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January 27, 2009

Drugs and advancements

In Thomas Fuller's article, "Spread of Malaria Feared as Drug Loses Potency" it tells how the best new drug for Malaria is showing signs of resistance. I am sad to hear that people in those areas have to undergo the suffering of Malaria and the treatments to keep the advances turning. The people endure such hardships and are dealt such cold cards and yet scientists are still discoving and making advancements. Having gone from one drug to another doesn't tell me that drugs are coming to their end and that the parasitic protozoan is going to win overall. History tells us that we will always try to overcome diseases, cancers, and other unfavorable factors. The good thing is that we have scientists who are curious, who want to use their brains and technology to learn as much as we can about these roadblocks, to find a way to get around them, or to get rid of them. Living at the low end of the poverty level doesn't help with the struggle to live a healthier life for the people of Cambodia. I know that having a nutritious and healthy diet, as well as a regular exercise routine, increases a person's chance for living a hardy life. But, that is certainly not what every person will get. Coming from a Native American reservation, I have seen many people sick. Growing up, I was apart of the lower class. I remember times when my younger brother and I were so very hungry and my mother would have us share a meal, only to watch us eat it. It seemed like it was all around me. The good thing about being Native American would be the healthcare right? No, not even close. If a person was to get sick and go to the hospital, there was always at least a 6 hour wait. The very least. I remember spending nights in the hospital waiting rooms, on the floor. People could be bleeding and have to wait, just as long as you weren't dying from it. But, I was thankful for the medicine and drugs I received. Of my family and friends cases, I have seen illnesses healed. Of the few that weren't quite cured, they were happy. They could still be suffering, but they were alive and with family. I embrace new advances and hope not too many people will look at the down side of having a drug slowly make its way towards being useless. Like Thomas Fuller says, "It took decades for this resistance to spread across the world, so by the same token artemisinin-based drugs are almost sure to be useful for many years to come." I hope we can look at how the drugs helped many people and how the increasing knowledge of all diseases are helping people everywhere, even those who don't have the means to live a healthy and physically fit life.

What if we have the same Youtube 400 years from now?

Markoff's article.

That was a very interesting article and it got me thinking about so many things. The first was music. Every "100 greatest guitarists/singers/bands/singles/etc..." list that has been compiled by Rolling Stone or any other music magazine has featured musicians from the past 100 years at most. Guys like Jimi Hendrix and Robert Johnson died decades ago, but their music lives on! Their image lives one! If I want to listen to a Hendrix song exactly as it was played when he played it in the studio, I have it on my ipod. If I want to watch 10 different live performances of "Hey Joe" or "Machine Gun," I can hop on Youtube. It's almost like they're still alive. Imagine if we had videos and original recordings of Mozart, Paganini, Debussy, Bach and every other musical genius that ever existed. Imagine if we could see some amateur video of Galileo dropping the two weights from the leaning tower of Pisa. That's going to be the world a thousand years from now. If someone in the year 3009 wants to hear something by the Jonas Brothers (though I'm not sure why they would) they can hop on Youtube and see how they were. There will no longer be any mystery. You won't have to ever again ask yourself, "I wonder what they were really like." It will all be recorded. It will all be instantly accessible for anyone to see anything from any point in history (starting now).

Of course the article talks about preserving historical events that could be altered to influence future opinions, but what about Facebook! Think of all the ridiculous profiles there are on facebook and myspace. Those profiles dig into people's souls. What if our great-great-great grandchildren get bored one day and say to each other, "I'm bored. You wanna see great gramma's facebook page when she was 17." Nothing will be hidden ever again!

Teenage Promiscuity is Still Rampant

The title of an article makes a big difference. The title of this blog post is kind of gloomy and depressing, but it wouldn't deviate from the numbers that Tara Parker-Pope presented in her happy, optimistic article.

All I could focus on while reading this article was how everything was presented. There was this 'we're getting better...things aren't that bad' kind of tone throughout the whole article as the statistics were being presented. One line said "Today, fewer than half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007." However, I read it as "Nearly half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007." It's the same number, but presented in a gloomy (and to me, realistic) way. The article could be titled "Teenage Promiscuity is Still an Issue." All the same stats could be given, but if they were given alongside negative reactions instead of positive ones the article would be read with the opposite feeling. I can keep on doing it.

"Parents are shocked to learn that nearly 1 out of 7 girls aged 14 and below have had sexual intercourse."
"Sadly, 1 out of 3 girls aged 15 to 17 have had sex. The statistic is the same for boys of that same age."

Same numbers as in the article. Different presentation. I'm not sure what the author's real intent with this article is. She aims to show that the numbers are lower than from some decades ago and with that maybe give a sigh of relief to parents of teenagers everywhere? The lesser of two evils? Sure, it's a trend in the right direction, but Pope never really lets us know that the numbers are still outrageously high.

The Age of Teenage Promiscuity?

I have found the article by Tara Parker-Pope interesting. All the talk about how teenagers sexual behavior has gone up, captured my attention because I am a parent of a five year old and I read about things that will one day involve him. I am not too sure about how much education in the schools informs kids about sex and protected sex. But, what I think is that parents don't talk to their kids about what will happen or is happening. I talk to my son about his future and the choices he may come across. I was a sigle parent and he has been with me since day one. I informed him that a man and a women make babies but, they do not have to be married. So, why do they have babies when they're not married was the next question. My answer was because they did not know better and didn't know what the consequences would be. We recently watched the movie, "Snow Dogs". In that movie, Cuba Gooding Jr. finds out that he has adoptive parents and that he has biological parents. Believe me there were many questions that came with that movie. I did not have all the answers but I gave to the best of my ability. I did say that I love him and he has many people who also love him. Believe me, I really tried to be honest without putting any people down. So, reading this article made me think of my future with my son and how I can inform him about society and what decisions will change his life. I hope one day that I am able to talk to him about issues on teenage relationships and hopefully he will not find himself in a difficult position like I did.

America and Technology

Dennis Overbye’s article shows the typical American view of technology. For a class I was in earlier we looked at oil and the US dependency on it, through the various “lens? of geography. The Obama quote in the second paragraph, “vowing to harness the sun, the wind and the soil, and to “wield technology’s wonders,? touches on this oil related subject. One reading we had showed the difference between American and European views on energy and how to fix the American dependency on oil. Overbye and Obama go along with the exact view that David Nye in “Path Insistence: Comparing European and American Attitudes Toward Energy? discussed for the American view on the oil problem. That technology will fix all of our problems so why should we have accountability for our actions. Thus avoiding the deeper cultural reason to why the foreign oil dependency problem exists in the first place. The European view is the opposite, that technology has its uses, but is not the answer in the case of the oil dependency problem. The American lifestyle has to change fundamentally or the oil dependency will be replaced with another fuel discovered from research during our current oil crisis. The Obama message of change is not solving the fuel crisis, it is prolonging it and keeping us on the fuel dependency cycle. Leaving us exactly where we were in the first place.

Nye, David E. "Path Insistence: Comparing European and American Attitudes Toward Energy." Journal of International Affairs 53 (1999): 129-48.

Where do we go from here?

After reading the article on Malaria I realized how present-tense people are. After people began realizing that Malaria had started to become resistant to the once reliable medicine, Artemisinin, they began trying to find an answer to the problem. Even though scientists have done amazing things through science and the use of technology, people are still trying to keep up with problems of the present, without being able to focus entirely on the mysteries of the future. When something works it seems like everyone lets out a sigh of relief until the problem is back, and when it comes back it comes back with a vengeance. Advancements and focus of technology/science seem to be, then, dictated by relevant problems and issues of the present. Yet, this unfortunate aspect of technology/science allows people to have an unlimited opportunity to advance and discover because there is always going to be problems that need fixing. Thus, I disagree with the article, "Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy," when it states that science destroys magic and mystery. Science and technology, thus far, have indeed led to many discoveries and answered questions, but new problems have arisen to replace the solved ones, and so people will never run out of questions that need hard-work to answer. We continue to surprise ourselves with our ability to solve problems and the ways we do it, and so no matter how far we advance in science/technology, we will always be able to surprise ourselves with the "magic" of the universe...sorry for the corny ending.

Overbye - He's half right.

After lots of jumping around, Overbye eventually states that Science and Democracy are twins. He says, "If we are not practicing good science, we are not practicing democracy; and vice versa." After he gives some examples of communist China doing communist things, he prophesies that it is because of China's lack of a democracy that it will probably have a lack of scientific progress too. I can't disagree with him here because I also believe that any country that allows viewpoints initially deemed to be wrong will, at some point, find out that one of those wrong viewpoints is actually right. We learned the earth is round, the earth revolves around the sun, and heavier objects don't fall faster than light objects. If conflicting viewpoints were never permitted, we couldn't progress.

However, it's the contrapositive of his argument that I can't follow. Good science makes good democracy? The path to science is what gives people truth and values? Not true. One can't believe in truth unless one believes in a single truth applicable to everyone. Saying that mankind's gradual increase in knowledge is what makes him more moral is completely self-centered and atheistic. Are we smarter than 3rd World African's because we have i-pods and they don't? Morals are innate from birth and science has never had anything to do with how moral someone is. Democracy is composed of individuals, so it's the individual's collective morals that define a democracy.

Malaria Eradication: Possible or not?

Fuller's article on malaria was quite appealing. Malaria is a widespread epidemic in many parts of the world - that is a sure fact. Science and technology are becoming so advanced that more and more drugs are created to combat the resistance noted with other drugs already being used to fight off the disease. The problem is with the long term effectiveness and also in whether or not malaria will ever be eradicated. If researchers keep coming up with new drugs, there has to be some sort of limitation on how many can actually be created. What will happen when they can't come up with anything else to combat this disease - especially if it hasn't been eliminated from society? The real problem lies in how and when these drugs are being administered. It is common knowledge that some doctors will prescribe medications just so their patients quit complaining - whether it be something for a cold or flu that really will not help the patient at all but they just want them to stop returning to the clinic for something that can't be helped. More and more doctors have stopped doing that very thing because they know resistance to drugs is becoming an issue, but there are still some that practice that method of prescribing. It's going to be a huge issue when no more drugs are becoming available because every single one that was created is ineffective against malaria, meaning it will have full reign of people to affect. Malaria cannot be eradicated unless some kind of measures are taken to prevent resistance to the new drugs on the market. If proper procedures are formed and malaria stays non-resistant to the drugs for a longer period of time, then maybe it can be wiped out of the affected parts of the world.

How Many CDs Do You Have?

Technology has been rapidly changing throughout our lives, at such a pace that it appears to be too fast for ourselves. When I attended elementary school, I used a Sony Walkman cassette player to listen to music, an object so valuable at that time and everyone wanted to listen to what you were playing. I loved the Backstreet Boys so much that I ended up wearing it out and it was not even audible anymore. As middle school turned around, CD players broke out and everyone desired to have one. Moreover, I found it so miraculous that CDs would never wear out like cassettes did. Finally, we are now using MP3s and iPods to store what would be fifty or more CDs onto one hard drive. Video games and cell phones have advanced significantly too. I remember playing my Pac Man game on the first black and white screen Game Boy that was the size of a brick (and it wouldn’t even fit in my pocket!). I don’t even think cell phones should be considered a phone anymore. They contain a camera, video camera, MP3, calendar, internet, and so many other features. Soon, they will probably be able to read the temperature outside or even print out documents from the web. By reading John Markoff’s article, it has sparked many ideas pertaining to how technology has advanced and what are its conflicts. He mentioned about creating documents and artifacts that will be able to be stored in such a format that any future software and computers will be able to read it hundreds of years from now. I have already come across this complication with my own computer. Recently, I found old the old Mac screen saver software, After Dark, just to bring back the old memories! Characters like Boris the cat and the flying toasters were a few of the many options to choose from. Then disaster struck. My Mac gave me an error that said, “This application is from the Classic Environment and can not be run.? Frustration flew in as I wondered why programmers didn't consider or find a way to allow new software to run old programs. It correlates with the topic given in Markoff’s article, and as technology shifts, hopefully our archived memories will be accessible as long as we live.

Malaria and Technology: Two of the Same?

Malaria has obviously been a very problematic disease throughout history, and especially today in parts of Africa. Fuller's article on the feared spread of deadliest form of malaria after researchers found that the disease is already starting to show signs of resistance to the best and newest drug against it was eye-opening to say the least. In recent years this drug, which involves combination treatments using artemisinin, has been the biggest hope for finally eradicating the disease from Africa, where, according to Fuller, malaria kills more than 2,000 children each day. The evidence that the disease is starting to form a resistance to the drug is degrading to both the scientists that have worked on the drug and the people that could use it to be cured, but I think it also raises the question; Is this the path that technology is taking? Again, according to Fuller's article drug-resistant strains of malaria have appeared to start to evolve as far back as the 1950s, and over time new strains have continuously evolved to become resistant to new drugs created by new technology in the scientific field. Like the strains of malaria, I think that technology too will continue to evolve to keep the disease under control, or any other problem facing society for that matter. They key, though, is to keep moving forward with newer and better technology to not allow the problems that face us overtake the technology produced to keep it under control.

the real threat to data

The article about the verification And preservation of digital records describes a problem that Could become a serious issue. What the article is saying is true but I believe that It missed a serious point when discussing the type of software we use. Competing data formats and organizations that want to alter history are indeed troubling but the enormous amount of closed source software in use today is a more serious threat. Most software companies will not tell anyone outside their own employees how they encode and store information. This will lead to issues many years from now when people are attempting to decode Microsoft Word documents or other information encoded in a proprietary format. If the organization that created a particular format is even around there may be copyright claims over or incomplete documentation of the data format. This could also lead to loss or alteration of information such as those described in the article. In response to these risks provided by closed source software, many people use and contribute to open-source software. With open source software users are actually able to analyze and freely distribute the specifications and implementations of the data format. This ensures that the data it encodes is retrievable even after the company or people responsible for its creation are long gone.

Is it possible for science to rob the universe of its mysteries?

Dennis Overbye’s article states that science “undermines the values we have, devaluing anything it can’t measure [by] reducing sunsets to wavelengths and romance to jiggly hormones.? And as a result science destroys our myths and continues to rob the universe of its so called magical mysteries. However, it’s true that science undermines the values we have to the extent of devaluing our moral values such as in the case of religion versus the Big Bang Theory, but it certainly does not rob the universe of its magic and mystery. Nevertheless, science could actually expand it. Part of what fuels science to begin with is evidence that destroys these myths and challenges them. Part of our moral values as a human being is always being intellectually curious at the way things work and why they happen. When a myth is destroyed or challenged another mystery is evolving. Is it a matter of life and death in order for us to figure out how the universe started? Not necessarily, but to feed our moral and intellectual curiosity it might be too many. In fact science that solves one mystery can open doors giving reasoning and explanations as to why other things are the way they are in another mystery or open doors by creating a new mystery. In other words if A + B causes (=) C, then C could also cause (=) D + F. Therefore, this just becomes a problem of simple substitution and in some cases could be known as essentially a continuous process. So in other words, from this simple mathematical standpoint it appears as though the universe is on a continuum. The universe is robbed a few things but yet the local surroundings counteracts with it. It’s essentially what chemists call the Second Law of Thermodynamics, where “the second law is an expression of the fact that over time …differences in temperature, pressure, and density tend to even out in a physical system that is isolated from the outside world.? (1) Overall, the laws of thermodynamics conclude that through these acts of opposition between the universe, the local system, and its surroundings, that the universe is always expanding. Thus, the universe may be continuously robbed but its mysteries will continue to remain as time progresses.


Science Destroying Magic and Mystery?

I found the article “Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy? very interesting. I agree with the article where it states that science teaches values. I think that science gives people the information to back up their morals and values. For example gene therapy is a controversial topic. Having more knowledge in science may change a persons opinion on the topic, or give them the information to back up their opinion on the subject. I agree with the Warnock article about the ethical regulation of science. People should be educated and have an understanding of science so they can appreciate its potential for good.
I disagree with the comment that “science destroys myths and robs the universe of its magic and mystery?. I personally find learning about science fascinating. I love learning about wavelengths, the physiology of the human body, or how cells divide in mitosis and meiosis. My favorite classes that I have taken in college are anatomy and biology. These classes did not destroy the magic and mystery, but gave me a better understanding of the world around me.
Lastly, I think that scientists will be in the position of being expected to save the world. Scientists have literally saved the world through antibiotics, medical advances, etc. However, as new issues arise they will be expected to find solutions for them. For example, artemisinin-based drugs for treating Malaria are becoming less effective. Scientists will be responsible for finding another treatment for Malaria, since this disease is killing so many people. Also antibiotics will become less effective over time, as bacteria becomes immune to them. Scientists will eventually need to find another treatment.

Are Drugs Really Helping?!

This past semester I took Microbiology. This class helped me put the human population’s health into perspective. I realized how quickly bacteria can replicate and become resident to drugs. Microbiologist have modified penicillin’s chemical structure many times to keep up with the ever changing bacteria that seem to always have the lead. Even though nuclear war and global warming are huge concerns to the safety of the human population, the fight against bacteria is a problem many people seem to over look. Without our health, everything else is lost. I feel people eat poorly, don’t exercise, and smoke because they figure doctors can cure everything or will one day be able to. Having this attitude is not helping. The further doctors prescribe medicine, the more bacteria have the chance to be exposed to the drug. When we eat junk food containing preservatives or an unbalanced diet our bodies don’t know how or have the materials to react. The energy used for these foreign items are preventing our body’s immune system to keep us healthy.
In Tomas Fuller’s article, “Spread of Malaria Feared as Drug Loses Potency,? he is concerned with the same issue. The parasite causing malaria is showing signs of resistance to the artemisinin- based drug, which at this point is malarias last hope. Tasanh, Cambodia is a poverty stricken country where most people are probably not receiving their nutritional needs. This problem is a huge contributor to why malaria is sweeping the nation. I am a firm believer that taking care of your body and not running to the doctor for an antibiotic every time you feel sick, will help stop this growing concern. I am not saying doctors are bad because they do save lives. I give them great respect for their contributions to medicine and the safety they provide to our human population. As a whole we have to be aware of our actions and take in consideration the problem at hand. Bacteria and viruses have the potential to cause devastating outcomes that no one will be able to stop.

January 7, 2009

Welcome to the Blog for Writ 1152W

Hi Everyone! Welcome aboard. This blog will be part of the online portion of our class, and we will use it to share ideas and drafts, respond to readings, and interact with each other to build community. Please take a few minutes to become comfortable with the site, bookmark it, and add its feed to your RSS reader. Don't know what an RSS reader is? Watch RSS In Plain English. Don't know what a blog is? Watch Blogs in Plain English.

The blog assignment is part of the syllabus which you can find at the course site.

A couple of suggestions as we get into the blog:

1. The blog is public. Anything you write here can be read by anyone else: family members, employers, significant others, etc. Therefore, please stay on task. Use the assignment for guidelines, do not flame each other, and treat this as a professional, public space where anyone can see what you've written.

2. This space is a formal part of the course, a space for engagement with issues generally, and a place to build relationships. When commenting on each others posts, please be on topic and don't flame.

3. You all have the power to create categories. Please add a descriptive category to your each of your posts by choosing it from the list. Create new ones as necessary, but use this power wisely. If your post fits in a pre-existing category, please use that one.

4. Have fun and be creative. Your effort and participation here will make this site work.

Happy posting!

January 6, 2009

How to Post

If you're new to UThink, here's a simple description to get you up and blogging. If you have questions, look through the help here. Good luck!