Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Horse is a Cow, of Course, or Course

Recently the U.S. House of Representatives gave a big “Neeeeeh” to spending money on horse-slaughterhouse inspections. In the article No More Horse Meat, the fact that two Texas slaughterhouses had been recently shut down for killing horses for meat brought forth much analysis of the hypocrisy of why we eat certain cuts of meat and not others. One conclusion came to a reason – certain cultures dictate feelings to individual animals.

However I feel that maybe the cultures do have some backbone to the reasoning.

A big picture that may pop into your head is that of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (not looking at the historical significance) or the little pig Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. These barnyard animals that are just walking meat in reality were given personalities in the novels. When the creatures came to the knowing that they might be butchered or sold off, there was an uprising to save them. When the animals died – many readers/watchers felt sympathetic or may have “teared-up” (I cried). We all wanted them to live a happy life as long as possible. However, like mentioned earlier – these personalities aren’t prevalent in reality. Cows just moo, and chickens just cluck. However, dogs – now dogs do have a prevalent personality. They lick, whimper, cuddle, play, and provide companionship to many. Others may view horses to have quite a soft, beautiful personality. So personality hits a nerve in our brains to cherish, not eat.

A further reason we may eat certain animals and not others may stem from the original usefulness otherwise. The entire reason horses were brought to America was for transportation. I can’t imagine a settler exploring the country on a cow. (That would be a long “moooove”.) Many people that live on a farm know that meat cows are much different than milk cows. We do not butcher milk cows as they serve for a practical use being alive: milk. Hens are kept alive while able to lay eggs.

Also, what we eat typically tastes good to most. Supposedly, horse meat is very strained and not one slab but very fibril - and to many, not very tasty. Milk cows also typically do not taste as good as meat cows. Dog is quite revolting to some.

Some feel that we should not eat any meat at all, and some want it to rip apart every living creature and take a big bite. So, there has to be a line drawn to compromise. This is probably the main reason the House rejected spending money on horse-slaughterhouses: they are answering to many of their constituents whom desire the line to be drawn after cows. Think about it, without a boundary, we (humans) might be edible to…!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex, Maybe?

Or maybe not…if you are a Texas student learning about [not-so-] sexual education. And just in case you are one who has not recently experienced sex ed. in Texas, it currently has as much information about sex in it as Texas Law allows for it – so basically very little. In fact, most students could say that their teachers were ones that would stumble out of shock when coming across the rare word “s-e-x”.

As mentioned earlier, the reason for this is that Texas law prohibits much talk about sex and protection of sex using condoms or contraception. The law, the Texas Education Code, is rather specific in what can and cannot be taught for human sexuality instruction. First of all, all course material (so books, pamphlets, and other information pertaining to intercourse and sexually transmitted diseases) is selected by the district school board under local health education council advice. The material has to put abstinence before all other sexual activity as the “preferred choice of behavior,”[1] giving it more time to be preached upon. Students should be able to grasp that abstinence (before marriage) is the only one hundred percent method of protection from unplanned pregnancy and/or getting STDs. The Texas Education Code does give information on protected sex, in that all that can be taught about the matter is the percentages of human use of contraception – and that’s only if there is text mentioned about it, otherwise the topic can be left out. So, there is absolutely no information given on how effective certain condoms or methods of contraception are for protection against getting pregnant or transmitting diseases via intercourse. Also, schools can not make condoms accessible to students when teaching about human sexuality. The Law goes on to set guidelines for creating the local health education council.

Of these so-called abstinence-geared textbooks, only one that was under review by the Texas State Board of Education made reference of condoms. Others felt teens should “get plenty of rest if they want to avoid sexually transmitted diseases” or that students can “help prevent pregnancies by respecting themselves”. [2] And now, some Texas Congressmen and women desire to make sexual education even narrower. House Bill No. 311 which was recently introduced calls for requiring school districts to notify parents or guardians before a student can have education about human sexuality. An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate and each has been referred to committees on education.

Of course many interests are ecstatic about Texas’s method. Abstinence advocates feel it is the best was to preach to students to avoid pregnancy and STDs. They feel that keeping the youth free from unplanned pregnancy results in more ability to think about their education and future. However critics feel that the best education gives students the ability to know about abstinence and protected sex via condoms and contraception.

So come learn about sexual education in Texas! Or maybe…just come learn a little bit. What young students will only be learning in Texas stands: abstinence education, or the “no-sex is safe-sex” education. The only problem is, the statistics stand strong as well - Texas had the highest teen pregnancy rate in 2004. [3]




Friday, July 27, 2007

Brucella? No Thank You. But Should an University Be Under Criticism for An Employee Whom Came in Contact?

Brucella Cells

And the answer is...
No absolutely not -- in fact, that is quite ridiculous.

Emily Ramshaw, of the Dallas Morning News, wrote of an A&M lab worker whom became infected by the infectious agent Brucella. She told of this university's and others' situation.

A lab technician at A&M came into contact with this infectious agent Brucella. Just to give a little brief, Brucella is a zoonosis - a disease that is usually only in animals and is transmitted to humans via contact with the diseased animal or the infectious agent itself. Even veterinarians and farmers can come into contact with Brucella. The problem in the case of the lab technician at A&M was that she did not have federal approval to work with the agent, and when she came into contact with Brucella, A&M did not report the exposure to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Although, to make the story even a little more intense - she literally was not working with the agent - she was just cleaning the aerosol chamber that housed it. But uh oh, she kinda didn't have the authorization to work with aerosols. . .

So what is to be done? Ramshaw reports of the CDC putting a block on the research that was being conducted, even though it was award-winning biodefense research. And she quotes the director of the Sunshine Project whom first released Texas A&M's incident (Edward Hammond) to say “Texas A&M really screwed things up. But I don't think they're the only ones that have a mess like this on their hands . . . universities generally don't have the command and control structures that are needed to handle biodefense research safely.” But is combating research the right idea?

And the answer is...
No absolutely not -- in fact, that is quite ridiculous.

With research, the world has developed countless vaccinations; treatments of diseases, disorders, cancers; technology; and a multitude of countless things we humans rely on. And, universities employ some of the top research scientists. These scientists rely on the universities to interact with other researchers, develop ideas, and teach their immense knowledge to students and coworkers alike. Combating this research, would be slowing down what keeps humans alive, healthy, and happy. And, as far as the lab technician at A&M whom was working around the Brucella and did not report coming into contact with it - this is a very possible situation being a lab technician. As I do research on DNA myself, I understand that there are always fellow lab techs that may be conducting research that one may be unaware of its dangerous potential. And, most times when one comes into contact with something that could be hazardous, one may not necessarily know until later symptoms develop. And the first thing the university probably wants to do is not to spend time contacting the CDC, but rather get the employee into advanced treatment.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's About Time: Jessica's Law

The picture may be familiar, the sweet little girl in pink
whom went on amber alert as she was abducted from her own grandparents home one night. When all was solved, it was discovered the little nine-year-old, Jessica Lunsford, had been kidnapped by John Couey. He admitted to have kept her bound in the closet for at-least three days. Her body was found buried in his backyard, and had shown signs of rape, abuse, and being buried alive.

The sweet little girl in pink was known as "grandma's girl"* and to have just loved: purple and pink.

Her father, even declaring himself to be just a simple man - a truck driver - fought. He was devastated, but knew action was all he could do. With much lobbying he has gotten legislation on the floor, legislation talked about among the public, and bills now passed in Texas. A bill was signed Monday, July 17, 2007 to increase punishment for sexual predators by Governor Rick Perry. The restrictions in the bill include GPS tracking and at-least twenty-five years in prison without parole for aggravated assault of a child under six-years.** And thank her father, for the many justices he served the system by his strict advocation.

*Read more about sweet Jessica Lunsford
*Continue reading information on the Predation Bill, also known as the Jessica Lunsford Law

~For Jessica~