Tuesday, April 26, 2016

pull and relase

It's been a busy time lately. I haven't had the time to write nor read as much as I usually do. It's probably part of the reason why I'm feeling anxious and nervous - it's a stress response and when I feel boxed in and trapped, I feel stressed, loop continues. Hopefully this upcoming trip will take some of the edge off.

However, by personal and private reasons, the trip isn't all fun. It will be a walk on the thin line between sweet and bitter..... it coincides with an anniversary that part of me would like to forget, part of me cherishes as a great memory. It's just a little bittersweet. There were indeed so many hopes and dreams at that time, and so many things that didn't happen.

As "they" say though, all those inspirational quotes

"If you haven't any regrets you haven't lived"

I don't know about that but for a little while I will look at this inspirational poster and work my way out. Trying to be proud of accomplishments, keeping trust for people and keeping the dreams & hope alive.

I can't change the past, but I can make my future. (Another inspirational quote out there "the scars only tell where you have been, not where you are going". I've clearly read too many of those books lately). Although, I wouldn't be me if I didn't add something about glue and pieces and Humpty Dumpty...... ^^

Here's to me and my vacation leading to me coming out with a less stressy brain connections, guilt and more love in general. Here is to hope. And at least more sleep.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

sabretooth vs duckling*

In case you didn't know, 'its the season of NHL Stanley Cup playoffs! I usually write a blog post before the bracket time is closing but this year has been a little more stressful and I've not been as planning as I should/want to.

Anyhow, I'm a happy reader and commenter on this blog in Swedish: NHL-bloggen It's been the constant hockey happiness (and some more) since I moved to the States in 2006. It's an awesome place to drop comments about games going on and keeping contact with other hockey fans in Swedish. Usually the commentators during the season are fewer than during playoffs, but there's a group of very nice ones during the regular season. And as with twitter there are quite a few people that I've gotten to know, and even met up with! (There are some expats in the states - awesome opportunity to speak Swedish and watch hockey.)

Well, when I mentioned hockey play offs on twitter the other weekend some Canadian friends of mine piped up (@Enniscath, @Scientistmother, @_Lavaland_ ) and made a little joke about my preference for more than one team (hello @enniscath winner of the bet from two years ago!!). Part of this is probably because it's the second year ever that there are NO Canadian teams in the playoffs. I'm upset and sad about this too. Although, let's get this straight - I'm a Leafs girl through and through. The only reason I have a little piece of my heart for Canucks is that I lived in Vancouver for a while. And that they got the Sedin twins at that time. How can you not adopt a second team by then? As a Swede and a temporary resident, with loves on the east coast so it's not like it's a hard bargain. It's one game a year.... and my heart is always with leafs then.

To loop back to the beginning of this blog post; the bracket and the NHLblog in Swedish. I wrote a little explanation in Swedish on how I chose my bracket and I thought I'd translate it here since it does - at least for me - read a little funny. Of course, I tried the same approach telling my coworkers to pick a bracket even though they know nothing about hockey. "it's easy, just imagine the team animal vs each other. I mean, a PREDATOR (sabretooth) vs a DUCK? Who do you think wins?" (quite possible the duck in tihs example but anyway...)

"I get to look at the shirts in my wardrobe to pick the bracket and see what is left. Joke aside, it's difficult this year since my default setting isn't working this year, not without any Canadian team left. I'm torn about the Pens hype, but I do have a Kessel shirt with Leafs, so maybe that's the way to go?

For the West I'm choosing
Dallas - Minnesota brain says 4-2, heart says 3-4 since I want to use my Wildshirt**
Chicago - St Louis 4-3 would be fun if it wasn't Hawks but I doubt Blues can match the intensity of "winners the last couple of years"
Anaheim - Nashville 3-4 PURE heart. I want Preds to get more playoffs and crush that team I don't like at all. Oh, and then I can use my Preds tank top
Los Angeles - San José - 4-2 Stats tell me that Sharks is the best team on away ice... so maybe I should've dared write 3-4? 

Washington - Philadelphia 4-3 Think Flyers can add a few things when they're playing for one thing (their owner passed away Monday) emotions do play a role in the play offs
Pittsburgh - NY Rangers 4-2 KESSEL!!! :) ***
Florida - NY Islanders 4-2 Jagr! (don't have a shirt but hope and wish for Jagr to help the tea with his experience and all
Tampa Bay - Detroit 3-4 I believe in those persistent Wings and think they can go on by pure habit. Oh and yes, I do have a red shirt at home as well :)

All these bets I've made over the years.... 
Leafs (no bet, just loooooooove)
Canucks (no bet, just a little side love)
Habs - old school wager "leafs vs habs" series over a season and I lost....
Preds - it's a small tank top, perfect for Southern weather on a Sunday game in the heat
Detroit RedWings - "you got to pick a US team now that you live in the USA" RedWings had 13 swedes on the roster at that time. Easy choice. hm.
Minnesota Wilds (that was a promise to @mnjohan two years ago - already two years?!)

* Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks - yes, they are named after the Disney movie "Mighty ducks" it was a ploy to get a team there. I just don't like them. But I did love Temu Selänne - the great Finnish Flash.

** back in Minnesota two years ago just in time for the play offs and I was hanging out in a bar, late very late night.... and thought it would be a good choice to pick up a shirt from there.

*** Kessel is the only reason I would root for Pens. Oh wait, maybe the three great Swedes there as well...

Saturday, April 09, 2016

fetal tissue legislation - hypocrisy in progress

As you might know reading this blog, I'm a scientist. I'm also, which I think I've written about a couple of times, someone who has taken a bunch of philosophy classes (ethics, moral, medical genetics), CITI training on compliance, patient care and even a couple of religious studies. And I attend church, albeit lately fairly infrequently. I'm part of an "care team" who visits and sits with terminally ill, old people and their relatives.

I'm not saying all of this to win some sort of nomination. Nope. I'm stating all this since I want you as a reader to have a little more background than "she's a scientist" since this subject - the fetal tissue research and the pending legislature - is a morass in mixing "personal feelings" with "what's best for the human beings" and "what is moral". The more you read about it, the more you will realize that the issue at stake is hidden in a bunch of red herrings and that it makes it impossible to have a reasonable and intellectual argumentation about WHY or WHY NOT it should be allowed.

You might not know but the last couple of months (almost a year) has been a flurry of politicians sensing quick votes of approval by stating very obvious things that no one really would take the stand against. And a bunch of lies to further their own agenda.

I'm going to try and write this post as short and succinct as possible. It's mainly because this subject is so sensitive that I can't really discuss it with too many people around me, nor does it seem to matter. People want to make it simple and I'm simply not sure on how many people who really understand the complexity of the issue and why it's not quite as simple as how certain republican politicians are expressing themselves currently in the US Congress nor in the various state legislatures around the country.

First, here is a link to a Nature article that capture a bunch of arguments why the use of fetal tissue is important in science to find cures and understanding to a lot of diseases that affect us humans.

We could talk about "is there really a need for the use of fetal tissue". No one argues this is a simple matter. Just like the research of embryonic stem cells. No one says it's easy nor obvious moral to do. Religious or not, people do understand the ethics complications and why it's so important to have rules and regulations in place for this. It's important to vet the ideas and the notion of what is allowed and not. That's why all the committees, international and institutional, exist. To debate and bring to light ethical considerations and moral implications of advances in science and humanity. It's not "only religious people" who care about the human embryos and the potential implications on the human race. That's part of the red herrings coming from (mostly) religious anti-science people.

What you might ask, is it that I am upset about in this fetal tissue debate currently ongoing in the USA?

As you can see in this link from Washington Post, the transcript from the first Congressional hearing in the matter, the arguments brought forth for making it illegal to obtain fetal tissue for certain institutions are so very poor and insincere.

If it was truly about "not making it legal to do fetal tissue research" - a lot of what is being said wouldn't matter. Most of this debacle and grand standing stems from an outright lie - that was proven a lie in several state courts over the USA. It was deemed a lie by a court in Texas, and the fraud of the video was determined and convicted. In Texas, one of the strong holds of "we don't want any abortions". They determined it was a LIE. That same lie can apparently continue to be repeated and be the basis of pending legislature though. Planned Parenthood did not sell baby parts. They didn't sell fetal tissue. Nowhere was there a transaction of money between a woman going to have an abortion and an evil researcher waiting eagerly to "get their hands on baby parts". And to read the backgrounds of some of these suggested legislatures, there are quite a number of (evil&immoral) woman standing in line to time their abortions with the need of fetal tissue from even more immoral and evil researchers. I tell you, where these people are - I have no idea. (Apart from in some of these republican legislature heads that is.)

The whole argument makes me so angry & scared. Why scared you ask? Well, if it is one thing that I have learnt living in the American South - that's the abundance of guns and people who take action on their own. The protests outside of the clinic where I go to get my pap smear, the chants on how "I'm a baby killer" since I'm going into said clinic.... and knowing that more likely than not, some of those protesters have a gun. Yes, that scares me*. I'm only human.

However, what scares me even more is that there are politicians who are arguing that in order to debate this pending legislature "people should name names on who these researchers are" and drag them into open Congressional hearings. Again, I'm all for openness. Anyone who recieves NIH grant funding is named in public databases. However, if it's something that has been shown the last year it's that some politicians use a very strong (an sometimes even lying) language to endorse and rally their fan base to do violent and even illegal actions (hello Carly Fiorina). I'm sure we can all weep crocodile tears after some of these researchers, being called in front of congress to be called "baby part collectors and users" by rabid Republicans thus being in danger from people in the community where they live, are getting hurt.

It's not like anyone of these debates argue WHY it's relevant to study developing cells. Nor that anyone of these so called "moral values guardians" are facing the hypocrisy of claiming that it's acceptable to THREATEN with violence even though it's perfectly legal research going on. Now, that is what scares me the most.

As for the legislature discussion. I wish that more people could realize when arguments like this is being used (from the WashPo article mentioned above) and in regards to the testifying in front of the USA Congress):
Another witness, Patrick Lee of the Franciscan University of Steubenville,testified that not only is it “unjust for the government to fund or encourage elective abortions” and to allow the use of fetal tissue resulting from those abortions, but that women who have abortions should have no option to donate their fetus: “Women who choose to have direct abortions by that act forfeit the moral standing needed for being a proxy decision-maker in regard to the disposition of their baby’s remains. (my bold)

there is something seriously wrong with the process. Not to mention that it does NOTHING to the actual issue at hand - should fetal tissue research be legal or not. It makes the argument though that not only should certain (female) people be removed from a decision process, it also makes the focus of the debate to something that isn't even on the table.

The vote on the new legislature starts in Tennessee within the month. TN is the first state to vote that it should be illegal to transfer any type of money or value in order to receive tissue for research. And since in reality there are only a handful of clinics in the USA that actually collects these fetal tissue samples (California is one state that has clinics), this will be efficient stoppage of research. 13 more states are scheduled to vote for this within the coming three months. And of course, with the future election in the fall - don't be too surprised if it comes up again on a Federal level. Someone needs to think about the future children and the unborn.... (sarcasm, in case it isn't obvious). it's not like those scientist are thinking about the future, oh wait....

Next installment in the series "things that have been making me feel lately" will be "controlling women and teens by means of threat of violence". Yes, also touching abortions. And yes, also about lying and coercing by "moral people".

*I might be oversensitive but back in my undergraduate days, one of my fellow biology researchers got a letter sent home stating "this is the way your children go to school". The researcher used animal models and that wasn't liked by the local animal rights chapter. There were quite a few people thinking this was quite ok, considering the researchers being immoral. If people do that in regards to animal rights in Europe, what goes for the rights of the unborn in the south?