Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

High Fructose Corn Syrup Rebrands Itself  3

Posted on February 6th, 2011. About News and Politics.

It is worth posting for the first time in eight months for this: high-fructose corn syrup is now being called “corn sugar” on food ingredient labels. I ran across this article last fall and wondered if this was actually going to happen. Yesterday the label on the chocolate cakes at Costco proved that the time has arrived.

Senator Joe Wilson makes himself known to the country  3

Posted on September 9th, 2009. About News and Politics.

As Evan and I watched President Obama’s speech to Congress tonight regarding his healthcare plan, an interesting point arrived during which Obama claimed his plan did not provide federal coverage for illegal immigrants. Suddenly, this shout from the audience of “You lie!!” erupted. We looked at each other and had to spend a few seconds, baffled at who could get elected to Congress, and then be so low class as to shout this at the Commander in Chief. Then, I wondered if potentially it was not a member of Congress, but some heckler who had found a way into the Chamber past security.

After the speech, my question was answered with this article. Wow. First, South Carolina elects Senator Jim DeMint, who has definitely made headlines for himself as – well, anyway, I’ll move on. Let’s just say he has been noticed, even out here in Seattle. Then, the state’s governor stole headlines for over a week with this bit about the Appalachian Trial-turned-trip-to-Argentina, not allowing the story to die (even with the death of Michael Jackson filling the air waves) because he kept holding mea culpa press conferences. Now this. WOW.

What makes “this” even more significant to me is that this guy represents the district where I grew up. He was a SC state senator when I was growing up, and I shook his hand at many a Chapin Labor Day parade. He attended our town’s high school graduations and awards ceremonies. When our long-time U.S. representative, Floyd Spence, passed away in 2001, Wilson was elected to replace him.

Apparently, fact checkers have confirmed since the speech that the healthcare reform proposed by Obama does not provide funding for those in the U.S. illegally. Regardless of how one feels on this particular subject, why would you yell “You lie!” at the president when he makes this claim, especially when it turns out the president was the one telling the truth?

WOW. How can South Carolina, a fairly small state, produce so many politicians that grab national headlines with such frequency?

What do Iraq and the economy have to do with one another?  0

Posted on February 28th, 2009. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

I posted this blog commentary in September 2008, venting my frustration that the war in Iraq and the economy in crisis had been separated by the media and politicians as separate issues. Estimates indicate that anywhere from $1-3 billion (maybe I should write it as $1,000,000,000.00 to $3,000,000,000.00 for emphasis on how many zeros are present in these numbers) is being spent per month on the war in Iraq.

A member of my family forwarded an email that is circulating currently, which is currently sparking a familial discussion about whether the stimulus package is too expensive, whether it will work, etc. The focus of this forwarded message goes something like this: A billion is a huge number. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billlion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago no creatures walked upright on this planet. It then went on to outline how unfair this person thought it was that, of the 400,000-plus residents of New Orleans, the region is requesting so many billions of dollars, which works out to over $1 million per household when divided evenly. Then, at the end, there a not-so-poignant remark about how irritated the author is that he/she still has to dial “1” for English. I’m not sure that adding the issue of immigration into the message helped to illustrate the main point (it’s not the fault of immigrants that a billion is a large number, right?), but in any case, it was there.

My first reaction to this is – this is being circulated by someone out there critical of the stimulus package who thinks the government is spending too much. Does this same person recognize that he/she was (likely) in support of an overseas conflict costing $12-36 billion yearly? Many estimate the total cost of the war will near $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000.00) when factoring in disability payments for veterans, healthcare and psychiatric costs, rebuilding efforts, interest on the loans we have taken to pay for the war in the first place, etc.

At least the stimulus package gives us infrastructure we desperately need. It makes our buildings more energy efficient. It funds education. As someone in Washington state, I’m pleased that it replaces our volcanic monitoring equipment, despite how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal may feel. My point is – we get something from the use of this money. Tangible things in the U.S., built by people living here. We’re investing in children who will make the country better. The $1 trillion to be spent on Iraq when all is said and done does what? Demolishes and then rebuilds a foreign nation that was never a threat to us? Pays to rehabilitate and care for returning veterans who should not have been sent into harm’s way in the first place? People who support the latter and don’t support the former are using a line of thinking which I cannot understand (unless the one arguing in favor of spending in Iraq is a stockholder in an energy company enjoying a no-bid contract over there).

Gabriel’s new president  0

Posted on February 2nd, 2009. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

My son, despite being 18 months old, was able to enjoy Obama’s inauguration as millions of his fellow Americans did on January 20th. He will not remember it, but I hope he appreciates the photos we took.

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Please excuse the bump on the forehead. He is, after all, a toddler, and sometimes walls and the floor can be nuisances for him. 🙂

January 20, 2009 arrived – finally  0

Posted on January 25th, 2009. About News and Politics.

A friend emailed me this morning, stating his surprise that I had not blogged about the inauguration. I suppose there was such extensive coverage of the event that I did not feel I could add much. I will comment that the most common theme from the media was how wonderful it was that an African-American man could be elected president in a country where, as he stated in his speech, his father may not have been served at a restaurant in D.C. 60 years earlier. I agree – that is very cool.

While I am glad the racial barrier to the presidency has been broken, I have a confession to make: I did not vote for Obama because of his race. Oops, there. I said it. I looked at the candidate, his views, his plans for the nation, the articulate way in which he expresses himself. I believe he could restore some of the good will we have lost over the past eight years, and I relished the idea of valuing science over ideology. I think he will be an excellent president, and that is why I am happy he is now the commander-in-chief. To have voted for him purely because of his race could be a form of racism, could it not? No – I believe it transcends race altogether for this country to have truly selected the best candidate, and to have judged him, in the words of Dr. King, not on the color of his skin, but the content of his character.

Yes, we did  1

Posted on November 6th, 2008. About News and Politics.

I, along with the other 64.9 million Americans who voted for him, am pleased with the election of Barack Obama as the upcoming U.S. president. I believe he will be an excellent commander-in-chief, and many of those who did not vote for him will benefit under his leadership. The press is speculating heavily on the reasons for such a clear win. I have heard it is because McCain messed up by choosing Palin as his running mate, and I have read that the economy soured McCain’s chances.

The truth is – Obama did not win because of an unforced error by McCain, or because the economy is in trouble. Obama won because he had a real message. For 21 months, he stayed consistent in his message, continued delivering it, was unwavering in his loyalty to it, and he remained optimistic. Over a two year period, he drew voters to him, rally by rally, city by city, and inspired people to believe the best. His opponents lacked a definitive, consistent message, and their strategy changed every one to two weeks. If putting down his foreign policy experience didn’t work, then it was on to Bill Ayers. When that didn’t work, it was on to accusations of socialism. It became very apparent at the end that the goal was to do whatever was necessary to get elected; by then, it was too late. Americans decided they liked Obama’s positive ideals, and finally, finally, the side using negative campaigning self-destructed.

The election – with two weeks to go  0

Posted on October 20th, 2008. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

For as much passion as I hold for politics (particularly national politics), I would have thought this historic election would have provided great fodder for this blog. Yet, I have found that plenty of people out there are saying what I wish to say more eloquently than I would say it. The negativity makes me angry, but if I blogged everytime the GOP presidential and vice-presidential candidates behave in a manner that is hypocritical, reprehensible, or non-Christian, I would do nothing but sit in front of my computer, typing furiously day after day. I believe a few comments will illustrate how I’m feeling:

  • When Sarah Palin was selected as John McCain’s running mate, I, like the rest of the country, was inspired by her…to finally donate to the Obama campaign. I have never given money to a campaign, but this was the one. That $150 million Obama raised in September? You can thank Sarah Palin for it.
  • I am constantly fearful for Obama’s safety. He’s so close to victory, and all it would take is one misguided lunatic to end it all. It’s frightening. When Sarah Palin half smiles at rallies as her supporters call him a terrorist and yell things like “kill him,” I have to wonder – where are these Christian principles she espouses? I hear much more Christian things coming from Obama’s lips than from McCain’s or Palin’s. The right-wing Republicans should be voting Democratic in this election, but I suppose voting against one’s self interests is not a new concept.
  • While we’re on the topic of Sarah Palin, have you noticed that she will state things as fact that are easily disproved? I’m thinking of the firing of her public safety commissioner for not firing her brother-in-law, the panel of eight Republicans and four Democrats who found she violated Alaska’s ethics law, and her comment (I’m paraphrasing) that she is so pleased that the panel found she did not violate the ethics law. What?! I half expect her to tell the media how pleased she is to be awarded the Nobel Prize or to state as a fact that scientists have proved the polar icecaps are reaccumulating. As long as you say it definitively and with a straight face, I guess that makes it true somehow?
  • In 2000 when I was living in South Carolina, I had a great deal of respect for John McCain during the GOP primary. I didn’t agree with all of his stances, but the man was respectable. I will never forgive him for this election. He has thrown his principles out the window to try to win the presidency, and as a result, I predict he will lose. He has attempted to embrace the sort of negative campaigning that allowed Bush to beat him in 2000, but what he doesn’t understand is – that worked in South Carolina. It doesn’t jive in most of the country. People at their cores are still decent, and the negativity has gone over the top for most. I will also never forgive him for placing the country’s future in such great jeopardy by choosing the running mate he has chosen. How selfish of him to place her in such a position of power. He needs to really start putting “country first” and ambition-to-win-the-presidency second.
  • Man, isn’t Tina Fey awesome?!
  • I am so glad Joe Biden finally called the other side out about “pro-America.” In their rallies they frequently speak of “small town American values,” “real Americans,” and those who are “pro-American.” Since when did people living in large cities lack values? Why are those in small towns better than those who live in cities? Tax revenues from cities often fund smaller towns – so I guess we’re not pro-America when we’re paying to support all of those “real Americans.” Way to go, Joe.
  • If the other side does win, I’m glad I’m somewhat sheltered in Seattle, although I do love South Carolina very much. 🙂
  • How can anyone be undecided at this point?!

It’s no longer lipstick, but the economy  0

Posted on September 24th, 2008. About News and Politics.

While I, along with millions of others around the world, have been experiencing visceral reactions to the market’s rise and fall over the past two weeks, I suppose the one sliver of good that can be gleamed from this crisis is that Americans are being forced to evaluate what really matters. After years of anti-intellectualism in the political arena, now they want an intelligent “elitist” to save their portfolios and pensions. The media found Sarah Palin intriguing, with her moose-hunting and lipstick. Some Americans seemed to think she was qualified to become the vice-president because she decided against having an abortion (and I suspect some still do believe this makes her qualified to run the country). Now, morals are well and good, but please save our money! It’s interesting that the right wing can tout morality, but when threatened with economic uncertainty, well – the abortion issue may not matter quite so much anymore.

I ran across this in a recent MSNBC article:

Last week’s near-meltdown in the financial markets and the subsequent debate in Washington over a proposed government bailout of troubled financial institutions have made the economy even more important in the minds of voters. Fully 50 percent called the economy and jobs the single most important issue that will determine their vote, up from 37 percent two weeks ago. In contrast, just 9 percent cited the Iraq war as their most important issue, its lowest of the campaign.

The media continues to separate “the economy” and “the Iraq war” as issues, and I don’t think this is possible. Our economy is in a lot of trouble right now, in large part because we spend more than we earn. We borrow, and borrow, and borrow – to pay for things we cannot afford, whether it is for homes or for wars. The first thing Obama should do when he gets to the White House is begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. I heard recently on NPR that the war is costing approximately $5000 per second. If we’re going to throw $700 billion into bailing out financial institutions, then the money has to come from somewhere, and I would prefer it not be in the form of newly printed currency.

I think it’s interesting that the worst the right-wing can say about Obama is that he is some sort of Messiah-type figure. After the last two weeks, they had better hope that he is capable of performing miracles.

Brilliant segment on "The Daily Show"  0

Posted on September 5th, 2008. About News and Politics.

I love segments on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report when they are able to speak volumes simply by rolling raw news footage and allowing hypocrisy to show itself.

I hope you will take the time to watch this clip prior to the presidential election in November. For anyone who thinks there is a “liberal media bias,” please think again. Please pass it around. I really wish this would get more play in the national media, because it is quite telling.

Long time, no blog  2

Posted on July 27th, 2008. About Baby Dodds, Books, News and Politics, Ramblings.

My last substantive blog post was published on June 6th. I’ve fallen behind after two demanding months (albeit, intriguing and important months, but demanding). There are many topics about which I would like to write, so I will try to hit on highlights:

  • Gabriel turned one year old in mid-July! People always manage to sound a bit cheesy when they use that hackneyed expression: “It seems like only yesterday that…” It is so appropriate when thinking about how quickly time is passing in your child’s life, though – or rather, your time with your child. I honestly have a tough time believing the labor, the delivery, the first days home from the hospital – that all of that was now over a year ago. Gabriel has grown from a helpless (adorable!) neonate to a crawling, climbing, laughing, mischievous (yes, he’s already figuring some things out), and loving little boy. It’s been a terrific year.
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  • My two chief resident months at Harborview in May and June brought me back into the acute neurological care setting, and reminded me of how exciting and rewarding it can be. I had the chance to be a part of early intervention in several potentially very bad stroke cases with very happy endings, and these persuaded me to apply for a fellowship in vascular neurology (ie, stroke). I was accepted for it several weeks ago – so I will be the stroke fellow at Harborview for 2009-2010. I look forward to my career as a stroke neurologist.
  • I’m trying to keep a long-term perspective about the economy. Surely it will improve, right? It has not been that bad for that long. Still, I know there is a problem when my best-performing investment is my money market savings account. Hopefully it’s all about dollar-cost averaging.
  • I will blog more about this soon (it warrants its own post), but I’m reading a book right now entitled The Smartest Guys in the Room. It’s about the rise and fall of Enron, and how Enron was able to become as large as it became while operating with fake numbers. I find the California energy “crisis” part of the Enron tale the most intriguing. Remember those rolling blackouts in California years ago? Enron apparently had power grids brought down to create a sense of panic about a presumed electricity shortage, thus driving up the prices. George Bush and others in Washington, D.C. publicly commented that California got itself into this mess, so it has to work it out for itself. Yet, California didn’t get itself into this mess – Enron was manipulating the price. Which brings me to our current oil situation. I’m not a big fan of oil for environmental reasons – but come on. I don’t care how quickly China and India are growing; I just refuse to believe that they have grown so fast in three or four years that the price of a barrel of oil suddenly needs to be greater than $140/barrel. I smell Enron. Oil companies have been posting record profits. After learning about the ins and outs of Enron, I’m thinking, “This game has been played before.” There is potentially an artificial shortage being created to cause a panic, thus pushing people to pay $4.50/gallon of gasoline and persuading people to allow off-shore drilling. What has George Bush pushed for his entire time as president? Drilling in Anwar. This seems awfully suspicious. But more of this later, once I’ve finished reading the book. Disclaimer: I’m not an economist. Just a citizen.
  • Learning French, while very difficult as an adult, must be so much easier now than it was even ten years ago. Evan gave me a Zune last December, and it has changed my life. Now, thanks to Coffee Break French and Learn French By Podcast, while my French is still very poor (I never took a class in it in high school or college), it is leaps and bounds ahead of where I was before I got my Zune. It’s fascinating. Because it’s so portable, I can learn on the bus, at lunch in the cafeteria, or on an airplane (although not recently because I always seem to be at the mercy of a certain little boy traveling with me). Anyway – it’s worth pointing out that with the Zune, unlike the iPod, I can listen to NPR while walking from my car into work if I don’t want to leave a segment unfinished. It’s a delightful little device!

I’ll stop here for now, but these are some of my recent activities/contemplations/celebrations/concerns! A la prochaine.

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