Sunday, December 13, 2009

Did You See That?!?!?!

            One particular blog post that caught my eye was one about UFO’s, which was written by Pakou Thao. I honestly have never put much thought to this subject, but when I did stop and think about it, I was somewhat undecided.

            My realistic, scientific, not wanting to be called crazy, side tells me that there is no way that a life form that advanced could possibly exist in our solar system. It took eons and eons for just the simplest life forms to develop. To this day there has been no concrete evidence to support that aliens do exist and are thriving on another planet. Steve Mizrach, of Florida International University, explains how the media has brought about the hype of UFOs. He believes that UFOs are now just a part of our culture and will really never go away, but they should not be regarded as factual or real. I agree with what he is saying, with TV and especially the Internet, news of UFO sightings can span the globe in a matter of minutes. Whether it’s for the attention or the person honestly think they saw a UFO, the pressure of our culture definitely plays a big factor in the number of UFO sightings.

Now in saying all of that, I can believe that there are some forms of life out there. On Mars there could be a very primitive form of a potential cell of a bacterium. This could someday develop into human-like beings, unless humans interfere and totally screw them up. The facts behind UFO’s just won’t let my mind believe that there are such things as advanced as humans out there.

            So in a way I do agree with P.K. in the fact that there could be very simple life forms out there on other planets, however I do not believe that there are anywhere near as advanced life forms as humans. The probability is just too small and there is no evidence to support the thought. 

A Final Look At Healthcare in America

The debate over healthcare is quite controversial and Americans can’t seem to find a solution that the majority agrees with. Honestly the solution, that I think is the best, is universal healthcare. Money is a huge factor in this debate and as sad as it may seem, I believe it’s the factor that American citizens weigh the most in their decision. On average the government and insurance companies charge an uninsured citizen $1,103 each year. On the flip side, they charge insured Americans $3,809 each year, making the costs of health care three times larger for the insured versus the uninsured (Kang, 2009). Obviously by doing this insured Americans are having more of their hard earned money taken away because of something that is almost entirely out of their hands.

  Of course there is always an opposition to any argument. People not in favor of a universal healthcare system say that nothing is free; Americans would just be paying for this new system through taxes, instead of their insurance premiums (Wilensky, 2009). Statistics do show that industrialized countries that do have a universal healthcare system do have higher income taxes than the US. These statistics were given in 2009 by Marcia Clemmitt portraying the percent of income tax for each country: US 28.3%, Canada 33.3%, Germany 36.2%, England 36.3%, and France 43.6%. By these numbers countries pay a higher income tax as compared to countries without a universal healthcare system, but what these numbers don’t show is the amount of income spent on healthcare, which would be very interesting to see (Clemmitt, 2009).

Please help the passing of universal healthcare in the United States. One thing people can do is contact their local government officials. A few people you can contact in the Madison and Wisconsin area are:


Mayor of Madison

Dave Ceislewicz


210 MLK, Jr. Blvd.

Room 403,

City-County Bldg.

Madison, WI  53703-3342

 Wisconsin Senators 

Russell Feingold


506 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510


Herb Kohl


330 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Celebrity Endorsement

            The celebrity endorsement I chose to look at was Reese Witherspoon, supporting Avon Cosmetics. This is probably one of the more intense or serious endorsements. Avon went so far as to name Witherspoon its “Global Ambassador” in 2007. Usually celebrity endorsements are simply an athlete, actor, or some other well-known person, doing a TV commercial or two. Few companies have given their endorsers a title with the endorsement. Obviously there are some tasks and goals that Reese Witherspoon must meet to maintain her “status”.

            Honestly I think Reese Witherspoon is a very appropriate candidate for an endorser, in some sense. She has probably used Avon’s products before and knows how well they work. From this viewpoint, a customer, Witherspoon would be as knowledgeable as any other consumer. She is well known and people would respect her opinion, so I think people would take her recommendations into consideration. One aspect that Reese Witherspoon might not be as well informed on is the medical part of this product. She might not know or understand the good or bad health affects of Avon merchandise. Only doctors or health professionals would know enough about the subject to inform the public properly. That being said, in some sense Witherspoon is completely qualified to endorse this product, but in other aspects she might not be qualified enough to be telling people about the product.

            I think this type of endorsement will have the desired affect. People who would buy this product are most likely woman and Reese Witherspoon is a very respectable woman in the media. She is a mother, wholesome actress, and supports good-hearted organizations. I honestly think many woman respect her opinion over many other well known actresses or athletes. When people see her on TV or at press conferences, supporting this product, I think they will trust her judgment. 

Universal Healthcare?

            The topic I decided to take a closer look at was healthcare in America, specifically universal healthcare. The first article I chose to read was “Obama’s Health Care Quackery” by Shikha Dalmia. She was opposed to the idea of universal healthcare. The second one was in favor of the topic, “Healthcare Reform” by Marcia Clemmitt. I would say I have to agree with the second article more than the first. Dalmia just gave her opinions about the subject and was saying what she thought President Obama should do. She had some concrete facts, but none that really were that convincing. “Healthcare Reform” by Marcia Clemmitt used a lot of very persuasive facts and statistics. She used numerous graphs and tables to support her claim. Don’t get me wrong Clemmitt definitely put in her own opinions, but she defended her claim with facts.

            Honestly my opinion hasn’t changed after reading these two articles. Before I had read either of the periodicals I thought universal healthcare was the best option for this country. My opinion probably didn’t change because the opposing viewpoint, to my own, didn’t develop a good enough or persuasive enough argument to convince me otherwise. Not enough facts or evidence were provided to disprove my thoughts.

One argument that neither of these articles really brings up is the argument of preventive medicine. The side for universal healthcare would make a case that by establishing universal healthcare people will go to the doctor before their health problem gets too costly. People will go to the doctor sooner because it won’t cost them any money to make an appointment or even have a procedure done, unlike our current healthcare system where it could cost them a ridiculous amount of money to have a doctor’s appointment or have a small procedure done. The side opposing would say that by making everything free, people would take advantage or the system and over use drugs or have unnecessary procedures done. As most people can tell there are many arguments that don’t have black and white answers. This is why this is such a tough issue because there is no easy or clear-cut solution.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Carepackage Demonstration Speech

The demonstration speech I gave was on making a care package for a college student. I thought my demonstration was very relevant to the class because, as explained in my speech, my audience was all college students and they all probably have friends that go to different colleges and want to send them a little something to remind them of home. While watching me speech I noticed a few things that I did not do well. My body language wasn’t very good or appealing to my audience because I swayed a lot. Also I did not have much eye contact with the audience. I was often looking at my paper or visual aids I had placed out. I would say that I had a bad delivery overall, which brought down the effectiveness of my speech. Some things I did okay were my volume and pace. I could always hear and understand what I was saying. I also did have hints of enthusiasm here and there, but not enough to keep the audience interested. The main things I did well involved my content and visual aids. I explained my purpose well in the introduction. The information was good and I presented the steps in a logical order. However my conclusion was a little rushed, probably because I was so nervous. My visual worked very well with my speech because then I could show how to exactly pack a care package. Overall my effectiveness was not very good. There was little to no interaction with my audience. I think my effectiveness could have been a lot better if my delivery would have been stronger. That was the biggest downfall to my speech. If I could have relaxed more and not have been so nervous, I think my speech could have gone a lot better.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Healthy Neighborhoods Are Surrounded By Healthy Choices

The article I chose was “Availability of fresh food, exercise linked to healthy living” by Stephanie Hemphill. One really interesting point that this article brought up was there are nearly twice as many fast food restaurants in black neighborhoods as compared to white neighborhoods. I was shocked that there were that there was that big of a difference in ratios when it comes to race. This obviously also has to do with income level because white neighborhoods will tend to have a higher income than a black neighborhood. Another point that was brought up was that the availability to exercise greatly affects the health of the community. When they brought up this point I was expecting them to talk about how cities have more gyms or workout facilities, so those people would be more in shape. However this article makes the argument that neighborhoods with more bike paths and hiking trails will likely have better exercise opportunities for its occupants. This actually does make quite clear sense to me because people who can enjoy their exercise while biking or hiking and enjoying nature will likely exercise more, versus someone who just runs monotonously on a treadmill for a hour or so.

            An article that relates to this above article “Healthy neighborhoods can reduce the risk of diabetes” by Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana. Obviously diabetes is a huge health concern with our society. This type of disease can cause life-long problems. This article strongly agrees with the point the original periodical is trying to make. Dr. Laufer-Cahana agrees that better food choices (less fast food and more supermarkets) causes a healthier overall lifestyle. If people really think about it this makes complete sense. I would like to say most people would choose the healthier choice if it was as convenient as the less healthy choice; however it often takes about a half hour or more to cook a healthy meal, while an unhealthy meal is only five minutes away. It’s up Americans to decide which is more valuable, their health or their time. 

Does Benecol Really Lower Cholesterol?

When first hearing about the product Benecol, which is a type of margarine aimed at lowering cholesterol, I was very skeptical of it. I never thought it would work, because how can changing one tiny part of your diet change your cholesterol level that much. Being as skeptical as I was, I went on the do some research to see what the experts say about Benecol.

The first article I found on this product was one by Beth Brophy and David Schardt from Nutrition Action: Health Letter. They looked through the case studies and decided that this product did help lower cholesterol by about ten percent, but there were still some unanswered health questions to be answered. This article is still unconvinced about the products safeness, but thinks that it has been much better tested then other foods and thinks it’s fine to use as a supplement to margarine, 

Another article I read was one from the  New York Times. This source once again agreed that Benecol was proven to lower cholesterol to some extent, but there could potentially be some serious health risks going along with it. The New York Times thinks the health risks greatly outweigh the health benefits so they do not recommend using this product in your daily life or at all for that matter.

Honestly I think this product has been proven to lower cholesterol, but more importantly it has not been proven to be safe. In saying this I would not recommend this product to anyone. I think there are much better alternatives to lowering a person’s cholesterol. They could exercise more, eat less fatty foods, or take some form of medication. Obviously all of these things have their own inconveniences and aren’t as simple as changing the type of margarine you use, but I would much rather take the safer, more inconvenient path, than the more convenient less safe path. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blog #3

The meal I decided to prepare for myself was breakfast, which consisted of a bowl of cereal, an apple, and a glass of orange juice. I purchased my cereal, which was Cheerios, the milk, and the orange juice from the local convenience store by my dorm, Carson’s. I got the plastic, disposable bowl, glass, and spoon from a store, Pick N’ Save, near my hometown. To prepare the meal I gathered the bowl, spoon, and glass and set them on my dresser. Then I went to the refrigerator and got a half-gallon of milk, jug of orange juice, and an apple. I retrieved my cereal from a bin under my bed. I poured the cereal in the bowl, followed by the milk, then poured the orange juice in the glass and set the apple in a napkin. I ate and drank everything and disposed of the utensils in the garbage.

Actually I almost completely agree with Michael Pollan’s thoughts when it comes to how American’s eat. I have been raised in a world where we take twenty minutes to eat a meal, tops. We eat in between soccer and basketball practice and rarely sit down as a family to eat together. We eat at our convenience. Since meals are often eaten on the go, they aren’t always prepared in the healthiest way (a.k.a. fast food). Last spring when I traveled to England, every time I ate dinner at a restaurant it would take at least two hours. I felt like it was taking the staff ages to get me my food, but everyone else around me was completely calm, like it was normal for service at a restaurant to take this long. It is normal for Europeans and people of other nations to take two hours to eat a meal, which makes me wonder how they have time for anything else in their lives. However David E. Williams of CNN News disagrees with Pollan and myself. He thinks people are eating at home just as much as they were a decade ago and that isn’t that big of a problem with our dietary issues.

My opinion still hasn’t changed by the meal I prepared for myself. I will be the first to admit that I don’t the healthiest food and that I don’t eat it at a slow, manageable pace, but I feel that is what our world is coming to. A busier and busier society so there is less time to just relax, sit, and eat. I hope in the next coming years, Americans will realize that we need to slow down and actually eat and savor our food instead of inhaling it. 

Blog #2

One food that I have eaten in its real form is pasta noodles. Now I mostly eat processed noodles that come in a box at the grocery store. The real pasta noodles were darker, more of a golden color, as opposed to the chalky color they have if someone would purchase them at the grocery store. The smell is hard to tell because all of the noodles I have eaten (real or fake) have been heavily covered in sauces, so that overpowered the noodle smell. The real pasta noodles had a more rich taste, as opposed to the bland taste of “box” noodles.

            The real food does have some nutrients in it, such as, protein, carbohydrate fiber and, fat. The “fake” pasta has nowhere near the amount of nutrients as the “real” pasta though. It merely has carbohydrates and possibly a little fiber. Obviously the real version of a food is going to be a lot more nutritious for you than the “fake” version. Dr. Leslie Van Romer explains this in her article “Real Food or Fake Food”. I agree with her completely that processed foods have lost most of their valuable nutrients and that they aren’t necessarily unhealthy for you, they are just not as healthy as the real version.

I switched to the “fake” version for my grandmother’s convenience. It was too time consuming for her to make homemade noodles like that all the time. I believe I was around six or seven when she stopped making them.

I will probably not eat the real version of this food, routinely, in the future, unless my grandma starts making them again. I really don’t know the process and I know it takes a lot of time and I am just not willing to commit that to making pasta, so I think I will just stick with the old “box noodles”. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Michael Pollan Talk

            The format of the event was a formal speech given by Michael Pollan, with multiple introductions. There wasn’t exactly a lot of audience interaction. People clapped and hooted if they liked what Pollan said, but there wasn’t much room for questions. The general content of the presentation was a discussion on Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. All most of Pollan’s facts were backed up by expert opinion, which was usually his own, statistics, and scientific evidence by other experts.

            I actually agree with most of the points Pollan made in his presentation and in his book. One smaller point he made in his presentation was that things labeled “health foods” probably aren’t real foods. This makes complete sense to me because if something is modified to make the food healthier, then it probably wasn’t a natural process. If a food isn’t produced by natural process then it really isn’t food.

            I also agree with the point Pollan made when he said that we really don’t eat for pleasure or community anymore. We eat to satisfy our hunger and that’s about it. People in our society rarely sit down to eat as a family or community to talk about important issues or daily occurrences. People in our society maybe take ten or fifteen minutes to eat, while other countries, such as in Europe, take one to two hours to eat. They do this to share the events of their day and discuss significant issues regarding their lives. I feel like we do need to go back to this way of eating to bring back other importances of eating besides satisfying our hunger. 

            Another point I agree with when it comes to Pollan’s talk is the point he made about shopping only at the edges of the grocery store, which is where all of the grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products are located. All of these products are what we need in our diet, and our diets should be limited to those products. Of course we can deviate from these food groups every once in a while, but we should try and stick with the basics.

            One thing I can’t get past with this whole argument is why it matters so much what we eat. I think humans are smart enough to make their own decisions on what they want to eat and they don’t need people preaching to them all the time and harping over them about what to eat. We need to educate the public as much as we can about what they are eating and then let them make the decision. If someone wants to choose to eat a McDonald’s hamburger then let them. In making this decision they might work out an extra half hour at the gym to compensate for that unhealthy hamburger. All in all I think we are all smart enough to make our own decisions when it comes to food and everyone should stop trying to impose their ideas on other people.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blog #1

            So far in the book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan has basically shot down almost every idea that I and most of America, has thought to be true of food. Pollan, at least so far, has challenged many well-believed tales and tricks about food and good health. One in particular is that products that say they are healthy usually aren’t. He claims that if food is labeled as a health “product”, that’s usually what it is, a product, not food, which is what you want to put into your body. I would have to say I mostly agree with this claim. It’s like a selling point for food products. If I were the manufacturer of a processed food product, not very healthy because it’s processed, but not necessarily bad for a person either, I would try to tie as much health points to it as possible because that’s what our society is obsessed with today. The fact that a product says its healthy will basically sell itself. Another interesting point Pollan brings up is the idea that vitamins really aren’t that beneficial to a person’s health. The thing that is helping our bodies grow strong is when the vitamins are eaten as food. An article from the New York Times called “Vitamin Pills: A False Hope?” by Tara Parker-Pope, also argues this point. In this article Parker-Pope claims that there have been numerous studies over the past decade and most of them have shown that there was no significant change in the subject’s health that took vitamins versus ones who didn’t. I must say I completely agree with Pollan and Parker-Pope. I think that the reason for vitamins is so a person’s body can get nutrients that the body can’t make on its own. As Parker-Pope states in her article, “But a balanced diet typically provides an adequate level of these nutrients,” I completely agree and so does Pollan. If people would just eat a healthy diet of FOOD, and not try to supplement their under-nutrient diet, with vitamins and heath products, I think we all would be a little better off.