Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Ten Good Things

with 3 comments

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OK, as promised, here is my list of ten good things. Considering that I have at least one or two really depressing posts almost done about current events, this will nicely cleanse people’s mental palates. Yes, a lot of them are science related. I’m a science geek, note the title of the blog. And to be honest, we are living “interesting times“, so it was a bit hard to find ten good things. Especially items that are comparable to the calamitous nature of some of last week’s ten depressing things. Still, stiff upper lip and all that, here we go…

1. Robots on Mars and Saturn. There are so many amazing things going on in space exploration that I could make a “ten amazing space exploration things” list, but for our purposes we will count them as one item. The energizer bunny rovers on Mars survived a planetary dust storm and are moving on. The Cassini orbiter continues to return incredible pictures from Saturn. More probes are en route to the Moon and Pluto. And a thirty million dollar prize has been announced to the party that can get a robotic explorer to the Moon!

2. Child Mortality down. OK, now this is good news. According to UNICEF, the world wide child mortality rate for under five year olds hit an historic low last year. It’s always been shameful how many infants die of preventable reasons around the world, and finally some progress is being made.

3. Countries agree on plan to save animals. Granted this is a plan to save the world’s endangered livestock breeds, so it falls under the “I love animals, they’re delicious” category. Still, in the greater scheme of things it’s important to preserve the various bloodlines of domestic animals that humans have bred through the centuries. It’s important for maintaining a wide genetic stock, and for just plain old historical preservation. I mean, the world would be a lesser place without such things as the Anglo/Nubian Goat or the California Variegated Mutant sheep now, wouldn’t it?

4. Svalbard Global Seed Vault. OK, I’ve blogged about this before, and it’s not exactly recent news, but it is very good news. A seed bank where seeds from as many of the world’s plants as possible has been built on a remote island in the Arctic. Unlike many of the other seed banks in the world, this one is in an area where it is unlikely to come to harm from human or environmental action.

5. Extinct dolphin may survive? Short and sweet: someone may have seen a photographed a living Yangtze River dolphin. It’s a slender thread to hold on to, but do we want to be the first generation to render a species of cetacean extinct? Maybe there’s still hope for these amazing creatures.

6. Gum menace solved? Yes, scientists have developed a non stick gum. I know, I know, but still, removing gum from sidewalks and such does cost millions of dollars world wide. Heck, gum is even illegal in Singapore to avoid the nasty mess it makes.

7. Universal Health Care in US proposed. At least three presidential candidates have announced plans for universal health care if they are elected. It’s always been embarrassing that the USA is the only industrialized nation on the planet without cradle to grave health care. Its ludicrous really, I mean, isn’t the government’s primary task to protect its nation’s people? What could be more important than protecting their health? Granted I doubt much will come of it, but at least it’s being talked about for a change.

8. OJ in jail. Yes, the world’s most infamous unconvicted killer is in jail. (I did say I would be scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with ten good things, right?) I’ve always predicted that he was a bad man and that he would eventually prove his mettle, or lack thereof, and it’s nice to see him show his true colours. Schadenfreude, I know, no need to point it out.

9. Snake rescues puppy. Ha! I bet some readers thought I made that story up out of whole cloth! No, there really was an item in the news involving puppy rescue and a snake. OK, I may have transposed a few details to make the story more interesting, and I’m not sure how the chemical spill got in my original version…but bloggers are allowed poetic license, aren’t they? Read about the amazing puppy python rescue

10. I’m still here blogging away! Things could be much worse! War with Iran hasn’t started, America has not declared martial law, the world’s economies are still stumbling along, and just in general for most people life goes on and the pessimistic predictions of doom and gloom by the likes of people like me haven’t yet come to pass. That has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? Any day above ground is a good day…

Who dost make the green herb to spring up, mistress of mankind!
Who hast created everything, who dost guide aright all creatures!
Mother Ishtar, whose power no god can approach!
A prayer will I utter; may she do unto me what seems good unto her…
O my mistress, make me to know my deed, establish for me a place of rest!
Absolve my sins, lift up my face!

(The above image Copyright © Doug Stych. All rights reserved. The above prayer is from ancient Babylonia, it was written some thousands of years ago and so it is still considered Public Domain under US copyright law. Curious how it clearly influenced subsequent old testament prayers, nu?)

Written by unitedcats

September 18, 2007 at 7:19 am

Posted in Philosophy, Science, World

3 Responses

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  1. Doug, thanks for eeking out the *ten* good things list I was so looking forward to.

    OK so it’s not a walk in the park, coming up with ten (count ’em again folks) good things…but now you too can exclaim “mission accomplished” and move on.
    The Seed Vault strikes me as the most positive of these developments. Maybe myriad of corn species in Mexico will have a chance at being preserved.

    Nancy

    September 18, 2007 at 3:40 pm

  2. […] Message Boards wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptOK, as promised, here is my list of ten good things. Considering that I have at least one or two really depressing posts almost done about current events, this will nicely cleanse people’s mental palates. Yes, a lot of them are science related…. […]

  3. Decent list, but there is a downside to universal health coverage, and that is that it tends to stifle long-term R&D. When the government is the sole spender for anything, it gets preferred pricing. That means less monies for companies to work with. This means fewer treatments down the road because an industry without profit incentive has no reason to take risks, and drug-development is a *very* risky (and expensive) business.

    The cold war proved my point rather emphatically. There’s a reason the US had better technology at the end. You cannot mandate technological progress.

    So while universal health coverage and single payor sounds nice in theory, it tends to stifle innovation in the healthcare sector. This is why you don’t find drug companies in France or the UK any longer? They all came to the US because they couldn’t make any money. And money drives R&D.

    Let us also not forget that government reimbursement for medical services, now, is often not enough to cover costs, nevermind make a living. This is why you’ll find most doctors against the concept of government-run healthcare: because they know they won’t be able to make a living when and if this happens. (There’s a reason many physicians don’t accept medicare or medicaid, and it has nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with losing money on every medicare visit.) The problem will only get worse if Uncle Sam controls the entire medical system.

    I would rather spend my own dollars buying health care. (And I do.) The same goes for retirement, as a matter of fact. I’d opt out of social security if I could, because I can do more effective financial and retirement planning than my government can. Private citizens and the free market can do anything better than the government can when it comes to managing risk.* They just choose not to.

    * Municiple services and military protection, therefore, do not fall under this umbrella. And those are about the only things I can think of off the top of my head that don’t.

    RJS

    September 23, 2007 at 11:37 am


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