Some People Are Really, Really Dumb…

Apparently, a 15-year-old girl fell down an open manhole on Staten Island recently, so her parents are suing the city for damages. The catch is: the girl was texting at the time and wasn’t paying attention when she fell. Apparently, “sewer line workers are supposed to cut off pedestrian access to work sites or at least mark them with warning signs,” and that’s the basis of the lawsuit…but still…

Personally, I do my best not to walk and text if I can avoid it, and I certainly don’t text while driving (but I will occasionally while I’m at a stop light…if Brooke’s in the car, I just have her do it for me…). Talking on your phone is bad enough while you’re driving – just hit the interstates here in St. Louis and you’ll see plenty of crazies talking on their phones, not using turn signals, and just doing a terrible job staying in their lanes. Texting is pretty ridiculous, though, and even worse when you blame someone else because you’re an idiot.

CSPAN’s Entertainment Network

It’s funny to watch Gratzer squirm. 🙂

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kucinich during the Primaries last year…he’s a little too left, even for me…but I like his stance in this CSPAN video (only 2.5 min long…). He’s calling out Dr. David Gratzer, the author of a book titled “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Healthcare.” Apparently, Gratzer rails against the Canadian health care system, pointing out the typical, tired conservative arguments of “6 month wait times” to be seen by a physician. Kucinich isn’t having any of that, pointing out Canadian studies showing that the median wait time is 3-4 weeks for certain procedures (ones that aren’t life-threatening, otherwise they’d be done sooner), which is apparently similar to that of the United States. And, nearly all of Canadians have health care. And it’s affordable. I’m sure Gratzer has some good points in the book (which I haven’t read…because I don’t read…), and some of his statistics are probably sound, but there are a wealth of other statistics carried out by the Canadian government and other organizations that say otherwise. “Lies, damned lies, and Statistics…”

Although this particular video doesn’t bring it up, I’m sure you’ve heard various Republican congresspeople (specifically, John Boehner…) asking the question: “do you want a bureaucrat in Washington coming between you and your doctor?” Well no, I don’t. But neither do I want some profit-hungry businessperson doing it either, and that’s what we’ve got right now. Brooke and I are lucky to have some pretty good health care, as I’m attending a medical school-based graduate program and have it available to us. I can’t begin to imagine what other folks are going through, that have to pay and arm and a leg (sometimes literally) for coverage that is worse than ours with a substantially higher deductable. It just annoys me that they keep spouting off this “bureaucrat coming between you and your doctor” rhetoric like it’s any different than what I’ve got now.

At least, if I’ve got a bureaucrat between me and my doctor, I have the opportunity to vote them out of office. I can’t do that to a CEO.


I have been administering the Webster Hills UMC website for a year now, largely making basic content changes and adding Newsletter information whenever it comes out on Wednesdays. I’ve never really been very happy with the system, personally, as it isn’t really a user-friendly system. We are using ACS Technologies Extend, which is specifically designed for churches, to allow full integration between web content, online calendering systems and financial systems (i.e. the ability to make automatic withdrawals as an offering each month, or see how much you’ve donated that year, etc.). That’s all well and good, but the back-end system is so arcane that you need to go to training seminars to fully understand it, let alone get the people at your church to deal with it. Since I’m a bit more comfortable doing web content management, I just kinda took it on, but I really don’t understand how half of it works.

Anyway, we’re moving to a new system. ACS is difficult to deal with, and not particularly cheap. We already had an account and server with, and they provide many useful FREE tools, like WordPress (which my site runs on), to install and update automatically. Very, very user friendly once it’s set up. I chose Joomla to use for the new church site, as it provides a bit more flexibility with themes and plugins, allowing me to make it look how I want it to.

The site is currently sitting at (now defunct, as of 09.02.09). It doesn’t quite have the bandwidth I’d like, so it may seem a bit slow, but it’s much more functional. The other benefit, as the guy that’s been putting information up there for a year, is that you can log in and simply click “Edit” on any article you want to. Very, very easily. This means that the church staff can just go on and change information themselves rather than sending me an e-mail and hoping I get it done that day. Articles can be uploaded by anyone and approved by an administrator. I can do polling. I can move the poll from one spot to another. I can have a rotating banner at the top of the screen. I can make that banner as large or as small as I want. These are all things that I was unable to do with ACS, which made life truly annoying…

Anyway, check it out and give me suggestions. I don’t have all the content on the new site yet, but I’m hoping to shift it over to “www” sometime mid- to late-July. You should check out the regular site first, though…keep in mind that I didn’t design that…just been managing it…

McDonald’s Feeds You on your Break?!

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Tip/Wag – Cynthia Davis & Fox News
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Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis (R-O’Fallon) has been making a few headlines around these here parts because of her newsletter June newsletter that stated the following:

“Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted … Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another … Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.”

A variety of “liberal rags” picked up on this, including our own Riverfront Times (where she was voted “Ass Clown of the Week”…hehehehe…), and Keith Olberman’s show, “Countdown.”

For a more amusing take on it, however, I leave you with Stephen Colbert, above. He talks about her for the first minute or so and then goes on to discuss Mark Sanford (which is also funny, but not really pertinent to Rep. Davis).

Anyway, I’m just glad she’s not my representative.

Side-Note: Davis was also mentioned in an article yesterday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying that she, and a few other Missouri Republicans, have been attending meetings called by a California Dentist, Orly Taitz, that calls Obama’s citizenship into question. And even if his birth certificate is genuine, she says “he can’t be president because his father was Kenyan.” Seriously.

I want my Tylenol!

This is just crazy talk.

According to that blurb, the FDA has voted to reduce the maximum amount of acetaminophen (Tylenol) that can be administered over-the-counter to 650 mg. For those that don’t know, “Extra Strength” falls around 1000 mg per dose. According to CNN, “a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention population-based report, that estimated that acetaminophen was the likely cause of most of the estimated 1,600 acute liver failures each year.” Also, “overdoses of acetaminophen have been linked to 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations and 458 deaths during the 1990s.”

Now, I’ve got mixed feelings about this… First of all, if I have a headache, I take the maximum dose (1000 mg) and it goes away. Simple as that. Done it for years. Regular strength usually doesn’t work as well, hence why Extra is kinda nice. Now, I’m just going to have to take three pills of Regular Strength (equaling 975 mg) to get the same efficacy.

Here’s the issue: people that have liver issues probably shouldn’t be taking acetaminophen. Alcoholics shouldn’t take acetaminophen. People that are drunk shouldn’t take acetaminophen. EVERYONE ELSE is probably okay (please correct me if I missed one there). The reason it’s a problem is because acetaminophen is metabolized in your liver by a specific enzyme, CYP2E1 (and others, but that’s the biggie here), and this enzyme also metabolizes alcohol. Problem is, it’ll take care of the alcohol first before going after the acetaminophen. Therefore, if you take acetaminophen while you have lots of alcohol in your system, it will hang around in your blood stream. If it stays in your blood too long without being metabolized by CYP2E1, it is converted to a “free radical,” which then goes on to wreak havoc to your liver, amongst other organs, causing acute organ failure. Chronic alcoholics also have less glutathione in their bodies, and that compound is very important for clearing the other dangerous metabolites of acetaminophen.

So yes, you don’t want acetaminophen hanging around all that long. And if you have liver problems, you shouldn’t take it. Or if you’re drinking, you shouldn’t take it (take naproxen or ibuprofen instead).

But making me take an extra pill, when I detest taking pills, is just dumb.

Rockin’ Robin

So, I’m toying with Twitter to a very small extent. Generally, using one social networking site is plenty for my taste, but there are many folks that to use the Twitter service instead and, due to the wonders of RSS, it’s arguably easier to keep track of.

I only mention this because I’ve added a few feeds to the right-hand column of this page, kinda on a trial basis. Right now, I’ve added Stephen Colbert,, Joystiq, GWJ and Giant Bomb (the latter three are gaming-related) to see if it works alright. I’ve only got the top two posts from each feed, but I think I can track up to 20 posts with this particular WordPress plugin.

Anyway, I’ll be messing with it. We’ll see. I don’t plan on actually posting with Twitter often (or ever), but I have tasted the Kool-Aid and may give it a go…

By the way, I don’t know why it sometimes says “no public messages” and sometimes doesn’t. I’m still working out some kinks, obviously… 😛

Huckabee’s “Daily Show” Interview

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Mike Huckabee Extended Interview Pt. 1
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Mike Huckabee was on the Daily Show last week and I finally got to watch the episode this past Sunday (as we were in Kansas City for the rest of the weekend…had a great time!). The interview ran long, so the episode didn’t contain the whole thing. With the wonders of the interwebs, however, it has all been posted to their website!

Huckabee and Stewart had a lengthy discussion on the issue of abortion. While I disagree with Huckabee, I can at the very least appreciate this interview as a thought-provoking and well-mannered discussion on a complicated issue.

I will take issue with one specific part of Huckabee’s argument here, however. Around the 3:20 mark in the video above, Huckabee defines the point at which “life” begins. “I believe life begins at conception. 23 chromosomes from a male and 23 from a female female create a DNA schedule that’s never existed before…biologically and scientifically it’s irrefutable that that’s when life begins.” Now, one could make a philosophical argument about what exactly life means and what it looks like, but I will instead refute the whole “biologically and scientifically it’s irrefutable” part of his argument… Just because two halves of DNA have been put together to make chromosomes, you do not have “life.” Even if you have one cell, you do not have “life.” Even if you have a group of cells, you do not have “life.” [Note: Huckabee goes on to address whether we consider it “human life” or not, but doesn’t elaborate much on that] As Wikipedia states, in order to be considered “alive,” one must meet certain criteria, including homeostasis, organization, metabolism, adaptation, growth, response to stimuli and reproduction. You could say that a cell is capable of doing those things (and yes, indeed, a cell is capable of doing those things!), BUT it’s only capable of doing those things in the controlled environment of a uterus. That’s the ONLY place. Other single-celled organisms, like bacteria, are capable of doing it in all kinds of places (that’s the very important “adaptation” part of the definition of life).

As another example, I work with cell culture systems, which essentially means that I grow cells in a flask that I give specially-made growth factors and nutrients to keep them “alive,” before I allow them to “die” and see how that happened. So, yes, from a technical standpoint, they have “life” (otherwise, you can’t get “death”). However, these are just cells. If I took them out of that flask, they would not survive. They would never be productive. They would never grow into an organism. This is the problem with Huckabee’s (and the Pro-Life movement’s) argument, in my opinion. If you took sperm and egg and did not implant them into a uterus, you would never get a child. Even if you took a fetus out of the mother, it would not survive on its own. That’s, at least, where the difference lies for me. Obviously there are many that disagree with that interpretation, but that’s usually where I put “the beginning of life:” the point at which an individual can survive (perhaps with help from an incubator) outside of the mother. That point is somewhere around the end of the second trimester, or early third trimester, if I remember correctly. And this is why I generally go against late-term abortions (and so do many Pro-Choice individuals).

I do, however, agree with the future implications that Huckabee puts forward, especially talking about “value of life” as a whole. He sees it as a slippery slope. He uses the example of people in nursing homes, as your children would refer to you as an “inconvenience” or as an “interruption,” the same things that are frequently said of the possibility of having children when they aren’t desired. Jon Stewart eventually goes on to try and reframe the argument as a sovereignty issue for the Pro-Choice camp (i.e. you don’t have control over your body…the government does). Both of these two points are valid and discussed at length in the interview.

For those that care, here’s Part 2 and Part 3 of the extended interview. The whole thing is something like 15 minutes long across the three parts.

The whole thing is a complicated issue and neither side will ever fully agree on it, I’m afraid. But, interviews like this hopefully foster greater understanding between both sides, as the issue is discussed intelligently and reasonably (unlike many other discussions around the internet…).

Not quite how I remember it

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

This article in the New York Times outlines what an Explorers group (a Boy Scouts of America co-ed affiliate program) are doing in Imperial, TX. What is it these Explorers are doing? You know…camping, backpacking, getting leadership skills, etc?

Give up?

Being trained to fight terrorism and serve as border-patrol agents.

We’re talking 14- to 16-year-old kids using air pellet guns to learn to chase “down illegal border crossers” and to experience “more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out ‘active shooters,’ like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses.”

Now, I realize that not all Explorer posts are doing this, but at least according to the article, while there are other Explorer posts more focused in science, aviation and medicine, “more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members.”

I just generally don’t like it, but I’m not sure I have a valid reason. Many of the boys in my Boy Scout Troop growing up were the kinds of kids that went hunting with their fathers every Fall and didn’t generally go on to big name colleges, let alone graduate school. Law enforcement is certainly a viable career choice and well-suited to people that have gone through the Scouting program, but it somehow feels like these kids are being used as a breeding ground for more law enforcement agents. There are all kinds of other activities that the skills from Boy Scouts can be very useful, including leadership and survival skills, as well as the ability to cooperate with other people for common goals. These are abilities that lend themselves to a wide variety of jobs, not just law enforcement or military.

I guess I’d just like to see a bit more variety. And the idea of having 14-year-old kids learning to take down someone crossing into the United States illegally seems a bit excessive.