriots stand tall against this dangerous and unintelligent programming.

 Whatever opinion a person holds of President Barack Obama, there is no excuse for this kind of hateful and untrue horse-play. Shame on the network.

Let’s Talk About Gangs

I just broke down the entire gang-structure of our area for my mother after she asked and suddenly realized that I have some amount of knowledge on this. And some small level of understanding of what role I can play in terms of the issue as a whole.

 “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

 These words sum up my personal feelings towards owning weapons. However, the issue is not as simple as my personal reservations.

“Let the fittest survive, and the weak be food for the strong.”

This is not some crazed sentiment bandied about in movies or rap music but rather a fundamental way of thinking. A way of thinking I call being ‘criminal minded‘. This sole element is what I can relate to when speaking within my own experiences.

In a certain mindset people become ‘marks‘ and therefore weak enough to steal from or kill if necessary. 

I understand well what it means to want to take without asking and claim what is ours by right of the fact that you were clever enough to take it.

But it is a cycle of destruction. And nothing more.

While gang ‘culture’ abounds it seems to me that many simply fail to understand how exceedingly complex these issues are.

I simply cannot discuss much of what I know here on this format, but there are things I can do.

Like say that my local police department has failed to properly guard against gang violence. Is the same true for you? Look into it.

In my experiences I have spoken with many former-affiliated individuals and most anything I understand is simply second-hand from them.

The only organization I can freely decry is the Cartel. They have invaded US territory in so many facets for so many years it is almost immeasurable. The phrase: “They are everywhere” applies here. But nonetheless the government takes open and often hostile actions against them. Therefore I know I can attack them by name and I am not alone.

My question is simple: Who will back me if I start denouncing local gangs or individuals? 

I don’t wish to do this but rather am making a point. In the absence of a clear and present resistance to the spreading of gangland violence in my neighborhood I am remiss to start laying the issue out.

I encourage action over discourse in this specific matter, the danger of inaction is too high.