Syria

Maybe the Middle East needs dictators to keep sectarian violence from getting out of control. Which kills more people and is worse for the country: dictatorship or sectarianism?

Something to seriously consider before we get all gung ho about democracy in the Arab world.

-JS

Advertisements

Un-injunct

I was listening to the gubernatorial debate as I was parked in front of my house and tweeting irritably about our dismal future with either Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman as governor. It was a rough day of classes and hearing the lame responses to debate questions didn’t help smooth it out. I finally stopped listening in disgust, walked up my three flights of stairs, booted up my PC, and opened my news homepage to see an uplifting announcement:

The injunction on federally funded stem-cell research has been lifted, and, drum roll…. its a permanent lift.

Even though California is going down the shit hole, I guess there are still good things in this world.

-JS

Stem Cell Halt

I was so excited by President Obamas reinstatement of federally funded stem cell research last year that, in a fit of passion, I almost threw myself into research full time to take advantage of the success. I know that research is not my destiny now, but the milestone in the blurring boundaries between science and politics gave me reassurance that maybe the guys running our country aren’t idiots after all. That is, until I read the news today: Court Halts Stem Cell Expansion.

WTF, seriously.

Do the courts want to push our country further and further behind Europe and Asian in science? Because they are sure doing a hell of a good job what with virtually eliminating caps on campaign fund raising and now this.

I’m too upset to do justice to this post now but I’ll add some thoughts in a few days when more on this court “halt” comes out.

-JS

I Know, Science and Religion…

Cloning has been a much debated subject for most of my conscious life. I am proud to live in a time where these discoveries are being made, and I have the chance to be on the forefront of research within this field given the opportunity. But our country is much divided on the ‘rightness’ of the issue: Is cloning a miraculous discovery of science, or an attempt at playing God? The article “Cloning Trevor” by Kyla Dunn in Taking Sides gives some thoughts on the subject that I found interesting and disheartening at the same time. Therapeutic cloning has the potential to save so many lives, yet the Congress of the first Bush Admin and Bush Admin itself had the gall to pass laws saying that these lives weren’t worth the using the cells of embryos needed for research. An entire branch of research has been practically halted based on religious assumptions, and my reaction to this was anger, the honorable kind.

I have many complaints about the government for the past eight years. I can honestly say there were very few times I was proud to call myself an American until this past November. I have traveled abroad and have been ashamed to admit rumors were true like the laxness of financial regulation, the actions that take place at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, and the government inaction during Hurricane Katrina. These are only a few of the things that have disappointed me, but the amount of meddling in scientific research has put me on edge for a while now.

I am a biology major, and plan on working in the medical field either in patient care or research. This has been a passion of mine since I was very young, and it continues to grow the more I understand about the human body and about the condition of our nation’s health care system. I have read and been taught on the importance of keeping medical research in America on the forefront, that it is one of our advantages as a major world player. But for the past few years I feel like this sector has been severely neglected, as have others. Reading this article fanned the flames a bit on something I had been feeling for sometime, and in a way I felt it put my own reactions into words I couldn’t find before.

I grew up non-denominational Christian. I’ve had a passion for God and his creation for as long as I can remember. I believe, as a Christian, I am here to help bring healing and well-being to the world and I feel I can do that through medicine on one level, and through my treatment of people on another. Knowing this about my faith, I find it ridiculous for religious groups to say that cloning of any kind is ‘playing God.’ If by helping save lives we are ‘playing God’ then I will gladly play God for the rest of my career. Therapeutic cloning has potential to heal that we haven’t even imagined yet, and with lack of support and funding, we may never imagine in this country. I think the people that believe this wonderful technology is something against the Christian religion haven’t researched it to know otherwise. They don’t know the facts, or know too little of the process to see what good it could do. I have a major problem with the type of people that attend church and call themselves social conservatives for the purpose of being Pro-Life, or anti-stem cell research, without out reading up on what they are actually against first.

Therapeutic cloning could reduce or even undo damage caused by heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s, spinal injuries, and multiple other diseases and conditions that cause irreversible tissue damage. The possibilities are endless, though the risks are great. Anyone knowing the potential reactions the implanted stem cells have on the host body knows that this procedure and theory is far from perfect, but only with more research can it be improved. Stem cells are not taken from a fetus that has specialized cells already. They are taken from an embryo in its early stages, before its true fetal development has been determined (more fully explained in article). These are also things done in a Petri dish, not a human. Since when do we conceive children in Petri dishes? I don’t think anyone would agree that the future of the human race should depend on this process. It’s too sci-fi. Too frightening to thing of having a brother than was born in a lab. The best place to have a child develop is in a womb, in a mother, in a loving, caring situation. No one is trying to create human life here. The scientists that have devoted their lives to this research have been trying to enhance the human life that is already present and hopeless in hospitals and homes across the nation. And to cheapen that intention and call it ‘playing God’ angers me to a great extent.

I think a quote from a distressed mother sums up my thoughts for this subject very well: “How dare they tell me that I cannot save my son’s life?…’Let your child die, because my religious belief is more important than your child’s life.’…[they] have no right to stop me from saving my son’s life (Taking Sides 67).” We are concerned about human rights in America, supposedly. I think to say an embryo in a Petri dish has more rights to be protected than the people who are alive now and suffering from incurable conditions is completely outrageous. We need a reality check in this country. Social conservatives are afraid of something like cloning coming to be a commonplace reality here and they have it in their minds that this is something evil that has to be stopped. They have lost sight of the ultimate human right, which is the right to live and choose what they please. I agree with this mother. Choose what you want for your own embryos and children, but let everyone else choose to do what is right for their families and themselves. Let them choose a less risky option if they want, but at least let them make the choice on their own. For all the hope that’s been lost in the past eight years, we owe them that.

I think these religious interests groups and churches have forgotten what Jesus did when he came here: he healed the sick. If the only representation of God in the flesh we have is Jesus shouldn’t we be following that example? There is so much negative thinking in the realm of science by religious activists. People that think they can’t possibly coincide. If God truly created the world, science is the tool to discover how he did it, and what laws and patterns he set in place at the beginning so that millions of years later human life would surface and have the consciousness and ability to think about things before we start pointing fingers and making laws and accusing people of trying to play God. Stem-cell research is the beginning of something very big. Are we going to let our closed-mindedness stopper the success it could mean for the field of medicine? Or are we going to accept progress, and see where it takes us, what it lets us learn about God’s world? As believers, we forget that even our own faith was called wrong and people were killed for it… Sure, we don’t kill people for it anymore, but killing hopes and dreams may be even worse. Instead of persecution, they call it politics.

Lucky for us there is a new administration and Congress. I have high hopes, but there is a lot going on with the economy and foreign affairs that it may be a while before medical research gets a chance to shine again. Hopefully it begins to get the attention and praise it deserves soon, or I should start looking into a new career path.

-JS

The Moment

3009095384_ac9ac619d3

I will admit I had my doubts. And I still have my concerns about him being our next president. But on Tuesday night during his speech I feel a great amount of inspiration and… well, hope, for lack of a better word. This truly is a great moment in our history. I’m finally proud to call myself an American for the first time in six years.

3008252877_c66423ef8d

Godspeed Barack Obama. I hope you can do it.

Citizenship: Do You Deserve It?

Now, this is an undeveloped thought, but I think those than do not properly utilize their American citizenship should have it revoked, or they should have to go through a regular naturalization process that foreigners go through to recieve citizenship. They take classes on American history, symbols, traditions. The come to appreciate the ability to vote at even small elections and know the necesssity of paying taxes. They see the perks of being a U.S. citizen. But, there are those who are living here, as citizens, and complain about their government, a right of free speech, yes, but something unwarranted if you don’t help make decisions about who is in office. Citizens that don’t vote? Don’t get me started. Citizens that complain about taxes? Hmph. Sure you have the right to not vote. You have the option to be apathetic. So go live somewhere where you don’t have to make any of these decisions and still get  to live in your bubble. Stop taking up space on the freeway and stop acting like the only thing that matters is myspace and your iPhone.

I have high hopes for my generation but sometimes I wonder what it will be like when we actually are in power. Scary.

More to come on this one when I’m not on opiates. Having a hard time putting complete thoughts into a form that is communicable.

-JS

Supporting Role is Misdirected; or Just Limelight Hungry

Please tell me why.

Of all the capable Republican females in government out there that are much more able to win over the women’s vote. Why? I was not surprised by the debate tonight. I knew the media was exaggerating her coverage beforehand and she was going to do fine. But fine. She had nothing extraordinary to say. Nothing we didn’t already know. Nothing we haven’t already seen. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if others agree with me on this– I am an average American. I know the types of educated decisions I make, and it scares me that so many of our politicians run on that idea. I do not want an average undereducated American running the nation. I want someone educated, connected, persuasive, extraordinary. I don’t want someone I can have a beer and go golfing with. I want someone who will go go go 24/7 to make sure my country is being run properly. No golf, no beer. Get a cup of coffee and an ironed tie and get to work.

I would love to see a woman in the White House, but the right woman. Of course, to me that woman is Hillary Clinton. If we are going to have a woman with that type of executive power I want one that knows more about nukes and fiscal repsonsibility than hunting and where Russia is in relation to Alaska.

But enough about her. I am tired of seeing her on the news. I want to see McCain’s cranky face in the screen telling us more about how he’s fuck up America. I think she has had her time and it’s time for her to get backstage and let the real players run their scene. But I think she loves the spotlight too much.

-JS