Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Urban Dictionary

Have you ever really thought about Urban Dictionary? its like the mainstream place to put people down or take out your frustration in a situation. Its actually pretty funny. Try it, go to right now and look up something, a name, a place, or just browse through for something in the index. its hilarious. People are just trying to "say something" but really its just saying- "this person made me really mad, so im going to make a definition about them." Now back to the significance of this finding.
I was thinking about this little bit of insight I had, but I wasn't planning on blogging on it, I mean its not really that noteworthy, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it kind of represents something larger. Everyone always talks about how the internet gives people so many more opportunities to be someone else, you know be bolder online than offline. I mean, we've heard it all, cyber-bullying, online predators, spam mail, the internet has opened up a whole new world, not only for good, but for bad. Now, I'm not saying anything against UrbanDictionary, I love UrbanDictionary. Its hillarious. Its the perfect place for inside jokes and even to look up crazy slang terms you've never heard of that aren't in the real dictionary, or that they don't have the meaning you know the speaker was trying to convey. Basically, UrbanDictionary rocks. Buuuuttt..... I think its important to point out to people, that although UrbanDictionary can't let you directly hurt others, Its just another reminder of all that we are capable of, good or bad.

So, here's my plug-of-the day: don't let a silly, bitter situation make you do something you would regret online. When you really think about it, it doesnt matter where you do it, online or off, you could be hurting someone or just letting your frustration come out in other ways, in any case, try to keep it nice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

To This...

This is the final draft of that Essay I posted earlier and I would like to think that its pretty good if I do say so myself.

Stem cells are a key component in the medical world these days. Many researchers believe that stem cells will be the most important factor in curing diseases within the next few decades. There are many different types of stem cells. One of the most common that most people know of would be embryonic stem cells. These are cells taken from a human embryo, and have the potential to form any sort of cell, such as a blood cell, a skin cell, or even a liver cell. Another type of cell would be an adult stem cell. These are cells that already have a function, like a skin cell, and can become more of the same cell. The last kind of stem cell would be a semi-pluripotent stem cell. These are cells taken from any place, usually from bone marrow, and they can be reverted to their original stem cell state and can then become any sort of cell (Saturday Evening Post 2010). Most researchers agree that there is the most use for semi-pluripotent stem cells because they are the easiest and cheapest to harvest as well as the least controversial.

Although many researchers believe that embryonic stem cells might have the best chance of becoming cures because they are more elastic, meaning they can be adjusted and manipulated with a better chance of not breaking, they also agree they could cause the most potential damage in other ways. For example, many people believe that embryonic stem cells could cause an exploitation of women, especially women in third world countries. In order to use stem cells you need a “second party” stem cell. It has to come from another source without the “disease” you have. This could cause people to “order” stem cells from another person, and could potentially lead women to be exploited for their eggs. Other risks concerning embryonic stem cells is that in order to harvest cells from a donor, they must be given hormones that cause them to produce a larger amount of eggs, this can also cause potentially dangerous side effects, and on occasion, fatal ones. A United Kingdom newspaper called “The Observer” wrote an article called The Cruel Cost of the Human Egg Trade which investigated occasions where women from Great Britain and even the US would travel to clinics in Russia or Ukraine to get eggs. In this particular case the eggs are used for infertile women to get pregnant, but many sociologists are concerned embryonic stem cells will only fluctuate this growing “egg trade”. You see, in the UK there are rules and regulations for donating eggs, regulations concerning the amount of hormones given to any one woman, and there can’t be any sort of monetary compensation for the eggs either. This can make human eggs few and far between causing them to be expensive and the waiting list to be about two years long. Because of this, many women travel to other countries to have cheaper and much more abundant eggs implanted, so there are no importation infringements and everybody’s happy right? Well maybe not. The women in Ukraine and Russia have the unique opportunity to be egg donors for heartbreaking reasons: they are white and poor. Most people agree these are not the best reasons to base a trade on. Most of these women are living on less than $15 dollars a month and are in desperate need of money. The clinics however often exploit these circumstances paying them based on the health of their eggs and how many they can produce, if they turn out to be a good donor, they get a bonus. Among the many problems with these circumstances is that the women are given no psychological compensation. Many of these women suffer from great psychological distress, they feel that they have given part of themselves away and are never given any mental support because of it (The Observer 2006).

Other common discredits for embryonic stem cells is simply the human risk of having your ovaries stimulated so you produce extra eggs. If you are given too much follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, it can cause ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS). This can lead to dangerous, even fatal side effects.

Besides obvious physical side effects another problem with embryonic stem cells is that they cause such a debate over the ethics of them that many people think it’s just not worth it. In 2001 president Bush limited funding on stem cell research saying “While we must devote enormous energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human embryo stem cell research. Even the most noble ends do not justify any means” (Bush 2001). Because of this, embryonic stem cell research has been slow over the last few years, causing an increase in research on semi-pluripotent stem cells. Because of this, many researchers are beginning to have new appreciation for the benefits of semi-pluripotent stem cells and are losing some of their interest in embryonic stem cells. Although President Obama has lifted those funding limits, semi-pluripotent stem cells have remained in the forefront of stem cell research and researchers have surprisingly found some advantages. Not only are ethical concerns raised concerning embryonic stem cells because it destroys the embryo, but because one of the most common places to get embryonic cells is from aborted fetus’. This causes many people to be concerned with embryonic stem cells because they believe it will lead to more abortions as people might like to make money off of their aborted fetus’ and perhaps more of a political and scientific push to make abortion legal so stem cell clinics can get the cells legally.

For one thing, semi-pluripotent stem cells are cheaper than embryonic ones, because it cuts out the hormone injection process, then the actual removal of the eggs from the woman’s oavaries, whereas with semi-pluripotent stem cells, although they still must harvest the cells it is cheaper and easier to simply remove them from bone marrow the same way donors donate bone marrow for leukemia patients.

Although people may say that embryonic stem cells have more potential or we have more success cases with embryonic stem cells, they need to remember that semi-pluripotent stem cells have not been researched as long as embryonic stem cells. Really they were not even considered for a while until funding on embryonic cells was cut. Semi-pluripotent stem cells have their fair share of success cases too. In one study done by Northwestern University, a 52 year old woman with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that attacks you joints and is considered incurable, was injected with semi-pluripotent stem cells from her sister’s bone marrow into her own bone marrow and within a year was cured of her rheumatoid arthritis and was off all medications. She went through all of this with only minor complications (Arthritis & Rheumatism 2004).

Many people agree that embryonic stem cells may have some of their own advantages, but come along with their fair share of disadvantages as well. They can cause controversy, disease and even death. They induce and exploit the human body and fuel fires of debate many would rather do without. Although every person is entitled to their own opinion, I hope that many would agree that embryonic stem cells have their purpose, but one of them may not be to cure diseases however great that sounds. There are better and safer alternatives, alternatives I hope we continue to look into further.

From This...

Here's an essay I started to work on. This is the first draft (and yes I know its absolutely terrible and not very persuasive at ALL).

Stem cells are a key component to what will be the future, our future, of medicine. Often times we overlook the options they offer us in terms of a cure, but more and more often people are finding that their doctors may suggest Stem Cells (if only for a clinical trial). Although stem cells show a lot of promise they also hold their fair share of controversy. One of the most common would be the fact that many people believe that embryonic stem cells (cells taken from human embryos) are unethical, even murder because they destroy the embryo. On the other hand many people do not believe that it's unethical because the embryo is simply a cell without a brain or even nerves. Stem cell research suggests that embryonic stem cells have the best potential to be a cure althouh semi-pluripotent adult stem cells are also proving to be usefull and might be just as useful as ebryonic cells and also much easier to harvest as well as having much less controversy.
There are a few things that cause people to think negatively towards stem cells. One of the largest being religion, many believe that it is murder. With all the differing opinions on this topic its hard to decide which is the correct one. Not only does the conflict cause so many uproars in the religious community but in the political as well. Stem cells offer such a large possibility for medical research that could help so many people and treat thousands of diseases that the government is obviously interested in providing financial support. However because of the many differing oppinions and possible religious controversy it is difficult for them to make a decission.
Before you can make a decision on whether or not embryonic stem cells are ethical or not its important to understand how stem cells work. Stem cells are cells that don't have a specific purpose yet. When an embryo is formed it is made up of cells that can continuously divide until they form specific cells like a liver cell, then some skin cells, etc until a whole person is formed. These are embryonic cells, they are harvested directly from the embryo, the ethical drawback of this is that it destroys the embryo, however they can become any sort of cell. Adult stem cells are stem cells that are taken from any cell, like a skin cell, meaning they are much easier to harvest and have no controversy. The drawback with these is that they can't become anything, they can only become new skin cells. This is where semi-pluripotent adult stem cells come in. They are cells taken from any sort of cell, like a skin cell, but they can be reversed to their stem cell state, allowing them to become any sort of cell and they also don't harm anything. There is little research on them and they still have a long ways to go before they are ready to be used in a medical setting. In clinical trails they have been shown to work quite effectively. In one case in a 52 year old woman in a Northwestern University study she was cured of her Rheumatoid Arthritis when donated stem cells from her sister were injected into her bone marrow. The stem cells soon replaced her old cells that were producing rheumatoid arthritis blood cells and began to create healthy ones. After a year and a half she was off all of her old medication and was living a perfectly healthy normal life.
Embryonic stem cells can also be used for various uses and show great promise because they are so young and elastic. Some researchers believe that embryonic stem cells are better than even semi-pluripotent cells because they are younger, often times because semi-pluripotent cells are older they can become brittle after being manipulated so much. They also have much more possibilities because they have had extended research time where as semi-pluripotent cells are much newer and have had less time to be researched. For a brief time during president Bush's term in office he placed a limit on embryonic stem cell research on only new stem cell lines but continued it for already existing lines because he believed embryonic stem cells were unethical. Recently though, president Obama has lifted those funding limits.
Another facet to the stem cell debate is expenses. Depending on the kind of stem cell they can cause different expenses. Although the actual research financing is similar it costs various amounts of money, for example an embryonic stem cell requires that you have to remove the embryo and then extract the cells while removing a skin cell for an adult cell is quite simple. Then to make a semi-pluripotent stem cell it can cost more to return the adult cell to its stem cell state. Embryonic stem cells though have by far the highest cost, not only monetary but in health risks as well. In order to treat a disease that requires an embryonic stem cell you need to harvest an egg from a woman. In order to glean enough eggs from a woman she would need to undergo superovulation treatments that not only cost a lot of many but also put the woman at risk. It would cost a lot of money for the eggs and could potentially lead to poorer women being taken advantage of to harvest their eggs. This is only some of the costs incurred with in vitro fertilization. The other method for getting stem cells is from aborted fetus' which just adds a whole other ethical dimension to the problem.
As far as funding the research on embryonic stem cells it is not the private industries it is actually the government who is the major provider for it. Private industries have been mostly supporting adult stem cell research because it is cheaper, and has fewer risks and involves less people who could be possible harmed. This means that taxpayers are left supporting the bill for federally funded embryonic stem cell research when it might not even be that great of a research option.
This leaves us with the three types of sources that could potentially be used to get stem cells: embryos, bone marrow cells, and umbilical cord cells. The bone marrow cells are where the adult stem cells are most commonly taken from, and the cord cells are some what of a cross between the two. The drawback of adult stem cells taken from bone marrow is that there is a slight risk to the donor during the bone marrow removal process and there is a chance of diseases being transfered from donor to recipient, as well as there is the possibility that they might not be able to become any sort of tissue. Cord cells have proved to be quite elastic and have proven to become many types of tissue and there is hope that they will be able to become any sort of cell. They are also simple to harvest and there is no danger to the donor and there have been few cases of diseases being transfered. Out of the clinical trials with cord blood, there is a seventy percent survival rate among adult patients. The results on children are even better, more than eighty percent of child patients have been successfully treated with cord cells.
Overall, the scientific and moral research all seem to point to the fact that, while the ethical dilemma presented by embryonic stem cells may be based purely on opinion, the scientific and cost efficiency of using other sources other than embryos seems to be the most practical step forward. Embryonic stem cells cause an uproar in the religious community among others as well simply because there is no way to be sure that it is ethical to harm an embryo. Cord blood has proven to be an effective and ethical, as well as financially feasible source for stem cells and should be encouraged to expand its research in the future.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Google VOICE ?

Google- the information highway- it has even become a verb: to search for something on the Google search engine (and yes that was from a dictionary). It is used for everything. I bet half of you don’t even know how much you use Google. You like YouTube? That’s owned by Google. Do you have e-mail? I bet it’s gmail (owned by Google). And think of all the nifty things Google has that you don’t use like notebook, or Google health- even this blog is owned by Google. So basically what I'm trying to say is that everything is owned by Google. However, it has all come into a new world with Google's next little invention- GOOGLE VOICE. Basically, Google voice is tight. It takes phones to a whole new level. It’s free, here’s what you do: you sign up; Google gives you a "Google number". This is a phone number you can use through Google. Then to that number you put all your phone numbers in that account. Then when contacts from certain groups call you have certain phones ring, or all your phones. So if your friend calls it just goes to your cell. If you mom calls it goes to your home, cell, and work phone. If you boss calls it just goes to your work phone, and if its that really annoying cousin it just goes straight to your voicemail- because oh yeah, you check that online now from all your phones instead of checking each one individually. You also have the option of having them all converted to text so you just read them, or have them sent to your email so you know you get them. I know this is all pretty cool, almost too much to take (or believe for that matter) so here's a link you can check out for yourself.

Just a little disclaimer- don't say I didn't warn in you in 2020 or whatever that Google is going to take over the world, they control everything, everything that we see and hear and now even our phones. But hey, sometimes you just have to take a risk :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

IPads, kindles, nooks and other confusing objects

The new phase of electronic book reading has really begun to hit the market. It seems like every couple months some company comes out with some sort of new electronic book reader. Let me see If I can list them off:
The Kindle
The nook
The iPad
The SONY eReader

So kindles are like the original of eReaders, in fact they are really the most common one, if people say they have an eReader it is probably a Kindle. They are pretty cool. They have a simple user interface and can be used for long periods of time with a large clear screen display. They also have a really neat feature that most other eReaders don't have : their text to speech function which can turn some books into audio books.

Nooks are cool. They have a touch screen :) no really the nooks are pretty neat because they have the scroll through function that allows you to literally flip through you library based on its cover. To many die hard eBook readers seems frivolous, but to us cool techy people who just want to play with a new gadget, its pretty dang cool. Future versions might also come with 3G coverage plans which could be an advantage, or not- but at least you can choose.

Now for the true techy geeky person these are cool. Like really cool. They are like giant iTouches but more. I know, hard to believe. It can really do anything. Its like a mini laptop but all touch screen, and more portable. Of course it doesn't have a CD ROM drive, but its not supposed to, its an eReader isn't it? it is but it isn't. It was advertised as apples version of eReader, but it also has the capability to do so much more. A few drawbacks could be that it doesnt have flash, but hey, its apple. Also, future versions will require a contract with AT&T for $15 bucks a month for 3G coverage, but for some that could be a plus, no more searching for wi-fi hotspots. (However it would be nice to have a choice, unfortunately Apples not strong in the freedom of choice department).

SONY eReader
The SONY eReader is nice for cheapies. not a bad choice, it can do a lot of things, kind of the generic of eReaders. Unfortunately its not very compatible with mainstream companies, but it is cheaper than most and it has some pretty nice features and a lot of different models which is nice- you can pick regular size, touch screen, or pocket size. You can also pick a color, like silver black or pink.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Summer Lovin'

  • I love summer. Simple fact of life. Summer is the best part of the year. Here are some reasons I love summer:
1. Its warm/hot
2. Its sunny
3. There are a lot of thunderstorms
4. no school (I don't care if you're in college or not, people have more time in the summer in general)
5. people are happier in the summer
6. I can feel young and irresponsible (always a plus)
7. vacation
8. shorter nights
9. more things to do
10. always looking forward to the next snowfall in the holiday season

Now you'd think this would be enough to convince any person that summer is of course the best month but in case you're still in doubt let me help you settle that. There are some things you should know about summer. Either you love it or you hate it. I have never met anyone in the whole entire world who dislikes summer. Never. Not once, and probably not ever. Who could hate summer, I mean really. Think of all the fun things you can do in the summer, you can go on bike rides, and you can go to the swimming pool. You can have bon fires and you could even set up an outdoor movie theater. You can have picnics and build sand castles and no one can stop you from simply enjoying the outdoors.

Now I never really did think any one disliked summer, but I was thinking about all this earlier and I decided that it was so exciting that I just had to write about it. I'm so ready for summer, everyone just wants to have fun and summer is the best time of the year to do it!

summer lovin' had me a blast
summer lovin' happened so fast
I met a girl crazy for me
met a boy cute as can be

summer days driftin' away to - uh oh those summer nights


This week my family found a baby kitten in our yard, who knows were it came from but it was there and so dutifully we took it in. Unfourtunately it didnt last the weekend but while we were taking care of it I wish I would have had more information on how to take care of an infant kitten. They are very difficult because they have little abillity to do anything for themselves. Perhaps the biggest mistake we made was that they can not digest cows milk. When we first got him that was all we had so we were kind of forced to feed it what we had. The last day we had it I learned of this and began to feed it kitten formula but I think it was too late.
Another helpful bit of information would be how to keep it warm. I understood that we needed to help keep it warm but I wasnt exactly sure that they didnt generate any of there own body heat. What I found worked really well was a heating pad you placed under neat the kittens "bed" or whatever you keep him in and he should stay pretty warm.

So basically, heres what you should know if you are trying to raise an orphan kitten:

KEEP IT WARM!!! use a heating pad or a hot water bottle or something constantly warm that the kitten can snuggle on/with.

DON'T FEED IT COW MILK!!! cats cannot digest the lactose in cow milk so it is absolutely neccessary to get formula, like at wal-mart, although I've heard goat milk works well too.

If its meow-ing that means it probably needs something. When the kitten is satisfied it stays quiet and sleeps, like any other infant the perfect routine allows it to simply eat and sleep.

The kitten needs help to eliminate waste. Gross I know, but I wish I would have known this or maybe he wouldn't have died.