An agnostic looks at stem cell research Friday, Nov 30 2007 

I recently read an article by some self-serving bitch complaining about how the GOP hates science and some other bullshit like that. If you will remember, just a bit ago there was a breakthrough in stem cell research that was truly amazing. Skipping right over all ethical problems with embryonic research, it now looks like scientists will be able to use plain old skin cells to do the same tricks. All of this involves some pretty impressive sounding stuff that I will just trust is, well, impressive enough to work.


This Michael Kinsley fellow is going to hold on to his grudge because he feels that GOP has pushed science back for years:

[E]ven if this were a true turning point in stem-cell research, people like me are not going to quickly forget those six lost years. I am 56. Last year I had a kind of brain surgery that dramatically reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s. It received government approval only five years ago. Every year that goes by, science opens new doors, and every year, as you get older and your symptoms perhaps get worse, doors get shut. Six years of delay in a field moving as fast as stem-cell research means a lot of people for whom doors may not open until it is time for them to shut.

It’s so nice that he cares so much about a cure for Parkinson’s. Oh wait, doesn’t he have Parkinson’s? Yeah, I guess that makes you a pompous asshole. Perhaps the entire enterprise of going about things carefully from an ethical standpoint should go on hold until we find a cure for Michael.

Alright, so maybe some particular members of government acted unscientifically. Still, thanks to whoever helped guide research away from embryonic stem cells is partially responsible for not only the potential death of bitches like Michael, but is also responsible for pushing science into a new, unoffensive branch. And from what I hear, the biggest leaps in stem cells have come from non-embryonic circles anyway; why isn’t this guy gushing about how stem cells (of the non-embryonic flavor) are bounding their way towards a cure for Type-1 diabetes and, hopefully Alzheimer’s? Oh wait, he has Parkinson’s, not Alzheimer’s.



What I’m reading Friday, Nov 30 2007 

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

I’m only four chapters into it right now, so maybe I should not comment on it. I will anyway though. This has been an absolutely delightful read this far. To be honest, when one thinks of intellectual history we tend to ignore early America, but this book shows how wrong we are. I’m knee deep into the story of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and I must say that I’ve been shocked by quite a few of the things I’ve been reading. For example, I never knew the struggle between the unionists and the abolitionists was that bad. I also didn’t think that Emerson had much to do with that entire political and ethical scene going on in the North (but be honest, reading Emerson detaches you from political scrums). Apparently Wendell Holmes and Emerson had quite a bit of contact with each other, and even a feud.

More to come on this later.

Patriot Act Lite? Thursday, Nov 29 2007 

Read about it here.

The Violent Radicalisation and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, co-authored by the former chair of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Jane Harmon, a California Democrat, passed the House by an overwhelming 400-6 vote last month, and will soon be considered by the Senate.

I don’t really know what this bill means, but it is either superfluous OR it is stronger than it sounds and is unconstitutional. Here is what the bill entails:

Harman’s bill would convene a 10-member national commission to study “violent radicalisation” (defined as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically-based violence to advance political, religious, or social change”) and “homegrown terrorism” (defined as “the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States […] to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”).

The bill also directs the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to designate a university-based research “centre of excellence” where academics, policy-makers, members of the private sector and other stakeholders can collaborate to better understand and prevent radicalisation and homegrown terrorism. Some experts are concerned that politics will unduly influence which institution DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff will designate.

There is enough ambiguity in that language to allow quite a bit of bullshitting, which is never good because politicians love to bullshit. Good thing is will cost us 22 million dollars over the next 4 years to implement it.

Is Naomi Wolfe “way out there”? Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

I don’t think she is crazy. Under our current administration our liberties are being consistently ignored/taken away. Now, whether Bush is the new Hitler or Stalin I’m not willing to speculate. He will be out of power in a year. I wish she would have broadened it a bit and aimed the gun at the government in general, and not treated individuals. Our government is taking actions that are strictly unconstitutional and idiots like John Kasich ignore what the person in front of him is saying. If you look at the issue from a completely neutral position, there are obvious similarities between the campaigns of those past dictators and the general direction of the US federal government. I have been motivated to pick up Naomi’s book and I will probably say a little something about it in a few weeks.

Kucinich/Paul ’08? Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

Check this out:

Won’t happen, but it’s an interesting combination to think about to say the least.

Some more federal bullshit Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

The future of an Evansville-based company that produces a “private voluntary barter currency” known as the Liberty Dollar is in question after federal agents raided the facility this week, according to an e-mail sent by its founder.

This is the worst kind of thing to happen. The creators of the Liberty Dollar did nothing illegal and were raided by the FBI. Have questions about the raid? Follow these simple steps:

FBI Agent Wendy Osborne, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Indianapolis office, directed all questions on the raid to the Western District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office. A spokeswoman there said she had no information on the investigation.

This is terrorism on the American people, and the American people do not care. We need to pursue answers on this one. According to the report, the feds took:

*All the gold
*All the silver
*All the platinum
*Two tons of the new “Ron Paul” money (cheesy title, but no reason to steal it)


This Orwellian action is absolutely disgraceful for the American government. They have absolutely overstepped their bounds and we need to call them out on it.

Being Stephen King Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

I found this kind of funny:

“I’m in the supermarket one day with my cart, and there’s this woman, about 95,” King recalled at the Regency the other day. “She says, ‘I know who you are. You write those stories, those awful horror stories . . . I don’t like that. I like uplifting movies like that ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ So I said, ‘I wrote that.’ And she said, ‘No, you didn’t.’ And that was it. Talk about surreal. I went to myself, for a minute, ‘It’s not very much like my other stuff. Maybe I didn’t write it!’ “


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