The Blood Test to Diagnose Down Syndrome Goes On Sale

Why I’m iffy about the awesomeness of this new blood test for Down Syndrome:

1. First of all, I’d like to say I’m glad the technology is out there. It can have some very valuable benefits. However, I’m worried it’s going to have expecting mothers who are high-risk for babies with DS rush to get this test, only to abort them should the test come back positive. If you are one of these people and you really, honestly believe you will not be able to provide for this child, there are families out there who would love the opportunity to care for and love them no matter what. Personally, I believe every person has a purpose and a reason to be here.

2. “Sequenom wants as many women to use its test as possible. The company suggested in its launch press release that 750,000 pregnant women at “high risk” for Down syndrome should use its test every year (that’s nearly a quarter of the 4.3 million pregnancies annually in the U.S.).” (Related: Point #4) Why? Because Heaven forbid children born with DS get the chance to have loving parents, a happy life, or a purpose on this earth. Or, to give them the benefit of the doubt, (which I’d like to) to do their part to help prepare the parents of children with DS for the experience ahead and to be able to best care for their child.

2. “The Sequenom test, with the clever name MaterniT21, isn’t perfect. In more than one percent of cases of Down syndrome, the test called the fetus normal. It also called a few normal fetuses abnormal.” So, that’s not good.

3. Do you think there might be a chance that sometime in the future, there might be government legislation requiring this test in order to be serviced by an OBGYN? Would this be considered a step to “cure” (read: wipe-out) Down Syndrome?

Now, I will say that having a test like this would, ideally, be beneficial overall. No one can deny that the opportunity to be prepared for having a child with DS will only help the parents, family, and the child.  I think it’s  cool that the technology is out there, I’m simply more concerned about those that would use the test for selfish reasons such as “I don’t want to have to put up with that,” or “if my child has DS I’ll be uncomfortable and hard work,” or “I don’t want to be that person” or what have you, rather than with the intent to be prepared and able to provide the best care possible for their children. Ultimately, I can see both sides of the argument; I can see the incredible benefits this technology can have, and also I can see the downsides of those who use it for the wrong reasons, which – unfortunately – is the case for pretty much every piece of technology we have.

(source)

Congress Officially Declared Frozen Pizza as a Vegetable

“On Tuesday, Congress decided that pizza is a vegetable. I have to imagine that this news instilled confusion in many Americans, as many Americans are (a) familiar with pizza, (b) familiar with vegetables and (c) sane.

But, to provide specifics that will in no way dispel your lingering thoughts that we are governed by morons but at least allow you some anthropological insight into how a group of morons who have been given permission to sit in a fancy room in Washington, D.C., and grunt at each other actually think, here is their thinking: Pizza is a vegetable for the purposes of determining what goes into public school lunches by virtue of the fact that pizza traditionally includes a schmear of tomato paste. (Botanically speaking, tomatoes are actually fruit, but we’re going to have to just let that slide.)”

“You may still be wondering how it came to pass that Congress arrived at the conclusion that pizza could count as a serving of vegetables. Wonder no more! Congress was guided along this path by lobbyists. And lobbyists can do all sorts of things, by magic! (Except provide nutritious lunches for children.)”

“Here’s a fun fact! If a child incorrectly identifies “pizza” as a “vegetable” on a standardized test, there’s an entirely different group of lobbyists who will argue that public school teachers have failed America’s children.”

(source)

“If there were any lingering doubts as to whom our elected representatives really work for, they were put to rest Tuesday when Congress announced that frozen pizza was a vegetable. The United States Congress voted to rebuke new USDA guidelines for school lunches that would have increased the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in school cafeterias and instead declared that the tomato paste on frozen pizza qualified it as a vegetable.

For this we can thank large food companies — in this case ConAgra and Schwan — which pressured Congress to comply with their financial interests. It simply doesn’t suit the makers of frozen pizza, chicken nuggets and tater tots for schools to offer real food in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

(source)

This is RIDICULOUS. Seriously? You think PIZZA is a vegetable? Now this goes back to how much effect big corporations’ lobbyists have on the government, and furthermore, how much effect the government has on our children, their health, and their future.

How should we handle this? There are three things we as a people can do:

1. If you happen to be in NY, join the movement and attend Occupy Big Food’s rally this Saturday from 1 to 3 in Zuccotti Park.
2. How about we elect people who will put the citizens they ought to be serving (and their future) as a priority?
3.  Lastly, – but most importantly – raise your own children. And don’t be stupid. 

Please and thank you.

Denmark’s New “Fat Tax”

gty butter fat foods jt 111002 wblog Denmark Introduces Fat Tax on Foods High in Saturated Fat

In the beginning of this month, Denmark introduced what is believed to be the world’s first “fat tax,” which effects foods high in saturated fat. The tax adds up to about $6.27 per pound of saturated fat in a food (why any meal would have a pound of saturated fat in it is beyond me. That would be… disgusting). Denmark’s motivation for initiating this tax is to help catch up their own population to the rest of Europe’s average life expectancy…. supposedly.

Although the aforementioned reason may be legitimate, I suspect that they won’t be too sad about the increase in revenue, either. This article even says that the percentage of tax on these foods aren’t enough to deter people from buying them, and that even a huge tax of 50% will only decrease consumption by 3%:  “Brownell’s research has found it takes a 1-cent-per-ounce tax to change behavior; anything lower, will do great at bringing in revenue but likely won’t lower soda consumption.”

“If foods with saturated fats now cost more, you don’t know what people will eat in their place. The hope is they’ll eat healthier things” (Washington Post) Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll go substitute their sat fatty foods with foods that are high in sugar. Or sodium. Neither of which are great for you.

But wait a second, why are they targeting saturated fat? Short answer: because it’s bad for you. Saturated fats are fats which contain all the hydrogen atoms they can bond do. More importantly, they raise your bad cholesterol. Which is, well, bad. And now you know.

Another issue I have with this tax is the “big brother” role the government has taken with this legislation. “Denmark finds every sort of way to increase our taxes,” said Alisa Clausen, a South Jutland resident. “Why should the government decide how much fat we eat?” (ABC News)

The one pro I can think of this tax is that it may point out foods high in saturated tax that people were not previously aware were bad for them. But even this would be more effectively executed by launching ad campaign (but why would they? That costs money, not make it). Another idea would be to use the money from the sat fat tax to subsidize locally grown, healthy, organic foods to bring down those prices and make people more inclined to substitute those foods for their junk food indulgences. ““We get the taxes, but never a reduction on anything to complement the increases, such as  on healthy foods,” said Clausen.” (ABC News)

This tax has been suggested to be an important “bellwether:” It is believed that it will test both whether the policy works, as well as the political appetite for such levying such fines – which implies a slippery slope.

What do you think about this current event? France is considering implementing a sugar tax under the same idea as Denmark’s sat fat tax. Do you think this could some day happen in the US?

Your definition of Cheating?

[this is something I wrote during school this past year that I meant to post but never did.]

Today in government we discussed a newspaper headline that claimed that the internet helped cheating. My teacher proposed a scenario of a married man in internet chatrooms, hitting up girls and saying “Hey, baby, I think you’re sexy, I wish I could see you.” Is he cheating?

Immediately, without really thinking about it, the word “yes” pushed through my lips.

There was a pause in which I realized that absolutely no one else had answered. I was the only one that said anything, so of course, my teacher continued to ask me questions. He asked for my definition of cheating. I responded by saying that cheating is if you lust after some one other than who you are committed to and act in any way, shape, or form on that temptation.  My teacher repeated that back to me and one of the guys said “What? No! Cheating is the actual physical act…”

I repeated my answer: “Okay, yes, there will be times that you’re going to lust after some one else, that’s a natural temptation. Cheating is when you act on it — if you do anything other than resist it.”

That’s my belief. …But is that what guys think nowadays? That they can fantasize about a porn star, sex-talk with any QTbaybieblodeXXX that pops up in a chatroom, do anything but actually sleep with another woman and we won’t be hurt and it’s not cheating because we’re still the only person they’re sleeping/having physical sexual conduct with?

Has society depleated commitment to only a physicial restraint?

To me, commitment is a whole package; it’s a commitment of your mind, your heart, your body, and a love enough to resist a sexual temptation.

If most men out there think that cheating is only done with your body, then my selection of Potential Suitors just got narrowed down.

A very interesting start to what’s bound to be a very interesting new term.

So my first term started last Friday.   First off, let me explain the situation: Exams for third term wre Wednesday and Thursday, we had the first day of the new term Friday, and now we have Spring Break until Monday.  So naturally, half the school skipped on Friday.

I, unfortunately, was not one of those people.

My first hour, choir, didn’t change. Except we got a new song.  And it’s totally strange.  To start, it’s named “Las Amarillas.”  The Yellows? Here are the lyrics.  The song’s originally in Spanish, but this is a translation:

The yellow larks fly from their cactuses
No longer will the cardinals sing happily
na-na-na
and na-na-no

The trees on the hillside, since they haven’t revived
For this the larks sing, or the nest hold them down
na-na-na
and na-na-no

You are little and beautiful, and the way you are, I love you
You look like a little rose from the shores of Guerrero
with your na-na-na
and na-na-no

My father was a sparrowhawk and I was born to peck and peck
Where I place my beak, I’m like a trumpeter
na-na-na
and na-na-no

Everyone has their farewells, but none
is like this one. 

Four times five is twenty,
three times seven is twenty-one.

Yeah, you read that right.  Multiplication!  The last verse is multiplication tables!!  Oh, I don’t understand, either.  And you know how directors sometimes have notes along with the song to tell you how each bit is meant to be sung? Continue reading

Till now, I’ve avoided blogging about politics, but here I go.

Congress just spent 800 billion dollars. How much is that? If you spent 1 million dollars every day since Jesus’s death, you wouldn’t have reached that. 1 million dollars a day for 2,000 years, and you still wouldn’t have spent as much as Congress just did. And what do you get in return? Virtually $13 a week, and economists say the stimulus plan will hurt the economy in the long run than if we just let things play out.

You know, when Obama talks about past economies, he never mentions that the recession in the 1980’s was worse than the one we’re in now. And he probably avoids bringing it up because we got out of that recession with tax cuts.

You know, as much as I’d still disagree with it, the bill would be more effective if it didn’t have so much pork in it. For example, in that bill is 30 something million or billion dollars to save some species of swamp mouse. Lots more, but my personal favorite is the 38 billion dollars to promote “urban electric vehicles.” AKA, golf carts.

I know, I know. I’m complaining but I haven’t offered any better solution. But how about this: Why don’t we just suspend taxes for a couple months? Not sales tax, but the other stuff. That would instantly put thousands of dollars of people’s own money (that they know how to best spend, themselves) back into their own pockets. It would require no expansion of government and it would be effective immediately. Even just suspending income tax! So Congress and all them would still get paid.