Jenn's Sober and Bender picks for 2007

posted December 31, 2007 by Jenn

JennMy nominee for this year's Sober award goes to health and science discoveries that defy conventional knowledge. It takes brass to publicly defy convention and sometimes that's just what you have to do to encourage people to look at things more closely to allow them to make better decisions. No one said they HAD to make those decisions, but at least if they make a bad decision, it's no one's fault but their own. Some of the interesting findings and convention-snubbing discoveries of the year are as follows: diet soda can contribute to weight gain; anger can help you make better choices; TV made for babies can stunt their intellectual development; the appendix has a function; drugs (cocaine, pot and caffeine among others) can be detected in the air where they were used long afterwards. So! How many of these were you counting on? The most interesting one I thought was the discovery that the appendix does actually do something in the human body. They'd found that it serves as a reservoir and protects the good gut bacteria when the rest of your gut is overrun with bad bacteria. Basically, when you've got the runs, it makes sure you have a good supply of good guys after everything else has been cleaned out. Quite handy, that. The discovery I laughed at the most was the bit about TV shows for babies actually doing the reverse of what they're intended to do. I found it hilarious because it seems like there's a consensus about kids watching TV: watch too much and you'll rot your brain, so to speak. I wonder why that mantra wasn't applied to kids even younger than that. Hmm, who knows… My nominee for this years Bender award is the Economy. This year has been a steady stream of bad news from the financial sector ranging from tainted imports to crap for housing prices. It would be quick and easy and satisfying on some level to just blame Bush for it. After all, the man's and his administration aren't known for making the best financial decisions for nearly 7 years running. (To be fair, the congress we just put together last year isn't really doing much better, but I digress...) Bush's repeatedly and sometimes rabidly vetoes any bills that contain spending that would lead to economic returns over time while demanding more and more money for the financial black hole that is his pet project, read: war. That's not helping our economy at all, but there are many more things that have little to do with Bush that make it worth a Bender. One major kink this year was the realization that many of China's products aren't up to our standards, be it a lead paint issue or a poisonous foodstuff issue. My surprise is that the market was so surprised by this. All these recalls, lead paint lists, wheat gluten in pet food, god knows what in seafood and animal by-products... China is run by the type of government who would keep the best base products for its people and ship the rest out as the export. If one keeps an eye on issues that the Chinese people are having with the products that are produced and kept in the country (phony pharmaceuticals, for example), then how high a standard should one expect to find in their products that are sent to countries they fundamentally have a problem with (Yes, I know China is a US ally but that's only on paper, less often in practice)? Another major kink in this year's economy is the whole housing/sub-prime lending debauchle. Here's a situation that never should have happened but did primarily because of greed. The sub-prime lending boom in 2005 and 2006 saw a lot of people getting into houses who would normally not be able to financially. However, a lot of those loans have a lot is strings attached and if you didn't read carefully or have an independent party explain what all the terms meant, you would find yourself financially trapped in this loan. If you're working in fast food, you can NOT afford a $450K home. The 1.9% interest rate and $600/mo payments would not last forever. And these lenders had the gall to push these loans to people, knowing these people would end up having to pay off on housing alone more than they would bring in altogether. End result? Foreclosures, which force people out of homes, force banks to liquidate, and affect the credit abilities of both the people caught up in this and the banks. The people's credit is ruined and the banks don't trust lenders as much, which makes it harder for all lenders to get a loan, which stalls the purchase of things like homes and other very large ticket items, which stalls a whole sector of the economy, which puts a choke on the people who work in that field, which slows spending because they aren't making as much, which drags down businesses… I could go on. Yeah, the economy sucked a LOT this year… and remember, a good year for you doesn't mean it was a good year for the nation.