Friday, May 28, 2010

Restasis Commercial

I keep seeing the same Restasis commercial on TV and I seem to be the only one bothered by it. When it comes on, I pause the commercial and do a play-by-play analysis for whomever in my family is watching.

1. It starts with a woman telling her doctor that she's tired of using eye drops "several times a day".
2. The doctor gives her a prescription for Restasis and says that it will "promote tear production" and she can use her other drops less.
3. The woman acts nervous about using a prescription eye medicine.
4. The doctor reassures the woman saying she uses Restasis herself, twice daily.

If Restasis is so good, why does it only reduce the need for drops from several times a day to twice a day?

The poll results from my family:
My mother-in-law said she didn't notice this (she's very polite to me).
My son said I was over analyzing it.
My wife didn't seem to really care.

Full disclosure: I used Restasis after Lasik eye surgery. It was very expensive, but also pretty darn good. I look forward to the generic, over-the-counter version someday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Finale

I guess I better write about "Lost" while it is still a news story. I have to confess that I have been a faithful viewer.

I am amused at the response to the final episode of "Lost" from other viewers. Many were disappointed that a grand unified meaning of every quirky thing from six seasons wasn't provided. Others were content with the "happily ever after" finale.

Here's my analysis:

The writers had a responsibility to sell each 1 hour show and try to get people to come back for more. Fortunately, the writer's were intelligent and made the story interesting: interesting characters and crazy situations. Some of these situations were resolve in the 1 hour, others took several episodes, and some were never resolved (kind of like real life). I think it is unrealistic to expect anything more.

I appreciate what was created, I enjoyed it, but I'm glad it is over. That's an extra hour I now have every week.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More FDR: Wheat and Tares

I heard a positive news story recently that ties together several of my past blog posts. San Diego State University gave honorary degrees to Japanese American students who were forced to leave school in 1942 due to being sent to an internment camp [1]

As I read about the story further, I learned something shocking about this embarrassing episode in U.S. history: It was Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) who signed Executive Order 9066 that created the internment camps! This info made me think of a few of my posts from last year where I tried to answer the question: was FDR's New Deal good or bad for the country? My source of information were interviews with some of my octogenarian friends[2][3]

To save you the trouble, the results were:
The New Deal was great, putting people to work and literally saving lives, unless you were a small business owner who had to pay more than your fair share or a rancher/farmer who felt a man needs to fend for himself.

I don't think I need to do another survey to see if people agree that the internment camps were bad. This is where my post Wheat and Tares comes in. We all have good (Wheat) and bad (Tares) in our conduct and character. With another election coming up, I wish the candidates (and critics) would acknowledge this and quit the character assassinations.

Also, I wonder how many Americans called FDR a racist for what he did. I think we've come along way as a country since then.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time For a New Name

I was surprised that this article didn't point out the interesting name of the "Chair of the Pro Choice Caucus". If I were for abortions, I wouldn't want my name to be "Slaughter".


The chairwoman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to press Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan about her views on abortion rights.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said she was concerned about a memo Kagan wrote during the Clinton administration supporting legislation to ban some partial birth abortions.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Boy Who Harvested the Wind

This is a review of William Kamkwamba's book "The Boy Who Harvested the Wind". This book is an amazing story of life in Africa today, told first hand. It shows:
  • The superstitions that still exist.
  • Struggles of individuals due to lack of education and other opportunities, as well as alcohol abuse.
  • Political corruption that lead to a devastating famine.
  • First hand account of the famine.
  • The story of individuals struggling to survive.
  • The amazing inventiveness of one boy to improve the quality of life for his family and village by building a windmill out of junk.
Many of my views were reconfirmed by this story.
  • Human suffering is tragic and real.
  • Giving aid to corrupt governments is a VERY ineffective way to reduce this suffering.
  • Local community leaders are a better source of meeting the needs of a community.
  • Solutions to problems can come from the most unexpected places.
  • Providing people opportunities to learn and help themselves is the best solution.
Here's a video of William Presenting what he did at a TED conference.



Here's a clip from a documentary:


Assault on Reason

This is a review of Al Gore's book "Assault on Reason". If you're familiar with my views, you may be surprised that I would even read his book, but I am seriously trying to be more "civil" in my discussions [1].

Pres. Obama actually made a valid point in his commencement address at the University of Michigan [2] about listening to opposing viewpoints:
Still, if you’re somebody who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while. If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.
A year ago I read the "Conscience of a Liberal" by Paul Krugman and so I figured it was time for another dose of opposing views.

I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed and agreed with Al Gore's book. He made a good case about the problems of politics in the U.S. today, presenting scientific studies and other information. He discussed the problem of special interests and how they manipulate the political conversation and agenda.

The problem that I had with this book is that after a convincing discourse on America's "assault on reason", it then proceeded to carry out an "assault on reason". The book waged a full attack on President Bush and Republicans. Everything they did was criminal. Not one mention was made of any crimes made by Democrats. "Reason" and civil discourse lead me to acknowledge the faults in my own thoughts and beliefs and recognize the good in opposing views.

Al Gore missed an opportunity to do this. I was surprised to actually make it half-way through the book before getting tired of the force-feeding of anti-Bushisms. I think the best way to summarize this book is "A spoon full of sugar helps the kool-aid go down".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Marijuana and Earthquakes

California has an initiative on the ballot in the Nov. 2010 election to legalizing marijuana. One of the main arguments for this is that criminalizing pot results in the problems found in the 1920s during prohibition. This is a compelling argument but reminds me of my experience with earthquakes. Every time there is an earthquake, my friends and relatives from out of state call to see if I'm okay. They see the dramatic coverage of large fissures, fallen buildings, etc. and immediately worry about us. Meanwhile, we get about 30 seconds of shaking to liven our conversations (no material damage).

The "narrative" for prohibition seems to focus on the epicenter in Chicago with Al Capone and his bootlegging friends. However, today there are 100s of dry counties in the U.S that prohibit alcohol without even the slightest aftershock. The best argument I found against "dry counties" was that people who consume alcohol have to drive farther to get intoxicated and therefore are driving drunk longer.

Here are my views on legalizing marijuana:

1. The Federal Government does not, nor should it, have the power to restrict our liberties (At least they realized in 1920 that this was unconstitutional resulting in an amendment).
2. There are plenty of people who will make bad decisions when trying to provide, procure or use self-medicating substances.
3. There are plenty of people who are perfectly content avoiding self-medicating substances (legal or not).
(The next two are from a friend who is a Criminal Defense Attorney).
4. "There is nothing that leads a person faster to a worthless life that smoking pot".
5. "We should expect all citizens to be productive members of society, otherwise they are a drain on our resources".
6. If thinking about this gives you a headache, please don't go and get a medical marijuana card.