Things that make you go ‘Gee, Whiz’

After the Supreme Court refused to hear a case against Wal-Mart, blogging and threats of a boycott actually did some good.   Debbie Shank, a former employee who was hit by a semi and suffered severe brain damage, was sued by Wal-mart for the costs of her medical care under their health plan.  Under this plan, Wal-mart has the right to do so if the insured employee wins damages from a lawsuit, which the Shanks won against the trucking company responsible for her accident.  Of course, in this case Wal-mart was legally allowed to take everything set up in the trust fund for Debbie’s continued care, rather than the larger amount that they lost due to her health plan.  While I remain undecided about universal health care, I think that this little legal loophole is something that should be eliminated.  The right to receive damages should not cost me my health insurance.  Most poignant however, was Mr. Shank’s comments to CNN upon receipt of a letter explaining that Wal-mart would not be recouping any of its expenses – he thought it was a 4/1 joke.  Because no department store giant in its right mind would be sympathetic to the plight of its lowly employees.  Especially an incapacitated one that cost it $470,000.

New research has been released regarding the development on ‘new’ hearts from old ones.  Of course, the studies have only been tested thus far in lab rats, but tests are moving to larger pig hearts as we speak.  And since pig hearts have been used to replace heart parts in humans, perhaps they’ll just stop there.  For the moment, I remain unconvinced.  The basic principles are unclear.  In the tests, they take a heart from a dead rat, clean it out with soap to sluff out all the cells on the inside, inject the heart with new cells from other lab rats which grow inside the heart casing, and finally teach the new cells how to beat using a pacemaker.  Some of the points of contention I have are as follows: are they injecting heart cells from multiple rats?  in the future, would they be injecting my cells alone into someone else’s heart?  wouldn’t that still require someone dead to supply the heart casing?  Have they successfully implanted these new hearts into a living rat without rejection of the tissue, or just taught it to beat?

Information on a 7-year old dig in the Andes of Peru released today included the earliest known find of a gold object from South America.  Archaeologists are excited not only because it’s something new, but because it may be the first, or one of the first physical markers of a transition from existence as hunter-gatherers to existence as a more regimented society which would eventually include kings.  And the necklace with gold beads is, in fact, beautiful.  And shiny.  I’m not so excited – it’s a materialistic shift I’m not exactly pleased with.  Things are status.  Gold is status.  Objects are the physical representation not just of our place in society.   They are not just the pen-and-ink of the scribe or the simple plow of the farmer or the loom of the weaver.  They are also, suddenly, the complete and total sharing of our worth to that society.

Gee.  Whiz.

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2 Comments

  1. Shannon said,

    April 2, 2008 at 10:26 am

    please never say/type the words “gee whiz” again. Unless rhyming them with “cheez whiz”. You are, in fact, NOT a housewife or young whippersnapper from the 1950’s.

    And you said I never comment on your blog.

  2. sedgehammer said,

    April 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

    This was marked as spam. I think they thought you were trying to sell meltable cheese food.


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