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Monday, March 17, 2014

What's The Story of Jahi McMath? The Surgery Complications and the Legal Firestorm That Followed

Jahi McMath was just a normal girl from Oakland, California, who just so happened to have a severe case of Sleep Apnea. Her family decided to have her undergo a routine surgery to remove throat and nasal tissue to help decrease the effect of her symptoms. When she awoke from the surgery, everything seemed fine at first. She was smiling, laughing, and talking. It seemed that everything was going to go as planned, and everybody would be able to return to their normal lives soon. Unfortunately, however, something went very, very wrong during the surgery. She began to bleed profusely from her nose and mouth, and then suffered a cardiac arrest. She was placed on a ventilator, and doctors tried everything they could to save her. But whatever had gone wrong during the surgery was inevitably fatal. 2 days later, she was declared Brain Dead. In this situation, brain death is a complete and total loss of activity in the brain, and it cannot be undone. She is not in a vegetative state, as this loss of activity includes her brain stem. She is completely and utterly dead. All from a common, simple, routine surgery to treat sleep apnea.

The family refuses to believe they lost their daughter. Jahi’s Grandmother claims she responds to touch. The hospital claims that there is no electrical activity in her brain, however, which would make this impossible. The family wants to keep her on a machine to keep her heart beating, as they believe that cardiac death is the only true death. The hospital knows that she will never wake. This isn’t an issue of a coma that doesn’t look good. This is complete death. Without blood flow to her brain, her brain will slowly liquify. The hospital wants to take her off of the ventilator, to make room for more patients. The parents, however, in an attempt to keep the child on, attempt to make the doctor involved in the situation look like a bad person by releasing  a statement saying:

"We have our strong religious convictions and set of beliefs and we believe that, in this country, a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child: not a doctor who looks only at lines on a paper, or reads the cold black and white words on a law that says 'brain dead' and definitely not a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place."

The hospital attempts damage control in several statements trying to convince the public that they have been helpful and caring to the family in this situation, including this one:

"We continue to [help] despite their lawyer's criticizing the very hospital that all along has been working hard to be accommodating to this grieving family.”

The public isn't able to make the decision however, and after a few days, the case is taken to civil court on December 20, 2013. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that the hospital must keep Jahi on a ventilator until a court-approved doctor can assess whether the teen has any chance of recovering, and eventually makes that date December 30th.  According to the doctor appointed (Paul Fisher), Jahi meets all criteria for brain death, and Judge Grillo denies a petition to keep her on a ventilator past December 30th. The Alameda County Coroner issues a death certificate listing December 12th as the date of death for Jahi McMath.

On the 26th, the family announced they found a facility to “care” for Jahi MacMath’s body. The hospital agrees to release her, but will not waste money on inserting breathing and feeding tubes, which are required for her body to be transferred. Eventually a team hired by Jahi McMath’s family moves her body to the new facility. It arrives at the new facility in “poor condition”. One statement says her body “is in such poor condition that she might not survive.”

This heartbreaking story, along with others, raise arguments about the controversy surrounding the brain death. Brain death is not anywhere near as common as cardiac death (the heart stopping). So the accepted fact among the general public is that death is declared when the heart stops beating. The fact that cardiac death is just referred to as “death” and brain death is separated by having a different name doesn’t exactly help the situation either. It gives those uneducated about brain death a false sense of security and hope. Most of the time, families come to grips with the situation in days if not hours. Every once in a while, however, a firestorm like this arises out of the situation.

It’s not always a case of families in denial, though. There are cases where the hospitals and courts are the ones causing the issue. A brain-dead Texas woman is currently being kept on life support against her and her family’s wishes, because she’s 14 weeks pregnant. Texas law prevents life-saving treatment from being withheld from pregnant women until the fetus is viable and able to be delivered. The mother is already dead in the family’s eyes, however, as brain death was declared legal death in 2008 by a Presidential Bioethics Council.

These recent court battles raise questions about what brain death exactly is, and in what situations it should be treated as a deep coma (i.e. when a woman is pregnant, even without a functioning brain, her heart being kept beating by a respirator can keep the baby continuing to grow), and when it should be treated as absolute death ( i.e. when a patient is just taking up space.).

It doesn't look like the president is going to be appointing a committee to make a decision anytime soon, though. As journalists publish articles encouraging people to question the meaning of brain death, and whether it should be considered legal death, the scientific and medical community continue to reassure people that these are situations created out of a misunderstanding of the concept. In Jahi McMath’s story, it’s a misunderstanding by the family. In the case of Marlise Munoz (the Texas woman), it’s a misunderstanding by the hospital of the law. Nonetheless, these court battles will continue to raise questions and generate controversy.

Going back to Jahi McMath’s case, it isn't very clear what the outcome of this situation is going to be. The Media and Court firestorm has subsided, and it doesn't look like either one of them is going to start back up again. Whatever undisclosed facility her body has been moved to doesn't seem like one that’s eventually going to decide they want out. And even if they do, it seems that they've gained enough trust with the family to convince them to terminate treatment if it comes to that. It doesn't look like the case is going back to court, and without fighting in court, there’s no way for news outlets to milk anymore out of the story.

There’s questions surrounding the legality of what the family is doing - keeping a legally dead person instead of burying her - but nobody is going to touch that with a 20 foot pole anytime soon. And that makes this case just that much more interesting. This case - along with others - are going to have a huge affect on how the public views brain death. The biggest question is: Is this going to cause people to go with logic in the future, or go with their gut feeling and seemingly right-at-first morals? The next time somebody ends up suddenly brain dead, and have a family like McMath’s, will they keep the patient on a machine or let her go? Will Jahi McMath’s case have any affect on them?

Friday, March 14, 2014

The 22 Creators (A Fun Story for Friday)

     "The 22 Creators" is a story that I wrote for an English project a few weeks ago. It's basically a mythology story describing how the world was created, and it's a good chuckle if you're politically informed.

Before humans and their culture existed, there were 22 beings known as the creators. They lived in peace in a small community in the modern day Middle East until about 2000 years ago. In March of what we call 1 B.C., one of the creators, the old and wise man of the group, published a book with 23 chapters. The first chapter explained that a second race of intelligent beings needed to be created, as the creators were dying, and a race smarter than the current animals they lived with needed to work on the earth. They didn’t have to be quite as strong as the creators, or immortal. They just needed to be advanced enough to have language and a culture. The remaining 22 chapters were different versions of what the humans should be like. 22 copies of the book were printed, one for each member of the community. Each creator took a position on what the new race of inferior beings should be like. All of the creators grew to resent each other, and moved to different parts of the world. 3 of them, Judias, Islami, and Christian remained in the Middle East. The old wise man moved into modern day America. All of them except for the old wise man molded a man and woman, and impregnated the woman. 21 different first naturally born humans were born on December 25th, 0 A.D. The old man continued to wait before creating his race, however.

The creators rarely intervened with the humans. And over the next 1,500 years or so, the creators allowed their races of people to grow. Each group of humans grew to have different races, religions, and cultures, and each creator was proud of his or her own group of humans. However, war broke out between different groups of humans living near each other. Racism, bigotry, sexism, and other such intolerances ran rampant. The old wise man followed the last chapter of the book, however, which no one bothered to read because once they came to the chapter they thought was perfect, they stopped reading. The 23rd and final chapter was a mixture of the previous 21. All the different cultures were living together in harmony, and not fighting and hating each other as they did elsewhere in this chapter. The old wise man didn’t create a new race of humans, rather he secretly intervened with the humans other creators had made, and manipulated some of them into moving into his territory. His vision didn’t take place instantaneously, it took a few hundred years, but eventually it came to be that races from all over the world lived in his territory, and racism, bigotry, sexism, and other such intolerances were no longer commonplace, and they lived together without war, respecting each other’s differences, rather than being irrationally afraid of them, and lived together in peace. And he thought it good.

The other creators saw what he had done, and were at first angry with him for messing with their humans. Then, they saw how quickly his group of humans was advancing, and how good they were at problem solving, and realized their own mistakes. Europa, the youngest of the beings, quickly copied the old wise man, and his civilization began to grow even faster than the man’s. This was because the old man’s culture was arrogant and better-than-thou towards other cultures, because they thought the other cultures were inferior for so much fighting. Europa’s culture, however, respected others, and the wise old man’s culture began to mimic Europa’s. The wise old man was not angered, however, as he didn’t care what their motivations were for acting the way they did. He didn't care whether or not they were doing it because it was the right thing to do, or just not to upset the rest of the world with their arrogance, he was just proud that they were doing it.

And so, other creators began to copy the wise old man and Europa, but died before they could do so. Europa nurtured the old wise man to keep him from dying, however, and Europa himself wasn't old enough to die yet, for he was the youngest. Together they continued to help other cultures learn to live in peace with one another.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

$20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Need 20 bucks? I got you bro.

You can buy everything from books to headphones an Amazon, so a $20 Amazon gift card is basically just 20 bucks good for everything except for food.

You can check out my review of the Skullcandy INK'D 2.0s, in which I also giveaway a $20 Amazon gift card below.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Important Updates for my YouTube Subscribers

        Hey guys, this is Justin Howell, and there are six topics I want to hit on in this blog post:

               1. The Skullcandy INK'D 2.0 Review Video
               2. The Giveaway
               3. Busyness, and How I'm Going to Handle It
               4. More Writing
               5. OUYA 2014 Thoughts
               6. Some News That Might Shock You...

        First off the Skullcandy Review. I just want to let you that this upcoming video will be legendary. It will be the highest quality video I've ever created. I've made what I like to consider "good" videos, even "high-quality" ones. But the review of the INK'D 2.0 is going to be my first professional quality video (if I do say so myself.), so keep an eye out for it,

        I said the video will be posted late this week or early next week, and my goal is to get it out in the latter, hopefully Tuesday. But that depends on the giveaway. That's because a lot of people wanted me to giveaway some headphones, so, I thought: "Why not giveaway a pair of Skullcandy INK'D 2.0s in the review video? Hey, that's a good idea. I'll do that!" But, I want to wait until I have both the product and a way to get it to whoever wins before I open up the giveaway, so people don't end up feeling scammed. I should hopefully get that figured out this weekend into early next week, and the review should go live Tuesday or Wednesday. But, if it doesn't, know that it's complications with the giveaway, and keep an eye on my Google Plus and Twitter pages for more information.

       Now you may be wondering why I had that short video basically telling you to come over here and give this blog post a read. The answer is I'm busy. Really busy. I'm dealing with with three things that each by themselves are capable of decreasing the rate at which I'm able to get videos out. I made a New Years Resolution to not go months on end without making videos, which has happened all to often throughout the history of my channel. So, in times like this, I'm beginning to try out a strategy of posting vlogs every week, as well as a high quality video every 2-3 weeks, and accelerating the rate at which I'm out pushing out written content. I hope you guys like that plan, let me know in the comments.

        But, going back to written content, I'm not just going to write more just for the next month and a half, I'm going to write more from here on out. I haven't been writing enough for iTechTriad or my blog, and I'm going to change that starting within the next 1-2 weeks. How am I going to divvy up content between the those two outlets? Basically: All tech content will go to iTechTriad. Everything else will go to my blog. You might be surprised at how much content is posted on the latter. I'm constantly scribbling things down, the vast majority of it not tech, and I hope you guys might take interest in things that I have to say. The only time tech content will be posted on my blog is when other members of iTechTriad have already wrote about tech content I want to give my opinion on.

        Speaking of tech: The Ouya 2014. Yeah, nobody cares. Except for me. Pretty much. The only three real problems I had with the original were the lack of plentiful storage space, a quality section of games, and a non-crappy game pad. All three of those things are present in the new Ouya, however. So I seriously might get one. Which makes it fair game for me. But the Ouya doesn't make any sense, right? You're probably looking for me to expand on that, and for that, you'll have to look forward to a video that will be posted Wednesday, April 2, 2014, which also contains... something that might shock you.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nokia X: Will it Succeed?

    Just a short while ago, Nokia unveiled it’s new Nokia X line of smartphones. The primary difference between the X and Lumia line-ups? The new phones on the X line run Android. What makes these announcements even more interesting is that these phones will run a heavily skinned version of Android that has a similar User Interface to Windows Phone 8. The devices even use all Microsoft services, such as SkyDrive and Bing Search. The devices don’t even come with access to the Play Store. The devices are also all generally mid-range to low end, being thicker and heavier than most smartphones out there (similar to the Lumia series), and having relatively low end hardware.  With these shortcomings, it’s pretty safe to say Nokia’s new lineup of smartphones are experimental, and not meant to have iPhone-5S/5C level sales. The main question now is: Will this experiment succeed, or come out as a flop?

*Written Before I Saw the Price*

At first glance, it’s easy to assume the latter. With the notable exception of the Kindle Fire series, devices without access to Google’s Play services generally tend to fail miserably. Is that going to happen to the X line-up? Well, it all depends on the price. Especially with competition like the At&t Fusion 2. The Fusion 2 may not have as good a screen, camera, or UI, but it matches up to the Nokia X in everything else, and, most importantly, it has access to the Google Play Store. In fact, in my personal opinion, I don’t think the Nokia X or X+ are going to do very well, as there’s no way Nokia will be able to compete with the often sub-$50 price of the Fusion 2 and phones similar to it. The Nokia XL might be interesting, however. As most likely one of the few budget phablets, and having a front facing camera, it could end up doing very well.

*After Seeing the Price*

What did I tell you? Seriously, what did I tell you? The Nokia X and X+ are $119 and $139 respectively. When compared to the price-to-performance ratio of the Fusion 2 and even Nokia’s own 520, these don’t make any sense to purchase without the Google Play Store.

The $149 XL, however, is very interesting. With a 5-Inch screen, by some people’s standards, it’s a phablet. Even if 5 inches is not a phablet by your standards, it’s still bigger than any other phone in the price range. In addition, like I said, it has a front camera, which is something no phones in this price range have. Also, its 5 megapixel camera should have similar quality to the Lumia 520, which is a good thing. If the Nokia Android App Store works out, this could be a very successful device.

So, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I think the X and X+ will flop, and the XL will do pretty well. How you do you think this is going to work out? Let me know in the comments below, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for continuing coverage on Windows Phone 8.

The Galaxy S V: Really a V or just a IVS?

     I'm not going to do some fancy introduction. I'm just going to come right out and say it. It's a IVS. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

     The Galaxy S IV is, nearly a year later, still one of the best phones you can buy. In fact, Samsung could have absolutely gotten away with not updating the Galaxy line. There haven't been any revolutions in technology that every flagship phone needs to have in the past 12 months or so. As a result, the fact that the new Galaxy Phone doesn't have any exciting new features isn't surprising. It's not disappointing either, and most people aren't going to think less of Samsung for it. It's basically just a higher end, slightly more expensive option for those in the market for a new smartphone. It has a few cool exclusive features, such as a heart rate monitor, 4K video recording, and dust and water resistance, but overall it's nothing to upgrade from an S IV over, or even an S III for that matter.

     In fact, the four features I just mentioned, plus a new material on the back, the new TouchWiz UI, a fingerprint scanner, slightly bigger display, and refreshed internals are the only new features the Galaxy S V sports. That's right. The only ones. Like I've already said, it's really meant to be an option for those looking at picking up a Galaxy S smartphone for the first time, and for owners of older Galaxy Phones like the S II and original S, not for S III or IV owners. And, again, it was completely expected, since there haven't any jumps in mobile smartphone technology since the release of the S IV.

     One problem that could emerge for Samsung, however, is HTC. We generally imagine either Apple, Google (with their Nexus phones), or Nokia introducing the significant, revolutionary new features. We just might see something totally unexpected come out of HTC this year, however. HTC is an a perfect place. Their brand is just popular enough that a revolutionary new feature would send the new HTC phone flying off the shelves, but not so popular that it would be relatively devastating if huge leaps scared away customers. Higher-Ups at HTC most likely also predicted that the S V would be a minor update (like all S phones will be from now on, as Samsung needs to keep the devices familiar to keep their current huge customer base), and may have a trick up their sleeve for the M8 (or whatever the new HTC phone will be called.).

     I guarantee you, anybody who's even slightly tech-savvy are going to wait to see what HTC has in store for us before they make the jump and purchase an S V. And, while we can currently expect to see millions of people buying the new Samsung phone in he first few days it becomes available,  most non-tech savvy people are going to wait to see what the tech geeks are doing before making a decision. So while things are sure to look bright for the new Galaxy in the first few days it's on sale as die-hard Samsung fans pick up the phone, the ultimate success of the device may be decided by HTC.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


     As of 4:27 PM Eastern Time Sunday, the popular Google Reader replacement Feedly was confirmed to back online by the service's blog after a nearly 2 and a half hour shutdown Sunday afternoon. Users took to Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook complaining about the outage early Sunday afternoon, and Feedly acknowledged it via their blog and Twitter account at 2:08 PM later that same day.

     According to their blog, the outage was caused by "rouge request" that jammed their caching layer and caused a timeout issue for all of their users using the Feedly website, iOS and Android apps, and third party clients.

     They fixed the issue by "[disabling] the IP range of rouge the third party client and [restarting] the app servers" according to their blog post update, and confirmed that they were working on an altering of the code to prevent rouge requests from jamming their cache in the future, as well as implementing a better system to partition requests to keep one third party client from impacting the quality of service for other clients to keep another blackout from happening again because of a similar issue.

     The incident comes just hours after All Access experienced the exact opposite of it's name Saturday evening, likely because of the surge of users generated from the service launching for iOS devices Friday.