Category Archives: politics

Where’s the Line?

Last week in my post about genetic privacy I asked if technology was moving too fast and if we needed new guidelines to help us cope with this new world. This week my question to you is this. Is society better off if we allow science to progress with minimal restrictions?

I read in a recent article on the Huffingtonpost about naloxone and how this anti-opiate’s use to treat overdoses has been fought. The critics say it will lead to more drug use and overdoses.

However the larger picture here is that bureaucrats and politicians are deciding what’s right for people. Once again the will of the populous is being ignored so those in power can look good and line their pockets with bribes, I mean campaign contributions, from the pharmaceutical industry.

The old adage goes: there’s no profit in a cure. What does this have to do with science you may be asking yourself?

Everything.

Imagine if penicillin or the polo vaccine were denied to people on the grounds it would increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in activities that could put them at risk for these diseases.

Like wise imagine getting sick and when your doctor asks how you got that way and he/she didn’t like the answer could refuse to treat you. This is exactly the scenario which the blunt amendment allows for.

Doctors and other workers could refuse to treat patients on moral grounds or deeply held beliefs. What’s more your employer could do the same and opt out of covering things like birth control and treatment for AIDS/HIV.

So the question I again pose to you is this. While me need common sense legislation to address the rapid increase in technology and how we deal with each other, how do we also allow for those advances without stifling them?

Labor Day

Do you think it’s OK
To work for shitty pay?
Doing whatever they say,
So at the end of the day
You have to put things on layaway?

Do you think it’s OK
CEOs get three hundred percent the pay
OF the average Joe‘s?

Do you think them lazy to say
They want higher pay when their
Income has been froze for three decades?

Don’t listen to the crooks on Wall Street
Who say austerity is the way while they get
Richer by the day, or that tax cuts for the one
Percent are here to say as our debt mounts
And infrastructure fades away.

workers
image by Herman Brinkman via sxc.hu

If you feel like me and see something is rotten
Then let’s make this a Labor Day something that ought
Not be forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Where’s the Line?

Last week In my post about genetic privacy I asked if technology was moving too fast and if we needed new guidelines to help us cope with this new world. This week my question to you is this. Is society better off if we allow science to progress with minimal restrictions?

I read in a recent article on the Huffington post about naloxone and this anti-opiate use to treat overdoses has been fought. The critics of the say it will lead to more drug use and overdoses.

However the larger picture here is that bureaucrats and politicians are decided what right for people. Once again the will of the populous is being ignored so those in power can look good and line their pockets with bribes, I mean campaign contributions, from the pharmaceutical industry.

The old adage goes: there no profit in a cure. What does this have to do with science you may be asking yourself? Everything.

Imagine if penicillin or the polo vaccine were denied to people on the grounds it would increase a person’s likelihood of engaging in activities that could put them at risk for these diseases.

Like wise imagine getting sick and when your doctor ask how you got that and he/she didn’t like the answer could refuse to treat you. This is exactly the scenario which the blunt amendment allows for.

Doctors and other workers could refuse to treat patients on moral grounds or deeply held beliefs. What’s more your employer could do the same and opt out of covering things like birth control and treatment for AIDS/HIV.

So the question I again pose to you is this. While me need common sense legislation to address the rapid increase in technology and how we deal with each other, how do we also allow for those advances without stifling them?

Current TV: A case Study of Bad Marketing and Brand Recognition

What current TV can teach us about Marketing and Brand recognition

Intro

For those you unaware up until last week Current TV was a left leaning political channel founded in 2002 by Al gore. He along with his partners sold the channel to Aljazeera for an estimated $500 million.

While the former hosts of the programs debated why the channel was a failure their analysis was shallow at best and puerile at the worst.The real reason Current TV failed was because of it’s piss poor marketing.

The Business Model

Before you decide to bring a product to market you must first verify it either solves a problem or provides a delight. The problem with Current TV was what it initially provided was “viewer created content,” or vc^2 as it was referred to. The problem with this is many folds.

First because Current TV wasn’t available on most basic cable or satellite packages, or had to specifically requested, this limited the viewer ship of the network. Moreover because of the proliferation of sites like You tube why would consumers spend money on something they could watch for free?

Content

Much the same way MTV used to show the same videos ad nauseum in its early days, so to did Current TV. Its handful of vc^2 segments repeated around the clock.

This wouldn’t have been as bad if what they showed had a consist theme. But each segmented varied in both length and content so a viewer never knew quite what they were watching or for how long.

Consumers crave fresh content but also have expectations about quality and consistency. The problem with Current TV was it didn’t give viewers much of either. Again because these were programs created by viewers they ranged from terrible to terrific with no metric to determine if you should waste your time watching.

Branding and Messaging

After this business model fail Current TV tried to re-brand itself as a liberal political and news channel. However the same issues carried over. While they dropped all but the most professional viewer created programs like Vanguard or The Young Turks they still had tons of time to fill.

The solution they came up with was to fill it up documentaries and reality TV shows interspersed with political shows like View Point, The War room, etc. The problem with this was a disconnect in messaging it caused.

You can’t have a station dedicated to reporting the news and then show a documentary on how Tupac and Biggie’s murders were part of a conspiracy. Nor can you show propaganda pieces like Michael Moore’s movies and expect to be taken serious as a credible and objective source of journalism.

Enter Aljazeera

Another chapter in the Current TV saga has just started. Aljazeera’s acquisition of the station caused backlashes before it even started airing programs as the new Aljazeera America.

Many cable and satellite providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable refuse to offer the station. And of those that carry the channel sponsors have threatened to pull their ads in protest.

Conclusion

While it yet remains to be seen if American audiences will embrace the new network, one thing I can say for sure is: if they fail to address the perceived issues with their brand identity and messaging, they will have that much more trouble winning the consumer base over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Right to Genetic Privacy be the Next Casualty of the Police State?

Henrietta Lack’s cells where harvested from a biopsy without her family’s consent. They became the first immoral cells, able to be replicated in a culture and have been used in some 70,000 papers on genomic research as well as in research for the polio vaccines.

However Lack’s family didn’t know about the so called Hela Cells until twenty years after the fact. By then researchers had begun doing experiments on her children without their knowledge. Their medical records where then released and published without their consent.

In a recent decision the NIH which oversees the immortal cells created a council to govern who has access to the cell line. Lack’s family were asked to sit on the council and agreed. However this raises a larger question. (Wynne Parry via the Huffington Post tinyurl.com/mm5k46p)

As genetic research advances what’s is there to prevent you from having you genome sequenced and having that information published or sold to corporations? What’s to prevent HMOs from using this data to justify charging higher copays and deductibles to people predisposed to certain diseases? Especially given that the ACA mandates everyone must have some form of insurance.

What’s to prevent life insurance companies from using this data to deny paying claims by arguing a person didn’t die of natural causes and was a genetic time bomb?

While this information could be used for good purposes such as screening for various diseases or enabling gene line therapy to remove them from any children you may have, it could as easily be used to nefarious ends.

Given the current trend towards militarized police forces and an ever expanding spy apparatus ,what’s to prevent the government or private corporations from using your gnomic data to track you via DNA scanners.

What’s to prevent us from losing basic rights because we don’t measure up on the Gnome scale? This brings to mind the Movie Gattaca in which such a reality was the case.

Every aspect of your life was determined by your genes and the only way to work your way up was by posing as one of the genetic elites who had fallen on hard times and sold their DNA to so called Invalids.

Sure you’re thinking that could never happened. But this is already a reality for millions of people awaiting transplants. Getting on the list can be a task in itself, then once politics, money and race enter the mix your position on these waiting lists is subject to whims of bureaucrats.

There was recently a case of a black teenager who was denied a spot on a heart transplant list for allegedly having low grades and run ins with the law, which the hospital argued showed he had a pattern of not following orders.

After the story broke the hospital revised its decision and he was put on the list. But what about the next time something like this happens and the media doesn’t pay attention?

While I’m all for scientific progress there should be discussions about how these new technologies may be abused. For instance while Google Glass may be cool it does raise privacy issues.

Having the capability to record everything you see doesn’t mean you should. Nor does it mean you have to right to record others without their knowledge or consent.

We are hurtling to a world where the line between humans and technology is blurring by the second. In this new world we need new guidelines to govern how we interact with each other. Are we gong treat each other with respect or like a series of codes to be traded like commodities?

 

The Little Socialist that Wasn’t

 

Once upon time there was a Kenyan Marxist Socialist Muslim. His name was Barack Hussein Obama II. He became the first black president of the Harvard law review and became a community organizer in Chicago. He studied Saul Alinsky and palled round with terrorists like William Ayers.

He went on to became a senator and the 44th President of the United States. While he is often called a socialist or communist, every thing he has done is to push the agenda of his masters at the Chamber of Commerce and on Wall Street.

More than any other president he’s hastened the gap between rich and poor by making ninety percent of the Bush Tax cuts permanent, not going after the bankers that caused the financial collapse in ’08, and bargaining with the crazies on the right.

All the while Obama repeats the same chant, “Bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship,” as he stabs the progressive base in the back.

The grand bargain and sequestration were his ideas and he still wants to gut social security by tying it to chained CPI. At a time when we need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructures he’s pushing for more austerity.

Because a socialist would be all for one percent of the population controlling the majority of the wealth in a country, and receiving the bulk of the economic gains from the recovery while the average man is struggling to get by.

But never you mind because, “bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship.”

Yes a socialist would OK with corporations funneling unlimited money into government so they can get laws written in their favor.

And a socialist would be fine with consigning workers to have no job security or collective bargaining rights. While corporations are given massive tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas, and exploiting their workers by not paying them the overtime they worked or even a living wage.

Remember folks, “lesser of two evils, lesser of tow evils, and bipartisanship!”

I guess he’s also the type that sees no issue with saddling students with thousands of dollars of debut with little prospect of getting employed, while the government makes billions off the interest of these loans.

Funny, shouldn’t he push for universal education instead? Shush, “bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship.”

I suppose Obama’s the type of socialist who finds nothing wrong with forcing people to buy insurance from private corporations instead of pushing for universal health care. And if they don’t follow along like good lemmings they get hit with a tax penalty.

When it comes to the rights of the people to peacefully assemble and petition their government for a redress of their grievances, he’s the type of social who has no problem turning the FBI and other government agencies loose on them.

And I suppose he doesn’t find it strange the NSA under his watch has been granted the power to spy on American citizens, in clear violation of the fourth amendment. And when people raise concerns about civil liberties and the over reach of the executive branch they are branded tin foil hat wears or traitors.

When whistler blowers have stepped forward with evidence of the administration’s secretive and hypocritical behavior instead of being praised they’ve been treated like war criminals.

Given all this Obama isn’t the worst socialist in history. He’s not one at all. In fact his actions put him in another ism altogether. He’s nothing but a corporatist hack who has whored himself out to the top bidder and, like his buddy Rahm Emmanuel, will gut the middle class to line his masters’ pocket, while himself getting rich in the process.

Lesser of two evils my ass.