I’m back.

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As one can tell from scrolling through the sparse entries over the past 6 weeks, I’ve been laying low. It’s actually been a nice little holiday – I find that a break every now and again helps gets the creative juices flowing again. Plus I’ve been working on a couple of other projects, one that I hope to reveal in the next 3-6 months.Given that it is relatively late, and that I’ve had something of the emotional day, I’m going to keep this entry short. Before long, I’m sure that I’ll get back into the swing of things. There are grand rounds to write for and to host. Flea did me the favor of tagging me with the ‘Why Do You Blog?‘ meme (which I’m hoping to respond to). And the lovely Dr. Signout tagged me with the ‘Thinking Blog‘ meme.And since blog memes are always a cheap and easy way to fill blog space, I think that I’ll start one percolating around and see how far it goes. I’m calling it the “$456 billion meme” (which should be pretty easy to track in Technorati).

This meme is inspired by something from my hometown paper, the Boston Globe. They posted a pictorial feature called, “What does $456 billion buy?“:

While there is some disagreement on the idea of troop deadlines for US soldiers in Iraq, all sides seem to be on board with the amount included in the bill to fund the war.

Including the $124.2 billion bill, the total cost of the Iraq war may reach $456 billion in September, according to the National Priorities Project, an organization that tracks public spending.

The amount got us wondering: What would $456 billion buy?

The Globe did a great job of listing some of the obvious places where this money could go: education, environment, global poverty. They also really (in my opinion) stepped in it with this one:

US drivers consume approximately 384.7 million gallons of gasoline a day. Retail prices averaged $2.64 a gallon in 2006. Breaking it down, $456 billion could buy gasoline for everybody in the United States, for about 449 days.

Please. Could that be any more infuriating? And appalling?

Here’s my suggestion: $456 billion could probably buy a cure for cancer. Given that we fund the National Cancer Institute to the tune of about $4.8 billion, and the entire NIH for about $28.85 billion, we could fund the work of the NCI about 100 times over for the money we’ve pissed away in/on Iraq. And the 3376 American soliders killed? We could send all of them to college and graduate school and staff 10 or 20 brand new cancer centers. And pay for the laboratories.

So this is the meme: where would you have spent the $456 billion spent on this miltary action? I hereby tag Flea, Signout, Clark, GruntDoc and Dr. Rob. For those not tagged who have an suggestion, feel free to comment here. Or at the Globe’s website. Or both!