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    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    Where I've been the past week

    Mount Moran
    Originally uploaded by triet43.
    So it's been six days since blogging, all because I spent Memorial Day weekend up at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This picture shows Mount Moran behind Jackson Lake, taken from my back porch.

    Jackson Lake
    Originally uploaded by triet43.
    Saturday we hiked to the top of Signal Mountain. You can see the islands in Jackson Lake pretty clearly from the top.

    Our friend
    Originally uploaded by triet43.
    On the way down, I snapped this picture of one of the many moose in the area. We saw many moose and elk over the four days in Grand Teton National Park. Beautiful creatures, but better in the fall when they have antlers.

    Air Force 4
    Originally uploaded by triet43.
    Who would I be without some tie-in to politics. Vice President Dick Cheney owns land up by Jackson Hole, and retreats there often. It just so happened that I was at the airport a little after he flew in to spend Memorial day with the moose, and snapped this picture of his jet. One day I want to fly in that jet...

    Anyway, all in all it was a great four days, full of hiking, boating, catching a good movie in the evening, and spending many hours playing Uno with my wife's host family. If you have never been to Yellowstone or Grand Tetons National Park, I encourage you to go. It's beautiful and relaxing, and a great way to spend a three-day weekend.

    My home...

    Saw a post at Ron's site that ranked the best cities for him. Thought I'd try it out myself.

    Found Find your spot.com and went through a grueling 8 page application plus signing up for whatever they do, and got this list:
    1. Jacksonville, Florida
    2. Charleston, South Carolina
    3. Houston, Texas
    4. San Antonio, Texas
    5. Memphis, Tennessee
    6. Knoxville, Tennessee
    7. Orlando, Florida
    8. Austin, Texas
    9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    10. West Palm Beach, Florida
    11. Fort Worth, Texas
    12. Louisville, Kentucky
    13. Tampa, Florida
    14. El Paso, Texas
    15. Miami, Florida
    16. Nashville, Tennessee
    17. Dallas, Texas
    18. Birmingham, Alabama
    19. Bryan-College Station, Texas
    20. Gainesville, Florida
    21. Biloxi-Gulfport, Mississippi
    22. Tallahassee, Florida
    23. Jackson, Mississippi
    24. Athens, Georgia

    I bolded all the cities from the great state of TEXAS. Notice 7 out of the top 20 are from Texas, and the highest ranked, Houston (#3), happens to be my home town.

    Then I went to Zenhex.com, a much easier quiz, and got this result:

    Houston, TX
    You belong in Houston..........The Magnolia City. You would like a good beer and barbeque. Probably some country music too.

    I think this cements it. I need to go home...

    Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    more embryos

    Eugene Volokh has a good post on his blog about the economic and political ramifications about not embracing embryonic stem cell research. I think the best part about his post is not that however, but the tone he uses--belying what I think many American's opposed to embryonic stem cell research feel--that they don't understand the science but are opposed on a visceral sense. Mainly they're confused, it's a step into the dark, tackling something they've never had to delineate in their moral ethos before, and that's scary, no matter what the verdict is.


    for all of us that are just plain sick of hearing all the talk over judicial nominees, finally something is happening.

    Judge Owen was approved today, 56-43. Whether you agree with her or not, at least we're not hearing about filibusters anymore. Could anything have been more tedious (just like a true filibuster)?

    House passes bill

    Yesterday the house passed the embryonic stem cell bill, but President Bush is expected to veto it. This highlights my earlier comment that we won't see this legislation until 2007, maybe 2008. I think the American people overall are ready for it--the hinderance comes from strongly held moral beliefs that cloud judgement on the issue by distracting logical people from the facts.

    Most who I have talked to instinctively oppose using embryos for stem cell research. Then I ask about embryos from fertility clinics. Contrary to popular belief, they don't just dissappear. In fact, they will die. If a clinic makes 100 embryos for a couple, and 8 are used, resulting in 1 baby, than the body already spontaneously killed 7 embryos. But that's not the issue.

    The fact is that the clinic still has 92 embryos that are not wanted. They can be destroyed, or put in liquid nitrogen storage until 22 other couples come along wanting children (which is highly unlikely because they would make 100 embryos from that new couple's gametes), or used for research. Since most people forget that liquid nitrogen storage is not indefinite, and cells held that way lose viability over time and eventually die (albeit it takes a long time), essentially you can use the extra embryos for research or kill them.

    So, it follows, that if you oppose research because you destroy the embryo, then you should oppose fertility clinics in general because they facilitate destroying many more embryos than ever become human beings. If you don't oppose fertility clinics, then research is the logical step to gain the greatest good out of cast off fertility clinic biproducts.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    More Stem Cells

    In my last post and comments, I expressed my opinion on the current embryonic stem cell debate. My view stems from my religiously conservative upbringing and a healthy knowledge of genetics, molecular biology, and medicine. Granted, I may not be the world's foremost authority on the subject, but I do feel uniquely qualified to view the debate objectively because my background and education provide insight into both sides of the divide.

    So when I read the Wall Street Journal today, the editorial by Dr. David Shaywitz (you may need to register to read it) seemed particularly applicable.

    It is a great letter. The reason there is a debate is because there is
    remarkably modest congressional legislation, proposed by Republican Michael Castle and Democrat Diana DeGette and scheduled for a vote today, which would permit federal funds to be used on human embryonic stem cell lines derived after Aug. 9, 2001. Presently, only the few lines established prior to this date are eligible for government support, a prohibition that has had a crippling effect on research in this emerging field.
    The argument I've heard often is that
    The human embryo should be held as sacrosanct, and not used for the pursuit of any ends, regardless of how nobly intended.
    Therefore, Shaywitz argues that
    if human embryonic stem cell research is morally, fundamentally, wrong, then it should be wrong, period, regardless of the consequences to medical research. If conservatives believe their own rhetoric, they should vigorously critique embryonic stem cell research on its own grounds, and not rely upon an appeal to utilitarian principles.
    This is because most argue that cord stem cells serve the purpose of embryonic stem cells and embryos are not needed. I elucidated the shortage of cells that the research industry has (and is trying to address with this new legislation), and Dr. Shaywitz explains the logical argument I was thinking but didn't write yesterday:
    First, the science: Opponents of the Castle-DeGette legislation assert that embryonic stem cells are unnecessary because adult stem cells, as well as umbilical cord blood stem cells, will perform at least as well as embryonic stem cells, and have already demonstrated their therapeutic value. This argument appears very popular, and has been articulated by almost every member of Congress who has spoken out against the new stem cell bill.

    To be sure, one of the great successes of modern medicine has been the use of adult blood stem cells to treat patients with leukemia. The trouble is generalizing from this: There are very strong data suggesting that while blood stem cells are good at making new blood cells, they are not able to turn into other types of cells, such as pancreas or brain. The limited data purported to demonstrate the contrary are preliminary, inconclusive, unsubstantiated, or all three. Thus, it seems extremely unlikely that adult blood cells -- or blood cells from the umbilical cord -- will be therapeutically useful as a source of anything else but blood.

    Moreover, while stem cells seem to exist for some cell types in the body -- the blood and the intestines, for example -- many adult tissues, such as the pancreas, may not have stem cells at all. Thus, relying on adult stem cells to generate replacement insulin-producing cells for patients with diabetes is probably an exercise in futility.

    ... In the process, conservatives seem to have left their usual concern for junk science at the laboratory door, citing in their defense preliminary studies and questionable data that they would surely -- and appropriately -- have ridiculed were it not supporting their current point of view. In fact, there is little credible evidence to suggest adult stem cells have the same therapeutic potential as embryonic stem cells. Conservatives often speak of the need to abide by difficult principle; acknowledging the limitations of adult stem cell research would seem like a good place to start.
    Ultimately it comes down to my argument yesterday, and Dr. Shaywiz's today: If you oppose it on moral grounds, than it will always be wrong. Otherwise, scientific logic argues persuasively for it. We must find the balance between the conservative religious morals and the scientific progressivism.

    P.S. Here's a copy of the Castle-DeGette bill.

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Stem Cell Breakthrough

    Fox News reports that a group of South Korean scientists have found a way to create groups of stem cells genetically identical to a patient. This passes a major hurdle on the road to creating replacement tissue.

    The Korea Times does a good job of tooting their own horn, i.e. culling all the critical praise the doctor, Hwang Woo-suk, and his team have garnered from the scientific community. Understanding their take onthe results makes it worth reading.

    Of course, this all puts pressure on the US to step into the stem cell research arena. For years, South Korea has headed the fight, while America shuns stem cells due to fears of destroying embryos. The Foundation for Stem Cell Research led the fight in California (successful this past November) to pass proposition 71, an ordinance allocating $3 billion (that California doesn't really have...to the annoyance of school teachers) towards stem cell research that the federal government won't back. Basically it's a slap at Bush so he'll wake up and allow more research.

    I hope that soon the government will listen to the broader medical and scientific community. I personally don't have an moral or religious qualms about stem cell research. I think the body grows for a bit before the spirit enters it, and stem cells do not have the differentiated brain cells that could even possibly support cognitive thought. In this way you could look at the embryo as not yet a living organism, but more of an outgrowth from the mother. There are also reams of evidence on the benefits of stem cells, taken from umbilical cords or elsewhere, in treatments and research. I don't foresee President Bush doing anything about it soon. The USA is still very conservative on this issue. Maybe in 2007-8.

    P.S. Just found this related article at CNN.com

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Japanese Bar Codes

    Is this not one of the coolest things ever? The Japanese have invented a great way for people to learn about their environment, or whatever else, and they use two-dimensional scannable bar codes. Too bad America's always in the stoneage.

    Nuclear Option

    Does anybody else see the start of debate on the "Nuclear Option" in the Senate today as bad for everyone? Frankly, I'm totally sick of the whole thing.

    In my church, my wife and I happen to watch the children from 18 mo to 3 years while parents go to Sunday School. Typically, we and one other couple watch 12-18 little tots run around and try not to let any of them get killed. They're actually pretty cute (although our desire to have children of our own fluctuates with the stress of the given sunday).

    I bring this up because the behavior of our senators--on both sides of the debate--strikes me as the same act I saw last Sunday. This kid, Gavin, had a toy knight. He wanted to play with the knight and the castle. Another child, Emma, also wanted the knight. So now you have a dilemma--who gets the knight, and why? Emma tries to grab the knight from Gavin, he won't let go. Instead of playing with the castle, she pouts and tries to take the knight from him. Eventually, she gets it and sits on it so he couldn't get it back. I had to break up this two-year-old tussle, and explain to Emma that Gavin had the knight first, therefore he gets to play with it and the castle. She can find another figure to play with and the castle, or she can play with something else and wait for Gavin to stop playing with the knight. Being children, the grossly important knight was forgotten by both children in 15 minutes when we put away toys and had snacks.

    Here's the rub: We'll say

    1. Gavin is the Republicans
    2. Emma is the Democrats
    3. the knight is the judicial posts
    4. and of course, sitting on the knight represents a pretty effective filibuster

    Why are my country's senators acting like two-year-olds? Shouldn't they have matured in the fifty-plus years of life since they sat in a nursery class? Why doesn' the morals we teach our children, that I had to explain to Emma, work in the senate as well as nursery? And, if it took an outside authority figure whose presence denoted absolute morality (in this case) to break up the scuffle at church on sunday, what happens in the Senate? Is there an outside authority figure who has that power?

    The Democrats should concede defeat. Not because I necessarily agree with the judicial nominations, but because I think it would be best for the image of the party and the survival of the filibuster. As it goes now, the Republicans will force a senate procedural change and then get the up or down vote they've lobbied for. In the people I've talked to, surprisingly (or not so) they view the Democrats the same way most adults would have viewed Emma--not in the wrong for wanting the knight (judicial posts), but in the wrong for their use of filibuster (sitting on the toy) when they did not have to ability to effect positive change (Gavin had it first).

    The Democrats lost senate seats in the last election, although almost winning the white house. If they lose this fight, the Republicans will get their nominations approved, the Democrats will lose the ability to filibuster judges in the future (one of whom may be more deserving than those nominated now), and they will (do) look like the pouting Emma who loses the toy back to Gavin when they stall up all committees.

    The American people may have different party affiliations, but I wager most, if not all, put the country above the partisan fights when push comes to shove. The populace will see this fight for what it truly is--a squabble between two-year-olds over a toy--and effectively give the toy back to Gavin by allowing the Republicans to gain more seats in the 2006 elections.

    Democrats, for me (an independent), fellow democrats, rival republicans, and the good of the nation in general, let it go. Save your face for 2006, your filibuster for someone more worthy, and the populace from having to endure more puerile bickering.

    Besides, it'll be snack time in 15 minutes and then we'll all forget about it anyway.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    First Photo

    Bac Ngoc Qui Nguyen 30 Sept 2004
    Originally uploaded by triet43.
    This is the first in what I hope will be many photos to help flesh out my blog. The woman in the picture is a friend from Little Saigon. This particular photo is taken from a newspaper article discussing the Vietnamese vote during the 2004 presidential elections (I think the Bao Nguoi Viet). Thanks to MGO for the heads up on flickr.

    Alma Mater

    I was reading my old friend's blog at The Ron Urwongse Review and he mentioned a newly published alumni webpage. Great! Ron was in many classes with me and now works in D.C. He is a great guy, with many diverse interests.

    I went to Cypress Falls High School. So, if any of you readers also graduated from CFSH, sign up and see what's going on. For everyone else, you can see what a great HS I had. It really wasn't bad at all.

    For my "gee wiz" collection, a surprising amount of kids from Cy Falls play MLB now. Who woulda thunk?

    Friday, May 13, 2005


    Blogs are for everything. I'm actually quite surprised not to see a preponderance of Erogs here in the United States. They are extremely popular in Japan, which highlights the different morals in that country.

    Japan laws allow obscene amounts of blood and violence in videos--things that would never pass censors in America. Also, the pornography industry in Japan is the biggest in the world outside the United States. However, even with the pervasiveness of sex and violence in Japanese culture, hardcore pornography is blurred in the genital areas.

    Related to this culture is the emergence of a new use for blogs: Erotic blogs or Erogs. They are incredibly popular in Japan, which even hosts contests for the best run sites. On an erog, a person (usually a woman) discusses her feelings about sex, often with personal poetry, and erotic photos shot from her camera phone in various locations.

    Which leads me to wonder about the crime rate in Japan. In America, violence in media is often quoted by conservatives as the reason for such high crime rates in the U.S. In Japan, despite such wanton violence in movies, prevalence of violent crimes are much lower than here. Are sex crimes different? Does the ease of finding sexual material in Japan correlate to a high rate of sex crimes? Are sex crimes as defined in America even defined the same in Japan (as in age when sex with a minor becomes pedophilia)? Or, is crime truly a cultural manifestation that owes its presence in America today to the nature of people who settle here rather than the stuff on the internet, video, tv, or radio?

    I used to think media played a large role in our crime rate, but now I'm not so sure.


    I'm trying to figure out how to put pictures on my blog. Can anybody help?

    Heather's Back

    Today I went to lunch with my lab and Heather Blair, past lab manager and current graduate student at Colorado State University under Dr. Herbert Scweizer.

    "The Lab" had a great discussion on the merits of true music greatness, centered mostly on U2. Making hit music for more than 20 years, U2 is an example of innovation and its essential place in music lore. Many good bands role around, but only those that offer something new make money. However, even fewer survive more than a couple years--this survival stems from true innovation. A band that does not respond to the changing trends in music, but causes them in an effort to illuminate the foibles and intricacies of humanity becomes a true legendary band.

    Secondly, fame is nothing unless a tool for doing something. Bono is a tireless advocate of AIDS research and the fight against poverty. I wish more celebrities would follow in his footsteps and do something good with their money and prestige. There's definitely enough that could be done.

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Dave Chappelle in Psyche Facility

    This news broke last night about 1am--Dave Chappelle has been reportedly at a psyche facility in South Africa for the last couple weeks, explaining his mysterious disapearance and absence from the set of The Chappelle Show over the past couple weeks.

    Entertainment Weekly said
    Quoting an unnamed source "close to the situation," Entertainment Weekly said Wednesday that the comedian flew to South Africa late last month and voluntarily checked himself into the undisclosed facility. There is no word on the nature of his ailment or how long he will be hospitalized.

    ...The EW report trumps earlier speculation in the latest edition of Newsweek. Several unnamed friends of the entertainer posited different theories explaining his absence to the newsmag. One said Chappelle "freaked" and didn't know how to deal with the breakout success of Chappelle's Show, which has become a full-blown pop-culture phenomenon and led to Chappelle signing an unprecedented $50 million contract last summer. The deal came in the wake of the sketch comedy's record-setting first-season DVD sales.

    For those of us who found The Chappelle show hilarious, and care about other humans, I hope he conquers whatever ailment has forced him to seek treatment.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Sanity, Melioidosis, & Agent Orange

    After working from 10:30pm to 5pm the next day, and only getting 1 and a half hours of sleep, I've finally regained my sanity (if I ever had it). I have to say, that spank the booty site is pretty dumb, but I still like the spank the monkey (it plays that song if you get over 200 mph).

    Anyway, the reason for the long hours is that my PI (principle investigator), Dr. Richard Robison, is giving a lecture today at the University of Utah as part of their Distinguished Lecture Series:Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biodefense.

    Anyone who can make it, please come. It promises to be a very interesting discussion of meliodosis and the cytokine expression of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a tropical disease found in about 50% of all rice patties in Southeast Asia.

    For a recent article in Nature on melioidosis, click the link. You may need a subscription. For an example, one professor at BYU got melioidosis when traveling in Vietnam during the war, and it stayed latent until a couple years ago (the disease can strike within 48 hrs, but may stay latent for decades before causing pathogenesis). He checked into the hospital because he was going crazy. He saw bugs crawling all over the ER, but thought it was normal because the hospital wanted to "get back to nature." Finally he told the doctors about his condition when he got sick of the talking monkeys in his hospital room. Nobody could figure out what he had. He almost died when one day a tropical disease specialist happened to see his chart, diagnose melioidosis, and give him the proper medication. He lost the ability to talk and walk, and much of his memory, but now has rehabilitated and is back at BYU.

    One quote from the article says:
    That was when [Wipada] Chaowagul teamed up with Nick White, who now directs the Wellcome Trust's southeast Asia programme, but was then heading up its Bangkok unit. The trust, Britain's largest biomedical research charity, has a long-standing interest in tropical diseases, and so agreed to launch a clinical trial to test a newer antibiotic, called ceftazidime. It halved the death rate. ... But Chaowagul still loses more than 40% of her patients.

    ...Against this gloomy background, the NIAID's biodefence initiative has provided a beacon of hope. Burkholderia pseudomallei has not yet been used as a biological weapon, but its close relative, B. mallei, was used as a biological agent in the First World War. It causes glanders, a disease that kills horses and, more rarely, people. The bacterium was spread by German troops in an attempt to disable the Russian army's horses and mules.
    With all the justifiable focus on human rights and politics in Southeast Asia, we often forget that most people care more about their health than the government they live under. Diseases such as melioidosis devastate families and communities every year without even a blink of an eye from developed nations.

    Another article in the 7 April 2005 edition of Nature talks about Vietnam and Agent Orange. For those of you with interest into the still broiling debate over the past use and effects of Agent Orange, read it. This article is interesting because it documents the breakdown of study on the chemical. In the article it says,
    The United States used Agent Orange to reduce forest cover during the Vietnam War. But since the war's end in 1975, Vietnam has suffered a high number of birth defects — estimated to be 2−3 times the expected number in some areas — which it blames on the defoliant.

    The herbicides that made up Agent Orange were contaminated with dioxins, a highly toxic group of chemicals. But a lack of reliable epidemiological studies means that there is uncertainty over the suspected link between dioxins and birth defects. Such studies are difficult to do in part because a single test for dioxins costs US$1,400.

    The joint US−Vietnamese research project would have analysed dioxin levels in 300 mothers of babies with birth defects, along with 300 mothers of healthy children. The study was approved in May 2003 by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. But the institute pulled the plug on the project last month because, after two years, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health had still not approved the research protocols needed to begin the work.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    More fun games

    I think the brits have something with spanking...didn't dr. Spock teach them anything?? Anyway, if you can stomach the potty humor that is british humor, then go to Spank the Monkey or Spank the booty and see how fast you can spank. That's what got me to stay for more than a second. I hit the monkey 321 mph, and the booty 481 mph. I guess I'm just too competitive to pass on a challenge, even when it's something puerile like this.

    Or maybe it's the fact that it's 3:10am and I'm still at work...not expected to finish until 7:30am...no sleep...

    Cup of Noodles, anyone?

    Forget popcorn, cup-of-noodles is where it's at. For those of you looking for a quick laugh and some off the wall 10 minutes of relaxation, visit our lovable Brit cousins at Natural Noodling, and find out about the newest craze in Britain. Play the game and give yourself a well deserved break.

    Do better than me--I needed 11 tries before I made it through the week my first time.

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Do you like popcorn?

    Read in the Deseret News about scientists perfecting the popping of popcorn. I was truly impressed with the real life uses of physics. The popcorn kernal can be used as a miniature model for adiabatic expansion, which means that reducing the pressure around the kernel causes a larger volume and more popped kernels.

    The Rockets 2

    Ok, so the bench didn't show up, and therefore, we got spanked. I'm disappointed. Dallas showed up, but the Rockets didn't. Well, Phoenix will win the next round anyway.

    Saturday, May 07, 2005

    Opera 8

    Woo hoo!

    Sorry for the exuberance. I just installed Opera 8.0 on my computer. For those of you still stuck in the Internet Explorer stone age, Opera is "fire." I have used Safari, Firefox, Mozilla, and Opera--all fare better than IE.

    Now, Opera 8.0 has fixed many of the compatibility issues that almost made me switch to firefox. I love the new tab system because you can delete them from the tag instead of using the alt+w key strokes. Also, the new version of searching makes things easily accessible, even amazon.com searches.

    The only downside, and it is a downside, is that it still is not compatible with blogger.com. I don't quite understand why, because it's fully functional with gmail, and both sites use activex, but it isn't. I tried writing this blog once in Opera, and everything worked fine until I wanted to put in a hyperlink. If I used the short cut, shift+alt+a, then I lost my work. I will have to email them.

    Anyway, for those of you still stuck with IE, I highly recommend you switch, and Opera is my browser of choice. Give it a try.

    The Rockets

    Alright, tonights' the night. I went to see Phantom of the Opera the other night at the dollar movie theater and missed the fourth quarter of game six, but there's no conflict tonight.

    Dallas came back from down 0-2 to take a 3-2 series lead. However, it's all square and the rockets are riding high. Honestly, this series has been odd to me, because I don't think the Mavericks have played up to par. I also think the officiating against Yao has been a little absurd, regardless of whether or not Refs have an agenda.

    Tonight will be the night the buck has to stop. The mavericks will show up for the first time. Yao will stay out of foul trouble for the first time. Someone big will step up off the bench to stop Stackhouse, and we'll have a heck of a game. I want the Rockets, but this will be a close one. I say Rockets 102 - Mavericks 97.

    More TV

    I swear I don't watch a lot of tv. Mostly, it's on in the background as I cook. Which is why I love the cooking channel so much (as I wrote here).

    However, I don't watch Iron Chef: America much anymore because they always seem to be repeats. What I like to watch is Everyday Italian with Chef Giada De Laurentiis. First of all, she's very pretty (and would have been a much better decision than Rachael Ray in the October 2003 issue of FHM). But maybe that's what makes her so attractive. She doesn't do those things, just has a large smile and genuine enthusiam for life and food.

    Not to dwell on the looks, the best reason for watching is the food. Actual italian food you can make at home. Nothing's too hard, and for those like me who love to cook, the dishes are succulent and look great. You can find her cookbook at Crate&Barrel.com.

    So, check it out if you like italian food, or want to be a chef like I do.

    Law & Order: SVU

    Ok, so I have the closest thing to a tv show I actually watch--Law & Order:SVU. Actually, it's more like I watch it late at night on USA while typing away on my laptop, eating dinner, or cleaning house.

    I found the original Law & Order interesting when I caught it--randomly and sporadically at best--however, SVU seems to me the best written of the spin-offs.

    I must admit, having seen so many episodes in a short period of time (they run back to back some times on USA), the plots are starting to get predictable. However, what keeps me watching are the characters of Elliot and Olivia, Munch and Fin, deal with the personal issues of working sex crimes.

    I, like probably most people, consider sex crimes--particularly those involving children--as the worst of all crimes. This is probably due to their psychological nature. Murder ends the suffering of the victim, and those around the tragedy have some closure after trial. However, sex is so pervasive in society, that the pains inflicted on the victim must be relived every time he or she watches tv, or is intimate with a significant other. Dealing with those crimes on a daily basis must undoubtably take a toll, and it is interesting to see how these characters deal with the stress.

    Anyway, watch it if you like that kind of stuff. I put it right up there with my Iron Chef, and Anime.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Texas Cheerleaders

    I applaud this attempt by the Texas legislature to provide a school situation more conducive to judicious use of our procreative powers, but I have to agree with some of the dissenting arguments made in the House:
    "Have we done anything about stem cell research to help people who are dying and are sick advance their health? No," said Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson (search). "Have we done anything about the mentally ill, school finance or ethics?"
    The world has many good causes. Let's put our time and efforts into the most effective way to achieve them.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    The Image of Ho 4

    From 1945 to 1949, the New York Times contained almost 30 articles about Ho Chi Minh per year. A large spike in the number of articles, 256 written about Ho Chi Minh, happens in 1950 (figure 2). Most articles juxtaposed Ho Chi Minh and the French colonialists, often referencing him in a quote by French authorities. The prevalence of Ho in the newspaper parallels United States interest in Southeast Asia.

    The United States viewed Vietnam after 1945 in a couple of ways. First, the American government wanted General MacArthur to reconstruct Japan into a pro-American state quickly and effectively. Joseph M. Dodge, the Detroit banker put in charge of stabilizing the Japanese economy, realized that

    the nations in [Southeast Asia] were potential exporters of food and raw materials, and they required finished goods to stimulate economic development and, as a consequence, reduce political instability. Japan … ‘complemented’ Southeast Asia economically; it was ‘the natural workshop of the East’ (Andrew J. Rotter, The Path to Vietnam: Origins of the American Commitment to Southeast Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987) 128).

    Second, American interests in Europe came intertwined with a stable France. Ho Chi Minh’s uncertain relationship with the USSR pushed the Vietminh away from the USA. The United States wanted to make sure that France could exert leverage against the Soviet Union in Europe—meaning supporting the non-Communist French political parties—even though these same political parties campaigned for French colonialism in Southeast Asia, which Roosevelt had argued against (Alan J. Levine, The United States and the Struggle for Southeast Asia, 1945-1975 (Westport, CN: Praeger, 1995) 28-32). The United States also worried about “a French military withdrawal [from Vietnam] that would leave ‘chaos and terroristic activities’ in its wake and open the way to a Communist takeover in Vietnam” (Moss, 47).

    The depiction of Ho Chi Minh in the New York Times during the late 1940s mimicked the American stance on Indochina. On 24 December 1946 the American government characterized Ho as “a moderate,” while the French characterized him as “a fire-eater.” Throughout the rest of 1945-6, articles depict Ho Chi Minh as “Premier,” “President of the Vietnam Republic,” and “almost legendary.” These august titles shed Ho in a positive light as a fellow leader of a democracy. “Legendary” connotes a mythical nature to the man.

    On the other hand, some writers depicted Ho as “communistic,” “rebel,” “fire-eater,” or a “nominal head” of the government. They used the adjectives “duplicity,” and “Pearl Harbor tactics” to describe his actions. These words suggest a man who fights against everything America stands for, cannot be satiated by level-headed peaceful Americans, and has no real power. His actions show a lying, deceitful man, the opposite of what Americans expect of their heroes. President Eisenhower, trusted greatly by the population in international politics, provided an excellent foil.

    Both positive and negative images show an American government unsure of how to deal with Indochina and wary of Ho Chi Minh. Words such as “almost legendary” and “mystery man” reveal the lack of knowledge the United States government had about Ho Chi Minh. The balance of positive and negative adjectives painted a double picture of Ho. The U.S. government wanted a free and independent Vietnam, and painted him in a positive light, however, it feared for the spread of communism by this “Moscow-trained communist,” and so portrayed him negatively.