You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘politics’ category.
Can you imagine puberty occurring at around the age of 6, or even younger?
Puberty is the inevitable rite of passage that everyone will go through. There are changes in shape and mood, in appearance and outlook. Its onset at around age 10 or 11, and continuation into one’s mid-teens is considered normal, with most processes wrapping up by the time high school graduation rolls around.
Early onset of puberty in girls is starting to become the new norm, and has been profiled in a recent New York Times article. Girls as young as 4 or 5 have been sprouting pubic hair and demonstrating signs of budding. At that age, most children are barely capable of putting on clothes by themselves. They are only starting to learn how to navigate their way around their social circles, and falling into the routine of school, play, and homework.
Ladies, can you imagine having to contend with the mood swings and physical changes while dealing with the mean little girls who pull your hair and call you names. Can you imagine dealing with all of that while the boys still are considered “icky” and have “cooties?”
The risks are not surprising. There is a higher risk of drinking, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors. The question is, how do we protect our girls?
While there are some means of slowing down these changes through pharmacological means, preventing early onset altogether is probably the best approach. There are several potential causes, among them family problems/stress, obesity, and exogenous hormones/xenoestrogenic compounds. While the first two causes can be controlled to some extent, the last one is not necessarily something that can be controlled by the average consumer.
Hormones are chemical compounds that are produced in one site (endocrine gland) and are transported to other target sites via the blood. We are exposed to hormones through our food supply, at least in cattle, where hormones are sometimes given to boost growth. Xenoestrogens (literally foreign estrogens) are compounds that occur outside of the human body, but mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. Many plastics can be sources of xenoestrogens, notably ones that contain a substance called bisphenol A (BPA). A Twitter follower directed my attention to her blog post, which is a wonderfully informative piece on the role these hormones/hormone mimics may be playing. While some measures have been taken on the part of states and select companies to eliminate BPA from their products, it remains a ubiquitous substance, and it is believed that well over 90% of the U.S. population has at least trace amounts of BPA in their bodies. In the New York Times article, Frank Biro (a researcher in the field) believes that based on existing data that demonstrates that endogenous estradiol levels are very low in girls with early breast growth, nonovarian sources of estrogen are likely the culprit. Perhaps these could be estrogen/estrogen-like chemicals occurring outside of the body.
Research demonstrates that many xenoestrogens, including BPA, are active at nanomolar/picomolar concentrations (1). In rats, early exposure to BPA has been correlated with an early onset of puberty, as well as increased problems with fertility, including a condition resembling polycystic ovarian syndrome (2-3). One of the mechanisms of BPA’s xenoestrogenic activity was demonstrated in non-human primate endometrial cells, where BPA co-administered with estradiol decreased the expression of endometrial progesterone receptors (4). The presence of many endocrine-disrupting compounds has been discovered in the urine of young girls, and a correlation between prenatal BPA exposure and behavioral problems among girls has been shown, though the latter results should be taken with a grain of salt given the modest sample size (5,6). Nonetheless, the fact that any correlation was shown is cause for concern at the very least, and warrants further study.
According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, after lobbyists from the plastics industry met with officials in the Obama administration in early 2010, BPA was left out of an Environmental Protection Agency action plan drawn up to regulate chemicals identified as dangerous. Recent efforts to regulate or ban endocrine-disruptors such as BPA, or research endocrine-disrupting chemicals have stalled at different stages:
1. In the 111th Congress, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sponsored bill S.753.IS, called the “BPA-Free Kids Act of 2009.” It died in the Senate.
2. The same bill was sponsored in the House (H.R.4456.IH) by former Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY). It died in the House.
3. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) sponsored the “Environmental Hormone Disruption Research Act of 2009″ (H.R.4160.IH). It died in the House.
4. The “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011″ was introduced in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). It has yet to be referred to committee.
5. As of January 25, 2011, the “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011″ that was introduced in the House by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has been referred to committee, but nothing has transpired since then.
The apathetic attitude of the government towards endocrine-disrupting agents can only spell disaster for future generations. Though research to date does strongly suggest that these are dangerous substances that can cause dramatic effects in the way the body functions, more research is needed to further understand how they may be affecting normal development. This necessitates government support. The fact that many politicians appear far more passionate about regulating women’s health rights, rather than protecting our children from a very real public health threat, is appalling and a sign that our priorities need serious rethinking.
I hope that things change. I hope that politicians will realize that addressing public health issues should always trump entertaining the whims of corporations. I hope that the government won’t continue to bow to pressure from industry lobbyists, and will eventually recognize the danger of these substances and pass the appropriate legislation to fund research and ban them from commonly-used products. If I have daughters, I want them to grow up in a world I know is safe, so that they can enjoy being girls, and won’t start the trek towards womanhood at the behest of foreign chemicals, but when they are good and ready.
1. Wozniak AL, Bulayeva NN, and Watson CS. Xenoestrogens at Picomolar to Nanomolar Concentrations Trigger Membrane Estrogen Receptor-α–Mediated Ca2+ Fluxes and Prolactin Release in GH3/B6 Pituitary Tumor Cells. Environ Health Perspect. 2005; 113(4): 431–439.
2. Fernández M, Bourguignon N, Lux-Lantos V, Libertun C. Neonatal Exposure to Bisphenol A and Reproductive and Endocrine Alterations Resembling the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in Adult Rats. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118(9): 1217–1222.
3. Nah WH, Park MJ, Gye MC. Effects of early prepubertal exposure to bisphenol A on the onset of puberty, ovarian weights, and estrous cycle in female mice. Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2011;38(2): 75–81.
4. Aldad TA, Rahmani B, Leranth C, Taylor HS. Bisphenol-A exposure alters endometrial progesterone receptor expression in the nonhuman primate. Fertil Steril. 2011;96(1):175-179.
5. Wolff MS, Teitelbaum SL, Windham G, Pinney SM, Britton JA, Chelimo C, Godbold J, Biro F, Kushi LH, Pfeiffer CM, Calafat AM. Pilot Study of Urinary Biomarkers of Phytoestrogens, Phthalates, and Phenols in Girls. Environ Health Perspect. 2007;115(1):116-21.
6. Braun JM, Kalkbrenner AE, Calafat AM, Yolton K, Ye X, Dietrich KN, Lanphear BP. Impact of Early-Life Bisphenol A Exposure on Behavior and Executive Function in Children. Pediatrics. 2011;128(5):873-882.
I feel like I’ve written or told this story a hundred times before. I’m not even sure if it made out into some tangible form, or if I replayed the events in my head from time to time over the last decade. Every passing September makes my heart ache. I was thankfully not directly affected by the tragedy that day, but it affected me nonetheless.
I remember that September 11, 2001 had started off as a bright day. Bright enough to coax me out of bed, and out of the house, on my way to high school. It was only the second week; classes had not yet lost their novelty. The first two classes passed unremarkably. Even if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to remember what those classes were. My third class, though, I will never forget.
It was science research, a class devoted to introducing students to lab techniques and research skills. It was a little past 9:40 AM, and several of us were gathered around the desk to the far corner of the room, talking about whatever high school sophomores talk about. One of the girls came running in a little after class started, and exclaimed that planes had hit the World Trade Center. She was someone who had a tendency to be a little silly, if not outlandish, and so I didn’t believe her at first. Who would want to? It was when the wood shop teacher walked in from next door, solemn and silent, that we realized that something indeed was wrong.
We were shepherded into his classroom, where a TV had been wheeled in, blaring the news. There we stood or sat, transfixed, watching smoke billow out from the angry, blazing gashes that had torn through each World Trade Center tower. I remember some students crying, some were talking out loud. Others were anxiously calling their parents who worked at or near the World Trade Center. I don’t remember what I felt exactly, probably because at that moment, I felt empty. I had no idea how to react, because what had happened was so beyond the scope of what was possible, that my mind and body were blindsided. I watched, as though in a trance, as the smoke continued to pour out, and the voices of the news anchors danced nervously around, unsure quite how to react themselves. Gone was the notion that the United States was, somehow, impervious to outside forces. Wars were supposed to be few and far between, fought oceans away, not in my own backyard. Any impression of peace and stability was quickly and mercilessly eviscerated.
I remember that a good friend of mine was sitting next to me, palpably frightened, though perhaps only comforted by the fact that she had discovered that her mother was not in harm’s way. We were sitting together when, at 9:59 AM, the South Tower began to collapse. Forever etched into my memory is the sound of the small scream that escaped my friend’s lips at the moment the roar of the flames and the crunching sound of failing structural beams became one, as everything screamed towards street level. For me, that was the sound that marked the boundary between what once was, and what is now. Innocence, and innocence lost. The start of a terrible new chapter, but everyone was too frightened to willingly turn the page.
I remember that when I left the school that day and looked west, the sky was now covered with a faint, gray haze. “Smoke from the Twin Towers, most likely,” said a friend of mine.
Later that night, I remember sitting on my bed, thinking about the the day’s events, and of what happens now. I was thinking about the thousands upon thousands of bodies scattered throughout the site: some dead, some barely clinging on, and the rest working to save them. Death was not something I was familiar with, let alone on such a scale and in such close proximity. That was the first time that I openly wept that day.
I was scared, not only for future attacks from beyond our borders, but attacks from within. Hate crimes had started almost as soon as word had gotten out that the terrorists were mostly Arab Muslims. Anyone who looked potentially Arab and/or Muslim was a target, including my family, my friends, and me. I heard stories about not only Muslims, but Sikhs and Hindus being taunted, beaten up, and in some cases, gunned down. All paid the pound of flesh that they did not owe. While the incidence of those crimes died down almost as quickly as they had appeared, the simmering anger against Muslims was still present.
Ten years later…
Ten years later, Osama is dead, along with thousands of people with terrorist leanings. So is Saddam, and hundreds of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians. So are thousands of US soldiers.
Ten years later, Muslims (and to some extent many South Asians) are still vilified. Every opportunity to throw stones seems to be taken by people who don’t understand that the sins of the few should not fall on the shoulders of the whole group, and that just because the color of our skin is the same as another group, doesn’t mean we are the same. If you don’t believe me, look at any news story that involves a Muslim, and read the comments from the readers. It is shameful.
Ten years later, The first responders, who put aside family and other responsibilities to toil at the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center, have had to pay a huge price for their sacrifice. Many have developed significant respiratory issues, others have developed cancers that normally occur far more rarely. For this, they have received little, aside from empty words of support and promises, as they face further death and disability. Slowly, steps are being taken in the right direction to provide compensation, but they deserve far more than that.
Ten years later, we receive word of another “credible” threat though “unconfirmed.” I truly hope that nothing happens. Yet, this is just another stop on the paranoia roller coaster many of us in the United States have been riding since 9/11. At this point, I feel like the way in which news outlets cover stories about terror threats, acts of violence, and other similar events has moved so far beyond “the boy who cried wolf” that every threat, credible or otherwise, has become background noise to me. It shouldn’t, but it has. This is what fear-mongering does. It saturates and obliterates any ability to discern what is worth worrying about, and what can be put aside.
Ten years later, I worry that I have descended into a kind of cynicism. I want to believe that, as a country, we have grown closer post-9/11, and that we can look past everything and come together for the sake of peace and stability. Then I see the politicians railing against equality, diversity, and drive while championing xenophobia, a widening income gap, and ignorance. They fancy themselves patriots. The patriots who fought for our country over 200 years ago (yes OUR country) were fighting for freedom and equality for all. How quickly the definition of patriotism has changed! This only fuels my cynicism. If you want to meet a patriot, talk to some of the first responders who didn’t ask those they saved if they were immigrants, followed a different faith from theirs, or worked in a different income bracket before deciding whether or not to save them.
Ten years later, and I’m still admittedly worried.
Ten years later, and I still mourn the loss of life.
Ten years later, what was Ground Zero–a smoldering pile of ashes, rubble, pain, and death–has slowly blossomed into something beautiful and full of hope. Even though I am in Manhattan very often, the last time I had visited Ground Zero was in 2008. It takes my breath away now, to see what has literally risen from the ashes. From 9/11 to now, we have been beating the terrorists everyday by living, building, and thriving. Yet we cannot truly win until we hearken to a more basic, but universal set of principles. That is to say, all are equal, and all should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Freedom, knowledge, and well-being are not objects that can or should be rationed, but rather, are undeniable facets of human nature that should be tapped, and never stifled for any reason.
Almost ten years ago, I watched the towers fall. I watched my idyllic vision of the world crumble amidst the rubble and twisted metal frame.
Almost ten years after the Twin Towers fell, Osama Bin Laden has finally been killed. At the time that I’m writing this, details are few and far between. What is true is that many are finding solace in his death, and I do hope it will provide some closure to those who were directly and indirectly affected by Al Qaeda. However, his death will likely not mean the end of anything, certainly not the end of the war on terrorism. Al Qaeda is still very much alive, and we must stay vigilant.
I fell in love with Japan at the age of 3, after watching the Sesame Street special “Big Bird in Japan.” I wanted to visit from the time I saw that special, and got my wish four years later, when my family and I took a trip to Japan. I fell in love all over again, in the way only a 2nd grader can: completely.
At the time, I remember being surrounded by a vast array of colors, the bright lights of Osaka and Tokyo, people whose manners and etiquette made New Yorkers come across as cavemen. I was floored by the modernity when I first got to Japan. Even in the early 90s, Japan was a hub of technological achievement, especially epitomized for me in a smooth, seamless journey on the shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka to Tokyo. In Nara, I was introduced to the ancient, as it resided alongside the modern. The Todai-ji temple was a glorious site to behold, with its pagoda architecture, giving it the appearance of having wings. Inside, it housed a 50 ft. massive bronze statue of the Buddha which, for someone who was still somewhat below 4 ft. at the time, was an unbelievable marvel. Marbled through modern Japan remained an ancient sense of etiquette, propriety, wisdom, and duty, which was clear in our interaction with the people.
In the years since then, I have kept my love affair with Japan alive, even though I haven’t gotten to set foot on Japanese soil since my first trip. I took two years of Japanese in high school, an Asian religions class in college that covered Zen Buddhism, and have devoted some of my spare time to learning more about the culture.
When I heard about the tsunami in Japan, my heart sank. Yes, Japan had been subject to many natural disasters in the past decade or two, from snowstorms to earthquakes, but none were remotely of the same magnitude as this. As pictures and news stories started to pour in, I began to see just how destructive it had been, and how far-reaching the effects were. Sleepy fishing villages were torn apart and turned upside down, while Tokyo was strewn with debris and rubble. Countless thousands were dead, with thousands more left homeless and alone. Ultra-modern Japan had been brought to its knees by nature. With the added threat of radiation leakage from damaged nuclear reactors, Japan faces a new threat that could have ramifications for decades, if not more.
In the face of disaster, whether at the hands of nature or man, the people are often thrown into chaos, and turn inconsolable, enraged, and sometimes violent. It is a normal reaction to suddenly abnormal and adverse circumstances. What struck me as unusual about Japan is how little of that there appears to be. Yes, there is grief and frustration, but paramount to those feelings was a resolute sense of duty, a duty to rebuild both cities and lives. The so-called “Fukushima 50″ have gained international attention for their extreme dedication to keeping the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant from melting, while subjecting themselves to levels of ionizing radiation that are several orders of magnitude above what would otherwise be safe.
Perhaps this reaction isn’t entirely unusual. The Japanese people, after all, were on the losing end of World War II and the only country to become a victim of nuclear warfare that had horrific consequences for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, they were able to recover from that level of destruction through resolute determination, and so it would only make sense for them to put their collective energies solely towards the business of recovery and rebuilding. Duty and industriousness was something I got to see as a tourist in Japan, and are qualities that persist now. It is reflective of the hardy culture that has endured for centuries, through dynastic upheavals and wars, and will likely help them endure for many more centuries.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people.
Egypt has seen days of protest, unrest, and recently, violence since January 25, 2011. The events in Egypt have certainly galvanized the people in Egypt, but perhaps more interestingly, have stirred the sentiments of Egyptians born abroad when previously, little existed to tie them to their ancestral homeland.
The story of so many first-generation Americans starts with parents who were born and raised abroad, but came to the United States to pursue greater opportunities and raise a family. While there is a vague sense of culture and heritage, their children are quick to adopt an American sense of self, that is to say, an amalgam of cultures and points of view that are distinctly American. While they know that their roots are miles, if not seas and oceans away, and while they may eat the same foods, believe in the same religion, and accept the same cultural practices as their forebears, they hold America to be their country. This is my story, and the story of many people I know who, like me, are first-generation Americans.
Yet, for me, when the Mumbai terrorist attacks occurred, I was once again Indian. These were my people, who were mercilessly gunned down. These are my people who now bear the scars, and hope for justice to be served. The story is no different for many young people of Egyptian origin, who find themselves strongly identifying with their countrymen, even if they haven’t set foot in the country, or stayed for more than a few weeks at a time. This is likely the story of any group of first-generation Americans whose country of origin was mired in war or subjected to other unspeakable conflicts and tragedies. We identify with their plight, because it could have very well been our parents or relatives who were involved (and sometimes they may have been).
As far as Egypt goes, there has been a considerable amount of violence and bloodshed over the past few days that have no doubt shaken legions of young Egyptian-Americans to their core. Yet the people of Egypt (especially the youth) are demanding change, and calling for an end to politics as usual. Despite curfews, threats, and fighting, they have continued to stand their ground, calling for democracy. For that, Egyptian American youth can certainly be proud to call themselves Egyptian. Certainly, for that, we all can be proud to ally ourselves with their cause.
When I was in ninth grade, my classmates were introduced to Hinduism and some basic Hindu tenets in our Global Studies class. One of the first things that we covered was the concept of the caste system. There were the brahmins (priests) at the top, followed by the kshatriyas (warriors), then the vaishyas (merchants), and sudras (unskilled workers). Absent from the hierarchy were the untouchables. It had always been my understanding that caste was a birthright. One was born into a certain caste based on their past karma (fruits of their actions). The hereditary quality of caste, like eye color and skin tone, seemed indisputable. If my parents were one caste, then I would be of the same caste. Hence, at the time, marrying within the same caste made complete sense.
I read this article recently in the New York Times, detailing the honor killing of a Brahmin girl in Northern India who was secretly engaged to someone from a lower caste. The parents had apparently feared, “…ostracism, and accused her of defiling their religion.” She was 22 years old when she was found dead, and was apparently pregnant. While the argument from the family’s side is that she committed suicide, it is hard not to believe that she died at the hands of her family. I can’t seriously believe her fiancé could have posed a serious threat aside from being a threat to questionable ideals and the pride that the family derived from adhering to those ideals.
My discontent with the caste system as it exists today probably started with my most recent trip to India. I was about to head off to college, and was visiting India partly to pray at some of the temples. One of the temples I visited was a small temple in Ernakulam devoted to Devi (the female embodiment of divinity). We had gone to perform a puja (ritual offering) in honor of one of the manifestations of Devi, Saraswati (the goddess of learning). The priest was unsurprisingly, a brahmin. My experience with priests here in the U.S. has always been positive; they have always been very friendly and interacted with us as though we were family. Yet this priest, nice as he was, would not permit us to touch his feet as a sign of respect, nor accidentally touch his hands when he gave us prasadam (food sanctified by having offered it to the deity). Even Nairs (at least in the old days…maybe even now in some rural parts of Kerala) had a physical hierarchy, where the castes are segregated to some extent, intermingling only as much as necessary. That never seemed right to me. While we set ourselves apart from each other with these supposedly hereditary castes, I’m pretty sure there are people in each caste who may not necessarily fit what it means to be from that caste, whether that means they rise above the defining characteristics or fall well below the cultural expectations.
To my knowledge, there is no scriptural basis for the theory that caste is hereditary. In the Bhagavad Gita, there is the following verse:
sudranam ca parantapa
Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras are distinguished by their qualities of work, O chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature.
(Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 18, Verse 41)
The next few verses delineate the qualities of each level of the caste system, without any reference to family or lineage as a deciding factor. The son of a sudra is not necessarily a sudra just because he is born to one. The same is true for other castes. It’s like saying the son of a doctor is a doctor too…ok well some parents may actually believe that one.
Unfortunately, caste still exists as a rigid, unchanging system where mobility is not an option. Intermingling among castes, while accepted nowadays in most contexts (more or less), romantic relationships still remain taboo. It is truly unfortunate and deplorable when parents react so harshly (and sometimes violently) in the face of an intercaste union. It is equally deplorable that, while people do interact across caste boundaries, some still hold on to the antiquated sense of superiority of inferiority supposedly conferred by caste. I really do hope this changes, it just seems like the product of centuries of misinterpretation and an intrinsic need to create a sense of “us” versus “them”. Once we move past those terms and realize that we are all in this together, and that we must do what we can to elevate each other socially and spiritually, then only can we make real progress.
A friend sent me this article just today: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html
Needless to say, I was appalled.
Yes, I see what he was getting at. The face of American towns is changing, new ethnic groups are claiming them as their homes and setting up shop (many literally). Yet I’m not sure the author could have masked his petulant whining any more poorly, not to mention the casual use of racist language. Even more surprising is that it was published in Time magazine, a publication of reasonable repute (at least last I checked).
I’m more than aware of Edison, but perhaps more so of Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights is another “little India” in Queens, where I spent the first year of my life, and would continue to visit. You know it’s little India because of the paan stains on the sidewalk and the kulfi stands lining them. Can’t get much more Indian than that, I think. This town, like Edison, is often a starting point for many Indians who come from India seeking their fortune in the United States. Having that much of an Indian presence so close at hand provides comfort and a sense of belonging that curtails some of the homesickness and, in time, allows them the confidence to branch out and search for greater opportunity elsewhere. Yet they can still return if they feel a sense of nostalgia, or want to give their children–newly minted US citizens–a small taste (literally or figuratively) of home.
I’m fairly sure the mostly Anglo-Saxon and Nordic stock that made up most of the population of the US before the end of the 18th century didn’t take too kindly to new immigrants setting up little nooks for themselves. Yet eventually, they were embraced, and allowed their little slice of their homeland’s culture. Even today, there is a Little Italy in Manhattan, as well as a Chinatown, Koreatown, and all sorts of towns that cater to specific cultures. What about those places? There may be some grumbling behind the scenes, but certainly it isn’t aired in such a childish manner in a publication that doesn’t usually cater to such banter.
The face of America is changing in many ways. If you can’t deal with it, that’s too bad. You’re just missing out.
There is a trending topic on Twitter called #booksthatchangedmyworld. What are yours? Why? Here are my top 10 (in no particular order):
1. The Bhagavad Gita
2. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
4. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
5. Phantoms in the Brain
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
7. Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
8. Autobiography of a Yogi
10. 100 Years of Solitude
Certainly a lot has happened in the past year, a lot of change, both good and bad. There were exhilarating highs and somber lows, and everything in between. Here is my year in review:
1. President Obama assumes office: I think most of us were still floating high in the wake of his momentous victory in November, and his inauguration was no less amazing. I think it’s fair to say that he has done a decent job so far (the economy is back on track), though he has had his fair share of missteps (Air Force One anyone?). I really do hope he lives up to the campaign hype, and his Nobel.
2. Ted Kennedy: Ted Kennedy’s struggle with glioblastoma multiforme (one of the most aggressive types of primary brain tumors) held special significance for me because that is where my work is currently focused. He was a trooper throughout his life, championing the cause of the underdog through to the end. Sadly, he did not live to see health reform pass Congress, an issue he fought for heavily. Hopefully he is proud with the progress we have made.
3. The string of celebrity deaths: Many famous faces left us this year. I don’t know whether it is a function of the actual numbers being higher, or the hype surrounding them being more pronounced. I think it’s fair to say that the most shocking of them all was Michael Jackson, because it was so unexpected. It was certainly one that hit me the hardest.
4. Music continues to remain terrible: Lady Gaga was the latest addition to a menagerie of abysmal talent that has defined pop music for the last decade or more. Previously talented musicians have continued to spiral downward (Mariah Carey). I guess nothing much has changed here.
5. H1N1: When word got around that a new flu variant was on the loose, things got just a little crazier. Thankfully, it did not turn out to be the reincarnation of the 1918 Spanish Flu that everyone predicted it would be, but it did put our public health system through its paces. Perhaps the best (and worst) thing that came out of it was New York State mandating that all health care workers get the flu shot. Vaccines have never been mandated before (though they are strongly encouraged and are a necessity for attending public school), so it seemed kind of idiotic that they would be mandating it for health care workers. Yet I’m kind of glad I at least got the seasonal flu shot. It was offered at our hospital, the whole thing was very quick, and it’s another thing I can cross off of my to-do list.
6. Snuggies: I’m not even sure where to begin with this. People, you can take your bathrobe, wear it backwards, and save $19.99 or whatever it costs. Yet Snuggies have sold like hot cakes. I can only shake my head.
7. It became cool to be Indian: Indian culture took center stage in the wake of Slumdog Millionaire’s runaway success. Bollywood and bhangra became widely featured in the pop culture circuit, most notably America’s Best Dance Crew and at the White House State Dinner (every woman there seemed to be rocking a sari or lengha). We always had the best food, best dance forms, and best music (obviously in my totally unbiased opinion)…now everyone knows.
8. Twitter: Twitter has been around for a while, but I think it really took off this year. It has certainly transformed the way we connect to other people, and increase our awareness of the world around us. Admittedly, I get my news first from Twitter in most cases, before most of the major media outlets catch on. I’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with several brilliant and cool people. I’m very glad I joined.
Here’s to 2010 being better!