The braindroppings of the Kaufmans and selected others.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
'Cause they stand on a wall. And they say, "Nothing's gonna hurt you tonight. Not on my watch."
- Aaron Sorkin, "A Few Good Men"
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Voyeur technology improvements
Sure these will be used for "birdwatching"...
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Adult stem cell breakthrough
Pillage Idiot notes a breakthrough in adult stem cell research:
The Australian reports that a research team (partially funded by the Catholic Church) succeeded in growing adult stem cells harvested from the nose. These cells appear to be able to deliver everything that embryonic stem cell research promises, but without the medical and ethical side-effects.
Notwithstanding the good news, apparently, having the Catholic Church on the side of science, health, and morality all at the same time was too much for a Federal Health bureaucrat who delivered a much-needed slap of agnosticism:Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott, who officially launched the publication of the team's paper in the peer-reviewed journal Developmental Dynamics, steered away from describing the apparent breakthrough as a godsend.
"It's a science-send not a godsend," he said. "But if adult stem cell research is a prospect, as this particular project seems to suggest, well then, all those moral dilemmas we were wrestling with a few years ago...we may be delivered from."
My father opines below that the Schiavo case is one of "judicial murder."
As much as I hate to disagree with my father, I think he's wrong here. The Schiavo case is a horrible tragedy, and one that unfortunately has become politicized.
The issue of whether Terry Schiavo wants to be kept alive is an issue that has been examined thoroughly by the courts, and that's the sole issue. The courts have repeatedly found that she does not wish to be kept alive. Yes, there are published reports of, as my father notes, nefarious acts by Mr. Schiavo, allegations that this all about money, and so forth. But the courts found that evidence, such as it is, not to be compelling. I cannot see how we can substitute our judgment in this case, based as it is on information gleaned from 3rd hand reports in the media, for that of several courts, including a Federal District Court judge and, this morning, a Federal Court of Appeals.
Yes, I am disturbed that this is an issue of removing a feeding tube. Certainly, that's something more morally problematic than the removal of a respirator. Jewish law views the two differently, and, to my understanding, permits the removal of a respirator but not a feeding tube. But, thankfully, in this case, it's not my decision to substitute Jewish law or my moral concepts for those of Terry Schiavo. If the right to life means anything, it includes the right to decide how it ends. The courts have found that Terry Schiavo has made this decision, and as such, that decision should be respected.
To the extent this tragedy can have any positives, perhaps it will increase the use of living wills and health care proxies. I have a living will and a health care proxy which spells out what I want if, G-d forbid, I should ever be in a persistent vegetative state. I urge everyone to have one made up, to avoid being the subject of a politicized battle. Make your wishes clear now, so that a court doesn't have to try to figure it out.
I have become increasingly concerned with the Terry Schiavo situation as it has progressed. I have now reached the conclusion that we are witnessing nothing less than a case of judicial murder.
I do not think that the use of that term is hyperbolic. We have here a situation where a Court has ordered the killing of a person (make no mistake, it is "killing" not "allowing her to die") upon the sole evidence given by her titular husband that this would have been her intention. This man, Mr. Schiavo, her sole guardian, will become eligible to receive a huge amount of money at the moment that Terry Schiavo draws her last breath. If ever there was a more blatant case of conflict of interest I have yet to hear of it.
There is other evidence, which was ignored by the Court, in the form of affidavits from at least two of Terry's caregivers, that Terry was sentient and responsive. They attest to the fact that each time they tried to give her therapy, or even bring her out of her room, Mr. Schiavo threatened them, with the support of the institution that employed them. One of these caregivers swore that on at least two occasions, Mr. Schiavo injected Terry with insulin, which would have killed her had not immediate remedial action been taken. On at least one of these occasions, the nurse immediately reported the incident to the institution and to the police. She was terminated by her employer on the next day. She has tried to publicize these allegations for years, but was unsuccessful until she appeared on radio and television with Sean Hannity .
Only one doctor has diagnosed Terry as being in a permanent vegetative state. He spent a total of 45 minutes with her. Another doctor, a neurologist who spent 10 hours with her, has said that she could be rehabilitated to some degree, and this doctor was nominated for a Nobel Prize in this specific field!
Furthermore, there is no medical evidence as to the reason why Terry Schiavo collapsed in the first place. Her husband has said that it was brought on by bulimia, but there is no other evidence to verify that she had that condition, and several of her friends have denied that she was bulimic.
When there is doubt, the default should be life, not death - and there is plenty of doubt here... doubt that Terry Schiavo's intent would have been to die in the case of an irreversible vegetative condition, and doubt that she is, in fact, in an irreversible vegetative condition at all.
We are told that the majority of Americans believe that Terry Schiavo should die. However, these people are substituting there own intentions for themselves that they be "permitted to die" (again, the euphemism) were they in this situation, and assuming that that was Terry's intent. But they don't know that. Noone knows that. As previously stated, the only evidence of that comes from someone with a flagrant motive for wanting her dead.
As we countenance the withholding of sustenance from this woman, our ethical underpinning is eroding.
Wake up! We are witnessing the slow murder of Terry Schiavo. Let's call it what it is.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Don't worry, they're watching out for you...
NYT: "Filibustering is bad! No, wait, it's good!"
Saul pointed out this rather amusing note in the Weekly Standard:
Obligatory New York Times Hypocrisy Item
A January 1, 1995, Times editorial on proposals to restrict the use of Senate filibusters:In the last session of Congress, the Republican minority invoked an endless string of filibusters to frustrate the will of the majority. This relentless abuse of a time-honored Senate tradition so disgusted Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, that he is now willing to forgo easy retribution and drastically limit the filibuster. Hooray for him. . . . Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate views, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, . . . an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.
A March 6, 2005, Times editorial on the same subject:
The Republicans are claiming that 51 votes should be enough to win confirmation of the White House's judicial nominees. This flies in the face of Senate history. . . . To block the nominees, the Democrats' weapon of choice has been the filibuster, a time-honored Senate procedure that prevents a bare majority of senators from running roughshod. . . . The Bush administration likes to call itself "conservative," but there is nothing conservative about endangering one of the great institutions of American democracy, the United States Senate, for the sake of an ideological crusade.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
If you need a notary in Florida
This guy's available, although, as Dave Barry notes, I don't want to know where he keeps his stamp...
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
For the literate militant...
Ok, so this is interesting...
This is clearly a phenomenal product for our more literate terrorists, enabling them to simultaneously terrorize their countrymen and catch up on the latest Danielle Steele novel.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Very Beginner Sushi
Although the restaurants mentioned are in Los Angeles, this article from the LA Times gives a nice primer on how to really enjoy sushi...
Thursday, March 10, 2005
"Law Student" racism and anti-Semitism...
This post on Volokh is pretty scary, to me.
He notes a law professor who wrote to him regarding a different Volokh post:
I read with some horror, and admiration for Eugene's forthrightness, the exchange with the NeoNazis who began "counting Jews" on the UCLA law faculty. These fringe nuts are a bit scary, but I must confess I find the following even scarier, since it involves the kids who are or may be our students:
Click on a few of the threads that are called up, and you'll see what I mean.
This purports to be a prelaw discussion site, and it appears a large number of applicants and current law students post there. If the appalling anti-semitism isn't enough, then try the racism:
Perhaps if you called attention to this, the site's managers might "clean up" the content a bit? And perhaps students might be encouraged to move to the more mature and civil prelaw sites, such as www.lawdiscussion.org.
Volokh correctly notes that the private message board could, naturally, shut down the posts without impacting the 1st Amendment, but goes on to posit that people are responding to the anti-Semitic and racist posts, and that "[p]roviding a forum for these posts, in a context where they can be quickly responded to, may actually be something of a public service." I'm not so sure that's true. I understand his reasoning but I'm really not sure I agree.
Frequently Asked Questions About TiVo
As some of you know, I consider to be TiVo just below Saran Wrap and Liquid Prell when it comes to Inventions Which Have Bettered Humanity.
Accordingly, I note these answers to frequently asked questions about TiVo.
Q: Will TiVo change my life?
A: No, TiVo will not change your life so much as He will destroy your previous life, permitting a new and improved life to rise, phoenix-like, from your ashes. Switching from cable television to satellite is “change.” Moving to TiVo is closer to rebirth.
Today's indication of the upcoming apocalypse...
At least according to The New York Post, prison could be the next beauty fad, since Martha Stewart's apparent blossoming while in custody.
A stint in a minimum-security facility looks like the fashionable new way to a mind-body makeover, thanks to the freshly sprung Diva of Domesticity.
. . . .
"A short stay in a low-security prison could be the new ashram," says Lesley Jane Seymour, the self-professed, constantly stressed editor of Marie Claire magazine.
"You'd get a nice break from the rat race - and you'd really be able to relax because it's probably one of the few places in the world that nobody can reach you," Seymour says.
"I would use the break to get rid of the dark circles under my eyes," she adds. "Did you notice how relaxed Martha's face looks ? How happy she looks? It's a far cry from the image she had - the soulless female executive who had clawed her way to the top - before she went into prison."
. . . .
[Fashion Designer Betsey] Johnson says, like Martha, she would focus on pastimes she rarely enjoys, like reading, and the biggie: losing weight.
"I bet if I was in jail I'd finally get around to doing the Carmen Electra striptease workout. I carry it around with me everywhere, but so far, I've only had time to watch it once."
I think we should encourage this idea and keep these lunatics off the streets...
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Attention, members of the Armed Forces...
Saturday, March 05, 2005
This was the cover article from last week's Weekly Standard. It is written by David Gelernter who is, in my opinion, one of the great thinkers of our age (you may recall that he was one of the victims of the Unabomber, who survived).
It details the philosphical underpinnings of Benjamin Disraeli, who is acknowledged by all to be the father of modern conservatism. I have studied Disraeli for a long time. I already knew most (if not all) of what Gelernter wrote, but he has put it all in a context that made it all new and absolutely mindblowing for me.
Friday, March 04, 2005
The King of Thrones
Thursday, March 03, 2005
The coming crackdown on blogging
Ok, this story, to me, underscores exactly how the campaign finance laws impact free speech.
The FEC exempted the Internet from the talons of McCain-Feingold in 2002, but a District Court decision overturned that exemption. Accordingly, a blog linking to a candidate's homepage could theoretically be considered an ad and a donation that would have to be valued and disclosed.
And exactly how are they supposed to value that? And if I link to, say, a press release on the Rice for President '08 website (it could happen...) I have to coordinate a filing with the U.S. government. This seems amazingly chilling on free speech, to me.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Pillage Idiot on "Boiling the Frog"
Pillage Idiot has an interesting post entitled "Boiling the frog" about the Howard Dean ad run by the Republican Jewish Coalition and how the Democratic Party is missing the point...