Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Bummer

(I'm back, y'all!

Before I move on to the topic at hand, I'd like to briefly say that the past 15 days have been a test of my will and stamina. And I'm in no mood to write when all my energy has been zapped by noon. That's why my blog has been stagnant during this time, if anyone out there cares. But as I was saying...)

It's late July, and this is a unique crossroad over the journey of a calendar year.

Whether entering the next grade up in elementary school, college, or somewhere in between, most children, teenagers, and young adults across the nation will be a slave to academia in the next month or so. Those three little words, "Back To School", are a gold rush for many stores (as I'm typing this, #VZWBack2School is trending on Twitter), but are treated like fool's gold for their target audience. Just the idea of shopping for new clothes and school supplies sounds like nails going across a chalkboard. Ah, the horror!

Surely, you must sympathize for those caught in this perpetual rut for yet another year. I mean, who in their right mind would trade in three months of relaxtion for nine months of grueling work on a whim? No one, that's who! And at this time of year, the mood has shifted from joyful innocence to a gradual discontent.

Every day from here on out is one day closer to that first day of school. Oh, sure, that's always been the case since school let out for summer, but no one (again) in their right mind would think about the forthcoming school year in May, or June, or the first half of July. But now that the second half is almost at a close, it'd be dumb not to think about learning anew.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Science Matter?

With scientific discoveries come an enhanced quality of human life and greater public interest from those findings. In the field of clinical pharmacology, for instance, scientists in this specialty have become trailblazers by developing better drug treatments. Over the last 50 years, their research vastly improved the efficiency of a drug's effect and duration in the body, measurements to track the progress of a given medication, and follow-ups to treat potential side effects [2]. Had it not been for their tireless efforts, many people who need medication today may either not be alive or still suffering from their ailments.

This is one instance why science is still held in high regard today, despite its lack of appropriate coverage in the media. According to the 2008 General Social Survey, more than 80% of Americans were "very" or "moderately" intrigued by current scientific discoveries [3]. Even though most people are not actively involved in scientific research, the preceding statistic shows that they're still curious to find out what is being uncovered. Science may not be interesting in America now as it was during the Cold War, but its efforts to find solutions to numerous, contemporary problems keeps science relevant.

However, for all its blessings, the bane of scientific discoveries means that people's livelihood will be subjected to greater threats than they could've foreseen. Some opponents of science claim that field of study to be "intrinsically evil" because its discoveries either permit unwarranted corruption or destruction with newfound scientific aid [4]. Indeed, scientific studies can be manipulated to sound beneficial, when in fact they are dangerous, possibly even fatal. For example, controversy arose in 2007 when the Food and Drug Administration kept Avandia, a pill for diabetics, on the market even though several studies found the drug caused adverse cardiac reactions in up to 43% of users compared to those who took placebos or similar medication [1]. A scientific discovery of this magnitude should've raised serious red flags and never been approved for treatment in the first place. Still, the FDA's insistence to keep the drug available shows the audacity one will do to sweep any malignant issues under the rug, especially when they stand to make a profit. As long as science continues to generate positive and negative implications with its findings, addressing its role in society will remain a checkered affair.

Ultimately, science matters because its results affect many facets of life, from fighting the common cold to fighting various types of cancer. This relationship between science and society is not an unrequited love affair; both need each other so the circle of life will keep moving forward. But, it's not just clinical pharmacology making a difference. Many fields, such as physics and ecology, play an important role in people's lives by offering applicable insight into the world they live in.

Most of the time, new findings corroborate or provide alternative explanations for falsifiable hypotheses as part of the scientific method. Other times, such discoveries are not pleasant to hear – like the Avandia case – and skeptics will subsequently excoriate anything related to science. Nonetheless, to reject every scientific finding would be as nearsighted as the Catholic Church once was when they thought Galileo's theory of a heliocentric universe was heresy. Simply put, without science, there is no progress.

(Academic) Works Cited
[1] Calabresi, Massimo and Alice Park. "After Avandia: Does the FDA Have a Drug Problem?" Time. 12 Aug. 2010. Web.

[2] Dollery, Colin Terence. "The Scientific Contribution of Clinical Pharmacology." European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 64 (2), 3 Jan. 2008. Pp. 99-106. Springer Berlin/Heidelberg. Web.

[3] "Information Sources, Interest, and Involvement." Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. National Science Board, Jan. 2010. Web.

[4] Siegfried, Tom. "Ease of Destruction Poisons Society's Affair with Science." Dallas Morning News 2 Mar. 1998: 7D. NewsBank. Web.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why Casey Anthony Is Better Off A Free Woman

Casey Anthony, the 25-year old Floridian mother who was found not guilty this past Tuesday in the death of her two-year old daughter, Caylee, was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday, July 7, 2011 for providing misleading information to police. But considering she's been incarcerated for roughly three years from the time of her initial arrest to her acquittal on a first degree murder charge (among others), the judge has ruled that she be released from the Orange County Jail on July 13 the following week. She was also ordered to pay $4,618 in various fines and costs related to her criminal trial.

Ever since her acquittal, Casey Anthony has received several deals to keep her name in the limelight, ranging from books, movies, and even pornography (though the latter offer was rescinded within hours of its proposal).

For most people, it's almost incomprehensible to believe that she'll walk away from prison practically unscathed. Okay, okay, she spent three formative years of her life away from the general public. But the rallying cry amongst the majority of American society has been one of injustice, that the punishment didn't fit the crime.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Did Media Scrutiny Acquit Casey Anthony?

At approximately 2:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, the fate of 25-year old Casey Marie Anthony was in the hands of twelve jurors in an Orlando, Florida courtroom. Casey Anthony stood trial for the murder of her two-year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony. Allegedly, Casey drugged Caylee with chloroform and suffocated her to death around mid-June 2008. In addition, Casey waited a month before reporting Caylee missing, during which time Caylee's body was stashed in Casey's car trunk (allegedly). Caylee's skeletal remains were later discovered in a wooded area in December 2008, and a subsequent autopsy ruled her death a homicide.

Initially, Casey Anthony was jailed for several misdemeanors, ranging from lying to police about her employment with Universal Studios, to obstruction of a criminal investigation, to forgery of checks and illicit use of a friend's credit card. That was in July and August 2008. But by mid-October of that year, she was formally indicted by a Florida grand jury of first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated child abuse, and four counts of providing misleading information to police. She pleaded not guilty to all charges. If she was found guilty, especially on the first degree murder charge, Casey Anthony likely would've been sentenced to death.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ten More Nights In Omaha: That Same Fan's Take Toward Back-To-Back Titles

"Line drive, right field, base hit! South Carolina wins the College World Series!"

With that statement by ESPN announcer Mike Patrick on June 29, 2010, the South Carolina Gamecocks closed out the final College World Series game at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, christening a new era for both the program and the Series.

As I explained earlier in Faulknerian prose, the whole athletic program at the University of South Carolina prior to the 2010 College World Series struggled mightily to win a major national championship, save the women's outdoor track & field team in 2002. And in the three big sports (football, men's basketball, and baseball), the Gamecocks had been close, closer, and closest to winning that elusive title, always falling short.

But on that endless summer night one year ago, the fortune of Gamecock athletics changed forever. In so doing, the pressure to come back to Omaha and win at a new stadium - TD Ameritrade Park - was enormous for head coach Ray Tanner and his team.

In the weeks before the 2010 College World Series ended, seven Gamecocks were taken in the MLB Draft, and three of them would go on to start their professional careers. They were senior starting pitcher Blake Cooper, junior starting pitcher Sam Dyson, and junior right fielder Whit Merrifield. All three played a critical role in putting the Gamecocks in position to win the school's first major men's athletic title. Cooper recorded ten strikeouts and allowed only three hits through eight and one-thirds innings in Game 1 of the final round against UCLA. Dyson pitched two quality starts that saw the Gamecocks win on both occasions to stave off elimination in Omaha. And of course, Merrifield became an instant Gamecock legend by driving home the championship winning run in Game 2 of the College World Series finals.

Even with their departures, the whole team was practically back in their bid to become the first team since the 2007 Oregon State Beavers to repeat as national champions in college baseball. Notable returnees included senior second baseman Scott Wingo, junior center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., junior starting pitcher Michael Roth, sophomore first baseman Christian Walker, and sophomore closer Matt Price. This team had no intentions to fall short of a return trip to Omaha, and their play on the field proved it.