Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

John McCain Diagnosed with Cancer

Senator John McCain has recently been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of cancer that forms in the tissue of the brain and spinal cord. Last Friday, McCain underwent surgery to remove a blood clot at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. During surgery, doctors confirmed the presence of the tumor. Treatment will likely involve chemotherapy and radiation. While the average survival rate for this type of cancer tends to be around 14 months with treatment, up to 10 percent of patients can live for five years or longer.

John McCain was born John Sidney McCain III on August 29, 1936 in Canal Zone, Panama. He is 80 years old and has been a U.S. senator from Arizona since 1986, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. But even before that, McCain has had a long history of service to his country. He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1954 and served in the U.S. Navy until 1981. In 1967, while serving as a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, his plane was shot down. He parachuted into a lake, broke both arms and one leg, and was imprisoned for the next five and a half years. As a prisoner of war, he endured beatings, solitary confinement, and other forms of torture. In 1981, he retired from the Navy as a Captain. At the time of his retirement, his honors included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, and was elected to the U.S. Senate four years later. He has served there ever since.

What Senator McCain might be best known for is his role in the 2008 presidential election, when he ran against Barack Obama. He became known as “The Maverick,” and chose little-known Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, which was significant because it was the first time that a female candidate had appeared on the Republican presidential ticket. His slogan during the campaign was “Country first,” which embodies McCain’s core philosophy: that the collective good of the country is more important than a person’s political party.

What Do You Think? Senator McCain is famous or having once said, “War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” Do you agree with McCain’s statement? Why or why not?

Update on the Republican Repeal and Replace Plan

Keeping up with Congress’s health care legislation these days is nearly impossible.

To recap: In May, House Republicans, under Paul Ryan, tried to pass legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) and replace it with a different plan that would ultimately take away health care coverage from over 20 million Americans. That legislation failed. House Republicans then rewrote the bill, which they managed to pass. That bill moved along to the Senate. For a time, it seemed as if it had failed in the Senate as well.

Close-up view of a gavel resting on a sound block with the words 'Health Care', all against a white background. Credit: Aydin Buyuktas/Alamy

The battle to pass a new health care plan in the Senate is continuing to be a problem for Republicans. Credit: Aydin Buyuktas/Alamy

Last week, the Senate was due to vote on the bill, but the vote was delayed due to Senator McCain’s eye surgery, which gave more time for the bill’s opponents to mobilize. Late in the week, two Republican senators–Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine–declared that they would not support the legislation. A few days later, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas also declared their opposition. This left Republican leaders at least two votes short of the number needed even to begin debate on the health care bill.

This left Senate Republicans with two options: either rewrite the legislation in such a way that they could guarantee support from at least 50 Republican senators, or start from scratch, working with Democrats on a new health care bill that would fix many of the ACA’s problems in a more bipartisan way.

Instead, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–with the support of President Trump–decided to put forward legislation that would repeal the ACA without immediately replacing it with something else. The latest proposal would simply remove as much of Obamacare as possible and allow a two-year transition period for the Senate to replace it. The new bill has already faced many problems: the Senate parliamentarian ruled that parts of it violate Senate rules; Senator McCain has been diagnosed with cancer and will be away from Washington, leaving Republicans yet another vote short; and the Congressional Budget Office announced last week that this newest repeal bill would still take away health insurance from 22 million Americans.

At the moment, the Senate has voted to proceed with debates about the new repeal bill.

What Do You Think? Have you ever worked with a group on a school project and found that you disagreed about how to complete the project? How did you manage to work past your differences and reach a compromise?

Great Gold vs. Great Fake?

Michael Phelps, winner of 23 Olympic gold medals in swimming, raced a great white shark as the centerpiece of this year’s Discovery Channel Shark Week. The hour-long special was called “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White,” and generated a lot of anticipation, especially on social media. Because humans swim so much more slowly than sharks (humans top out at about 6 mph, while sharks swim about 25 mph), Phelps was given a monofin to help improve his time. Phelps and the shark swam 100 meters at roughly the same speed, though the shark ultimately beat Phelps by two seconds.

Except, none of it really happened.

Turns out, the shark was computer generated. Before the so-called “race,” scientists lured a great white shark with a fake seal and filmed it, then used that data to create a CGI shark for the show. Phelps later admitted that they did what they could to make the finish times come out about the same. The stunt caused widespread outrage over social media, as people reacted to having watched an hour-long show just to see a fake race.

Phelps vs. Shark is not the first time a human being has raced an animal. In 1936, gold medalist Jesse Owens raced a horse and won (albeit with a forty-yard head start). There’s an annual Man vs. Horse Marathon in Wales that’s been going on for over 35 years. More recently, there was even a Fox TV show called “Man vs. Beast.” But all of those are different in one key way: they featured actual animals as contestants, rather than computer simulations.

On Twitter, Phelps humorously called for a rematch. The question is whether or not anyone would care enough to watch it.

What Do You Think? Jesse Owens went on from his record-breaking Olympic career to race horses, trains, cars, and dogs. Why do you think people enjoy watching athletes race non-humans?