Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Quandary in Sweden: Criminals in Med School

Few articles have made me more irate than the one I recently read in the New York Times about a Swedish convicted murderer who is currently attending medical school. My main gripe is that this student, who falsified his academic records, took the place of someone who is much more worthy and capable of becoming a medical doctor than he is. This article fails to highlight that only 3% of students who apply to medical school in Sweden are accepted, and this ex-con should not be one of the lucky few. I appreciated many of the comments that New York Times' readers shared, but the question here is not whether a convicted felon should be permitted to practice medicine, rather, the question is whether a taxpayer funded university should admit a completely unqualified applicant who also has a serious criminal record.

Friday, March 20, 2009

EllisIsland.org

I've been spending a significant amount of time lately working on my newest venture, MyTwoCensus.com, and that has inevitably brought the issue of immigration to mind quite frequently. For some reason, today I was compelled to visit EllisIsland.org and try to track down some relatives. I got my grandparents on the phone, live from Florida, and they spit out as many names as they could think of. Though there were several misspellings in the passenger manifests (after all, as Bill Bryson points out in his book Made in America, most of the people who worked at Ellis Island collecting data were recent immigrants themselves), I was still able to track down nearly every family member I sought. Who would have guessed that my passions for olive oil, wine, and seafood were in my genes? Apparently, Bitonto, Italy and Palo del Colle, Italy (two small villages a few miles from Bari on the Adriatic Sea) were where my ancestors emigrated from around the turn of the 20th Century? Some relatives were even listed multiple times, because they made trips to Italy to watch over business holdings, and then came back to America. As my grandpa put it, "Anyone with ten cents in his pocket could get on a ship in those days." I'm a history buff, so the site is pretty cool, especially because I liked viewing the info. about the specific ships that relatives came on. For instance, my great grandpa came to America on this ship:

Built for Inman & International Steamship Company, in 1889 and named City of Paris. Liverpool-New York service. World’s fastest ship 1889-92. Sold to American Line, in 1893 and renamed Paris. Southampton-New York service. Renamed USS Yale in 1898. Returned to American Line, in 1898 and reverted to Paris. Renamed Philadelphia in 1899. Renamed Harrisburg in 1917. Carried troops and supplies to Europe and then returned troops service. Known as USS Harrisburg. Returned to American Line, in 1919 and reverted to Philadelphia. Laid up 1920-22. Sold to New York-Naples Steamship Company, American flag, in 1922. New York-Naples service. Mutiny on first voyage and ship laid up at Naples. Scrapped as Genoa in 1923.


*On an unrelated sad economic note, the place where I won quizzo last week, SF's Valley Tavern, has discontinued quizzo, effective immediately. Shucks.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Would it be the same for you and me? Probably not.

For the past 24 hours, news of NFL players becoming lost in a boating accident off the Florida coast has dominated headlines. But I wonder if a group of teachers, or nurses, or social services workers found themselves in the same situation, would the Coast Guard make such a grand effort to find them? Would this story dominate the media? Probably not.

America has assigned a high status to certain individuals that has even affected how taxpayer money is spent. For example, when John F. Kennedy Jr.'s private plane went down in 1999, President Clinton assigned dozens of U.S. Navy aircraft and vessels to comb a large area of New England waters in a search and rescue effort, spending many millions of dollars, even though Kennedy was merely a private citizen. If an American serviceman fell overboard from a ship, you can be sure that the nation would spend a fraction only a fraction of the cost of the Kennedy search to find him.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Death of the mainstream media...

In the past week, America has learned of the sudden collapse of many forms of mainstream media. While I lament this, I believe that mainstream news sources have been digging their own graves in one specific aspect of their coverage: Profiles of individuals who have been adversely affected by the current recession.

If I read another story about a family with 9 kids whose sole income provider was laid off from his job at a tool manufacturing plant, and then found a part-time work as a janitor, only to be laid off again, I think I'll blow my top.

These stories all take for granted that every individual who is laid off is a not only an excellent worker, but also an excellent human being. Even when the economy is great, people get fired for not performing at certain levels and laid off when their jobs are made redundant. Do journalists acknowledge that prior to the "downturn," some unqualified people were being grossly overpaid at their jobs? Not in any article that I've read.

I know what you're thinking: Was there one article that caused this outlandish outburst from me? Absolutely. Here it is, today's #1 most e-mailed article from the New York Times.