Category Archives: Health

I was wrong about Sen. Al Franken

And I’ll be the first to admit it. I was never fond of his books, his characters on SNL were amusing, but never gratuitously hilarious, and I thought that the same warmed-over smarmy attitude would be ill fit for the Senate, regardless of whether he won the election fairly or not.

Which he didn’t, by the way, if you agree with Bill O’Riley.

But Franken has done a fabulous job winning over, starting with his solid line of questioning with Justice Sonia Sotomayor (though it was a bit cheesy), continuing with his excellent filmed debate with his own constituents regarding health care, in which he only revealed his pretentious liberal side a few times, and then subsequently apologized for it while defending his viewpoint and perhaps swaying a few opponents.

Watch this, it’s pretty enlightening. And no, they’re not an “angry mob” as the video’s title alleges them to be. Sheesh, the left loves its labels.

And just two days ago, Franken proposed Amendment No. 2588, which has the following purpose: “To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.” This is a direct response to the alleged rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, who says that while at a Halliburton/KBR camp in the Green Zone of Baghdad she was raped by several co-workers and placed under guard in a shipping container.

The amendment passed by a vote of 68-30, as it darn well should have, further giving credence to the theory that Franken is a senator who actually has his wits about him, and would like to use his office to actually accomplish something. Also, he made the Republicans look like they’re pro-rape (though 10 Republicans did vote for it). It seems as though Franken really is good enough, smart enough and dog-gone it, I like him.

As for Franken’s speech on the Senate floor…

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Health care? Who cares?

UPDATE: Well isn’t that appropriate? The liveblog didn’t happen, since I was in a meeting for a huge chunk of the speech. Oh boy. There’s competence for ya.

Us. Duh.

Click the link below for the Opinions blog’s live coverage of Obama’s ringing of the bell for round two of this factitious debate! Only here, and only at 8 o’clock.
Obama’s Big ‘ol Speech

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Filed under Culture wars, Government, Health, Morgan, Obama, Uncategorized

F&%k it! We’ll yell at callers live!

Mommy, keep the Glenn Beck away from me…


Hmmm…after listening to this lengthy clip from his radio show, I think I’ve discovered the key to success in this newfangled media landscape. I’m not sure where I personally stand on the whole health care issue, it’s incredibly complex and I’m still trying to weigh both sides, so my reason for posting this clip isn’t to demonize Beck’s argument, which is perfectly valid.

I just think the guy’s a tactless ingrate, but a highly successful one. So perhaps the only real key to success is to just be a jerk and steadily ramp up one’s indignity until you get banned from a country like certain Beck predecessors…(NOTE: Michael Savage was just taken off of the list of folks banned for Britain. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes over there or boycotts them to make a point of the ridiculousness of the whole situation.)

Can you believe I used to listen to this guys show when I was a kid? Sheesh.

Can you believe I used to listen to this guy's show when I was a kid? Sheesh.

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Jackson’s Farewell

The death of a celebrity is always a tough time. It brings people out in full force, ready to offer condolences to each other and show support for the family, or whoever’s left. It brings people together, as they gather on the street outside the hospital, or at that person’s Hollywood star.

I would like to start by saying that Michael Jackson’s death is a tragedy. Every death is.

But Farrah Fawcett also died yesterday. And according to the AV Club website, the guitarist and lead singer of the Seeds died. The US Census Bureau reports that 1.8 people die every second. 155,131 every day.

What strikes me is any news website today will be dominated by the death of Michael Jackson. For good reason, surely, but there is a degree when it becomes too much. The New York Times has suspended it’s other headlines for a Michael Jackson tribute page right up front. It’s the same with every major news website–CNN, Washington Post, LA Times, even foreign newspapers. (In a bold move, too, the Times of India’s headline reads “Michael Jackson lived like king, died in debt”).

So, when it all comes down to it, is there a difference in the media between an entertainer and people who have done really important, world-changing things? The kind of coverage Jane Goodall’s death will get, or Stephen Hawking’s, or Nelson Mandela’s could only hope to be as much as Jackson’s.

It’s a question of values. To run the article with many supplements and slideshows and videos, putting aside perhaps more important stories, seems like too much.

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Filed under Business, Health, Hollywood, Jack Dodson, Media, Music

We promise, this time, that your kids are actually in danger

Thanks for the image New York Times...

Thanks for the image, New York Times...

Look at this girl. She seems perfectly happy and content, what with her working phone, face free of terribly unsightly pores and braces, and if the New York Times’ caption is to be believed, she’s an honors student as well. Who would have thought that her life is in grave and gruesome danger from a double-sided blade of debauchery?

When I was in school, teachers were worried about alcohol and marijuana. Before that, it was gangs and radicalization, and before that it was spitballs or whatever Eddie got the Beaver to do that week. Now, our youth are faced with menaces that would send even the most hardened of deviants reeling back in shock.

Hugs and texts.

While that sinks in, let me thank the New York Times for the sort of reporting that our nation needs, the sort of careful exaggeration of youthful trends and a keen eye for trying to create interest-boosting controversy. Do people hug more often? Sure, they definitely do. But it’s this new hugging, this wanton, newfangled way of greeting that’s probably to blame for all of that music downloading and sex stuff.

“It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.”

These are the words of Noreen Hajinlian, a principal of a junior high school in New Jersey who had the foresight to ban hugs two years ago. Now, I know the article in the Times goes on to quote some folks as to why this hugging phenomenon is a natural result of children being more close-knit to particular groups, and suggests that perhaps it stems from a primal need for human contact after sitting in front of screens for the majority of their waking hours, but c’mon. You know where this is going to lead to.

Some parents are going to get concerned that their kids are hugging other kids, that their boys might be hugging other boys and thereby being transformed into homosexuals who eat American flags and their girls will sit beneath red lights during the wee hours of the night. And they’ll whine to school boards, who will follow in Hajinlian’s stupid footsteps and kick hugging on the curbside. While the story is very popular (it’s the most emailed article out of everything on the Times’ website) it’s interesting only with an asterik.

There’s a point at which something becomes so common that it doesn’t neccesarily need reporting, because once something like “teengage hugging” or “tegging” as some local news anchor may call it is brought into light by the mainstream media, people freak out about it and immediately see it as a terrible problem. But if you’re paying attention to your kids, shouldn’t you know they’re hugging more frequently? I picked up on it once I came to Elon, and I’ve noticed it from the schools back at my house. It just seems as though this is just another case of the media trying to make an issue of something that wasn’t a problem beforehand (unless you’re fond of affection in Hajinlian’s building.)

And remember, if you are going to hug, wear protection.

And remember, if you are going to hug, wear protection.

As for that cellphone in the picture at the very beginning of this post (which interestingly, is the same death-dealing device that I use), it’s also a piece of terrible…well…terror. Nevermind how parents used to feel that their kids never communicated with them, that there seemed to be an inconquerable monolith seperating the thought processes of progenitor and progeney. Now, they’re yaking too much, all thanks to text messages. Kids texting their parents is apparently going to stunt their social growth, leaving them to be a bunch of basement-dwelling, neck-bearded mouthbreathers. Well, the article doesn’t go into the basement-dwelling, but the insinuation is there.

Our children are talking to each other too much! They’re communicating! They’re interested in the lives of their friends! How dare they, I say. How dare they indeed. While there are extreme cases of kids doing nothing but texting (one 13-year-old cited in the article got up to 20,000 texts a month, leaving me to wonder how she had time to bathe and eat) there are always going to be extremes.

But to suggest that texting is terrible for kids because it lets them talk to their parents and friends more frequently, and that fostering positive relationships with your parents is a bad thing, as being a complete teenage years is something to be encouraged, is simply dumb. How about the dumbing down of the English language as a result of texting and its incessant use of abbreviations that someone become words of their own? Nah, there’s little indignation in that. That’s a matter of intellectualism, and who cares about that? Certainly not in such troubling times as these, when just the other day, I saw two children hugging with one arm outstretched, its fingers furiously thumbing the number pad.

Terrell Owens reacts to a text-induced finger injury.

Terrell Owens reacts to a text-induced finger injury.

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One flu over the cuckoo’s nest

For years the media has gone from one health scare to another, with each summer bringing with it a new viral terror that will result in a pandemic. There was swine flu, the west Nile virus and avian flu just to name a few. But it looked like they were all false alarms, nothing really came out of any of them, each outbreak was quickly contained and resulted in only a handful of deaths at the most.

It's happened before...

It's happened before...

Now it seems the real deal has arrived. The swine flu that has emerged from Mexico has, over the course of a few days, gone from a bizarre outbreak south of our border to an international crisis, with infections now reported not just in the U.S. and Mexico, but New Zealand, Spain and Canada all have confirmed cases, while Israel is concerned that it may have some infections as well. The Center for Disease Control and the feds have taken this all very seriously, announcing a state of emergency, with the CDC sending out constant warnings that the strain found in the U.S. is mild in comparison to its southern counterpart, and that contingencies need to be drawn up for the cancellations of schools and measures similar to those already taken in Mexico City, which has been nearly shut down for fear of further infections.

Like the last global flu pandemic, which took place in 1918, this new swine flu comes at an incredibly inconvenient time. Just as the world is trying to regain its economic footing, and while third world countries are at their weakest, the effects of even a minor pandemic could be disastrous. Cities in the first world could shut down, with economic activity brought to a crawl as employees stay home, due either to fear or illness. Global trade, already at a perilously low rate, would be crippled as nations tighten their borders.

Export-reliant countries, many of which are in the third world, would suffer incredibly from this. Not only would their revenues be cut from the drop in trade, but if the flu reaches their territory, their production would grind to a halt. The resources of global and domestic health services are already stretched too far, a pandemic would leave untold numbers of people without the means to care for themselves or loved ones, leaving governments the morbid decision of who to try and save with limited resources.

The terrible thing about a global health crisis of this nature is the fact that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There’s no way to throw money at a flu, no military action can be taken and even the most deft of diplomats can’t reason with a petri dish of viruses. Vaccinations will be implemented in the countries that can afford them, and the media will run tons of tips and tricks to ward off infection. But in the long run, if this flu mutates further, it could very well leap across the globe despite our best intentions, and there’s only so much modern medicine can do against a virulent, far-flung infection.

This isn’t the media grasping for ratings with footage of trucks spraying brush to kill mosquitoes or stock footage of chickens puttering about in their coops. This is the real thing, and there’s little the average person can do save for stay mindful and hope for the best.

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News briefs!

Put down those preemptive Peeps, it’s not Easter break yet. Here’s a quick rundown of everything that you’ll need to know until tomorrow…

  • Somali pirates boarded the U.S. container ship Alabama and are currently holding its captain, Richard Phillips captive, though the remainder of the ship is reportedly back in the control of its crew. The Alabama, which was carrying food aid intended for Mombasa, Kenya, was boarded at 7:30 a.m.. The crew has made contact with the media and some of their families, and it seems as though none of them have been hurt, despite their unarmed disadvantage against the gun-toting pirates.

    This comes just two days after the Malaspina Castle, a British ship, was boarded by pirates. Last year, almost 100 ships were attacked across the globe by pirates, 40 of which were assaulted close to Somalia. There’s been a strong international effort to bring about an end to such activities, with the American, Chinese, Japanese and Russian warships all patrolling the region.

    It’s nice to think that by tossing some battleships into the sea, this growing pirate problem can be put to an end, but they operate in such small groups, and can vanish so quickly that they’re akin to the small group of terrorists who laid siege to Mumbai last year.

  • Three cheers for diplomacy! If the State Department is to be believed, the U.S. will soon join up with Iran, the U.N. and other European powers discuss Iran’s nuclear program. This is, of course, pending Iran’s acceptance of its invite. Sure, Iran isn’t the most lovable of countries, but this is certainly an improvement over the U.S. wrinkling its brow and poo-pooing them from behind plate glass while they step ever closer to the bomb.
  • In a report that’s sure to shock everyone, the International Association for Dental Research in Miami concluded that prolonged partaking of sports drinks, with all of their hydrating, sugary goodness, can be bad for your teeth. Next week, they’ll decide that eating a diet comprised entirely of Fruit-Roll-Ups is also detrimental to one’s health.
  • Newt Gingrich has come out and said that the Obama administration is “intensely secular” and “anti-religious,” though Obama hasn’t done anything regarding religion one way or the other. Could it be that he’s creating a space, a void, perhaps even a separation between the church and the state? Meanwhile, I’ll go listen to Pearl Jam and boot up my Sega Genesis, because apparently it’s 1994 and Gingrich is important.

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Filed under Crime, Government, Health, International, Iran, Military, Morgan

Low prices we can believe in

Wal-Mart...eventually the only source for everything.

Wal-Mart...eventually the only source for everything.

Wal-Mart, that whipping dog that dares to give most of the American people what they want, is now stepping on Obama’s toes. Digital health records have long been a policy point for Obama, and they seem like a no-brainer provided that they’re done in an effective manner

The stimulus package included $19 billion in incentives in an attempt to begin the transition from paper to PC, but money from the government always comes with strings. In all honesty, Wal-Mart’s program will probably be more effective, and arrive sooner than Washington’s.

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