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Archive for October, 2011

I’ve never understood the hatred that Planned Parenthood generates in some people.  These are often the same people who cry about “welfare babies.”  Enter Texas and its recent foray into defunding Planned Parenthood under the idea that doing so will prevent abortions.  The Dallas Observer recently wrote a fantastic article detailing what happened, why, and what the proponents hope to accomplish and why they won’t accomplish it.

The part most interesting/depressing aspect to me is how women are again being limited in their ability to “plan” how they want to start a family.  First off, many of these services are not covered by insurance (though Cialis and Viagra are).  This by itself severely limits a woman’s ability to “plan.”  So, since insurance doesn’t cover these services, women seek out organizations like Planned Parenthood.  With mostly male legislatures controlling these funding decisions, women are again marginalized.  It’s a banal comment that I’m sure has been made numerous times before, but if men were the ones getting pregnant, we would be financing significantly more opportunities for men to “plan” when to be parents.  That’s what bothers me most, the discrepancy between the two sexes, and how the majority of decisions ultimately favor one sex over the other.

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Equatorial Guinea is likely one of the most corrupt countries around.  I’ve just finished reading Fukuyama’s “The Origins of Political Order,” and one of this claims is that for a country to be considered a modern democracy, it must meet three standards: be a “state;” have a rule of law; and accountability.  Many nations have two of three, but hitting the trifecta is rather hard.  Equatorial Guinea has the state part down; it’s the other two requirements that currently elude it.  That’s not to say that those running Equatorial Guinea don’t at least like to pay lip service to those other requirements (emphasis added):

Tang responded that they were not the only African country with a bad reputation. “People have tried to learn the truth of cultures before making accusations. Concerning what you say about diktats of government, let me say again: Equatorial Guinea is trying its best to be a country ruled by law. We are trying to do our best.” He closed the meeting by thanking his visitors for their sincerity.

Just because it says it’s trying does not mean that it is, but Equatorial Guinea is certainly under greater international scrutiny because of its oil wealth, so it pays lip service to the “rule of law” while repressing its citizens.

As an aside, the U.S. government is currently going after Teodorin Obiang, the dictator’s playboy son, in what may be the greatest case name ever: United States vs. One White Crystal-Covered “Bad Tour” Glove And Other Michael Jackson Memorabilia

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When listening to The Big Short, I didn’t fully understand the brief mention re: Steve Eisman that he thought for-profit colleges were the next bubble.  The below chart helps explain why (from the College Board, through Wonkblog):

That is some serious cost increase.  Combined with recent default rates approaching credit card default rates (see chart below from the New York Fed’s Quarterly Report on Consumer Credit, from Rortybomb), and it appears that more pain, for both financial institutions and borrowers, will be coming.

Furthermore, from Mike Konczal (emphasis added):

It is good to see President Obama, as part of his “We Can’t Wait” campaign, pushing to get some fencing around the rules for future student loan debtors through an executive order. According to this press release, the government will accelerate the implementation of laws “to limit loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income starting in 2012 [instead of 2014]. In addition, the debt would be forgiven after 20 years instead of 25, as current law allows.” However, according to an early analysis of this move, ”[b]orrowers with loans from 2007 and earlier will not be eligible. Likewise, borrowers who don’t have at least one loan from 2012 or later, like students who graduated in 2011 or earlier, also won’t be eligible. Borrowers who are already in repayment will not be eligible.” So the problem remains for now.

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But new evidence suggests a breathtaking possibility. Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and University of Washington researchers found that the skin of the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, a color-changing cousin of octopuses, contains gene sequences usually expressed only in the light-sensing retina of the eye. In other words, cephalopods—octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid—may be able to see with their skin.

I no longer eat calamari as, well, they’re just about the coolest animals alive. For more, read here: Squid article.

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A federal advisory panel is recommending that boys as young as 11 years old be given the controversial HPV vaccination shot currently given to girls to prevent cervical cancer.

I remember talking to my doctor about getting tested for HPV, and was told that no test really existed and that it did not affect men.  The second part is certainly not true as the rise in oral cancers amongst men demonstrates.  Assuming, however, that no harm came to men, it still strikes me as irresponsible to not have a test, or a vaccine, for something that you can transmit to a partner.  It’s one of those instances where all responsibility is placed on the woman, and that strikes me as inherently unfair.

 

Update

Amy Davidson:

Vaccinating boys keeps them from getting sick, and that may be the main way this is sold. But, as the C.D.C. panel noted, it “may also provide indirect protection of women.” One would think that raising boys to be men who protect women (and other men), directly or indirectly, would be a conservative priority as well. The maddening thing about vaccine opponents is the way they rely on the immunity of most of us, while facilitating new outbreaks of obsolete diseases.

Discussing this issue in context of the larger apprehension of some against vaccines in general.

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