Reading his biography of Thomas Aquinas, I came across this bit that I liked:
I apologise for the opening words of this chapter to all those excellent and eminent men of science, who are engaged in the real study of humanity in its relation to biology. But I rather fancy that they will be the last to deny that there has been a somewhat disproportionate disposition, in popular science, to turn the study of human beings into the study of savages. And savagery is not history; it is either the beginning of history or the end of it. I suspect that the greatest scientists would agree that only too many professors have thus been lost in the bush or the jungle; professors who wanted to study anthropology and never got any further than anthropophagy.
Another bit, that’s good for us misanthropes to remember:
And for [Aquinas] the point is always that Man is not a balloon going up into the sky nor a mole burrowing merely in the earth; but rather a thing like a tree whose roots are fed from the earth, while its highest branches seem to rise almost to the stars.
Hubbard posted this at 3:58 PM CDT on Friday, November 30th, 2007 as Faith
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I’m not a big fan of shooting dogs, and, presuming the deputy was allowed to do what he did, I’m a little bothered with a law that let’s police put down a dog without some sort due process (wouldn’t this be a taking?).
That being said: anyone, with the intention of killing it, who can shoot a dog three times with a rifle without actually killing it should not be trusted with firearms. There are innocent people all over Idaho at risk anytime that man takes aim at the broad sides of barns.
And does the dog now get to live? They’re now suing, and there’s no talk of the Sheriff’s Department returning to finish the job.
Note: I know what you’re thinking. “But what if it was a werewolf, and the cop didn’t know it so he didn’t use silver bullets?” The story says kids were getting off a bus nearby, so I’m pretty sure it was daylight at the time, which would preclude lycanthropy as an excuse.
Apollo posted this at 2:44 PM CDT on Friday, November 30th, 2007 as Uncategorized
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Dr. K on Bush and the embryonic stem cell debate:
“If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.”
— James A. Thomson
A decade ago, Thomson was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells. Last week, he (and Japan’s Shinya Yamanaka) announced one of the great scientific breakthroughs since the discovery of DNA: an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells.
Even a scientist who cares not a whit about the morality of embryo destruction will adopt this technique because it is so simple and powerful. The embryonic stem cell debate is over.
Which allows a bit of reflection on the storm that has raged ever since the August 2001 announcement of President Bush’s stem cell policy. The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president — so vilified for a moral stance — been so thoroughly vindicated.
Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance. Precisely because, to borrow Thomson’s phrase, Bush was made “a little bit uncomfortable” by the implications of embryonic experimentation. Precisely because he therefore decided that some moral line had to be drawn.
In doing so, he invited unrelenting demagoguery by an unholy trinity of Democratic politicians, research scientists and patient advocates who insisted that anyone who would put any restriction on the destruction of human embryos could be acting only for reasons of cynical politics rooted in dogmatic religiosity — a “moral ayatollah,” as Sen. Tom Harkin so scornfully put it.
Bush got it right. Not because he necessarily drew the line in the right place. I have long argued that a better line might have been drawn — between using doomed and discarded fertility-clinic embryos created originally for reproduction (permitted) and using embryos created solely to be disassembled for their parts, as in research cloning (prohibited). But what Bush got right was to insist, in the face of enormous popular and scientific opposition, on drawing a line at all, on requiring that scientific imperative be balanced by moral considerations.
History will look at Bush’s 2001 speech and be surprised how balanced and measured it was, how much respect it gave to the other side. Read it. Here was a presidential policy pronouncement that so finely and fairly drew out the case for both sides that until the final few minutes of his speech, you had no idea where the policy would end up.
So here’s part of Bush’s speech from 2001:
As I thought through this issue, I kept returning to two fundamental questions: First, are these frozen embryos human life, and therefore, something precious to be protected? And second, if they’re going to be destroyed anyway, shouldn’t they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives?
I’ve asked those questions and others of scientists, scholars, bioethicists, religious leaders, doctors, researchers, members of Congress, my Cabinet, and my friends. I have read heartfelt letters from many Americans. I have given this issue a great deal of thought, prayer and considerable reflection. And I have found widespread disagreement.
On the first issue, are these embryos human life — well, one researcher told me he believes this five-day-old cluster of cells is not an embryo, not yet an individual, but a pre-embryo. He argued that it has the potential for life, but it is not a life because it cannot develop on its own.
An ethicist dismissed that as a callous attempt at rationalization. Make no mistake, he told me, that cluster of cells is the same way you and I, and all the rest of us, started our lives. One goes with a heavy heart if we use these, he said, because we are dealing with the seeds of the next generation.
And to the other crucial question, if these are going to be destroyed anyway, why not use them for good purpose — I also found different answers. Many argue these embryos are byproducts of a process that helps create life, and we should allow couples to donate them to science so they can be used for good purpose instead of wasting their potential. Others will argue there’s no such thing as excess life, and the fact that a living being is going to die does not justify experimenting on it or exploiting it as a natural resource.
At its core, this issue forces us to confront fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science. It lies at a difficult moral intersection, juxtaposing the need to protect life in all its phases with the prospect of saving and improving life in all its stages.
Bush was right. On this issue, three cheers for the president.
I wonder if John Edwards will admit that he was wrong (from Dr. Krauthammer again):
This is John Edwards on Monday at a rally in Newton, Iowa: “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”
In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.
Where does one begin to deconstruct this outrage?
First, the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate is one of the great mysteries of biology. The answer is not remotely around the corner. It could take a generation to unravel. To imply, as Edwards did, that it is imminent if only you elect the right politicians is scandalous.
Second, if the cure for spinal cord injury comes, we have no idea where it will come from. There are many lines of inquiry. Stem cell research is just one of many possibilities, and a very speculative one at that. For 30 years I have heard promises of miracle cures for paralysis (including my own, suffered as a medical student). The last fad, fetal tissue transplants, was thought to be a sure thing. Nothing came of it.
As a doctor by training, I’ve known better than to believe the hype — and have tried in my own counseling of people with new spinal cord injuries to place the possibility of cure in abeyance. I advise instead to concentrate on making a life (and a very good life it can be) with the hand one is dealt. The greatest enemies of this advice have been the snake-oil salesmen promising a miracle around the corner. I never expected a candidate for vice president to be one of them.
Third, the implication that Christopher Reeve was prevented from getting out of his wheelchair by the Bush stem cell policies is a travesty.
Hubbard posted this at 1:47 PM CDT on Friday, November 30th, 2007 as George Bush Rules!, Kraut-hammered, Science!
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The Huck on immigration:
The former governor said the borders should be secured and said he opposes sanctuary cities shielding illegal aliens and opposes amnesty, though he does think illegal aliens can be put on a path to citizenship — something many conservatives equate to amnesty.
And so it begins.
He also said he’s willing to take the heat for pushing for illegal alien students to be able to get taxpayer-funded financial aid and college scholarships.
“Our country is better than that, to punish children for what their parents did in breaking the law. If that costs me the election, it costs me the election, but somewhere along the line we cannot just pander to the anger and hostility without challenging it,” he said.
Good God, man, again with the “anger” crap, and the “our country is better than that” schtick. This is sounding exactly like George Bush on immigration: attack the nutcases who want to enforce the laws, because they’re heartless and don’t understand the humanity of it all.
Mr. Huckabee said he will produce a full plan to address illegal entry at some point, and he said he hasn’t worked out specifics yet for who would get a path to citizenship and how.
Retch. Isn’t this code for, “I’ll announce a broadbased amnesty as part of my comprehensive reform proposal…just as soon as I get the nomination”?
“At some point, they do have to go back and start, they do have to pay a monetary fine, there has to be some type of restitution made for the law that has been broken, but it has to be reasonable and commensurate with the violation,” he said.
Well, it’s just a little immigration law. This sounds like he’s preparing to break it to conservatives that he only supports small fines.
I’m getting a really bad sinking feeling in my gut about this guy, and those rubes in Iowa who seem to be buying into him. Is the Republican party about to get rolled?
Apollo posted this at 8:14 AM CDT on Friday, November 30th, 2007 as Audacity of Hype, The Melting Pot Boils Over
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As I was leaving the Apple Store in Pasadena today, after wading through a checkout line 25 people deep, I was accosted by a LaRouche supporter asking if I had time to “Discuss the collapse of the U.S. economy.” I turned around, looked at the chock full Apple Store, and laughed in the poor idiot’s face.
Jamie posted this at 5:30 PM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Commie Recrudescence, Dirty Hippies
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While Fox News is pretty blatant in its conservative leanings, CNN goes to great lengths to hide its marked liberal bias.
However, in the age of the internet it is becoming harder and harder to hide their blatant attempts at influencing viewers.
As Michelle points out, finding background information on these people isn’t very hard. If CNN was truly in the dark about their affiliations then it is simple incompetence. If they knew about the affiliations (which seems likely given how accessible that information is) then it is nothing short of blatant propaganda.
CNN has really fallen on its face on this one – but don’t expect the Kossites or Mooreons to care that there is biased journalism out there benefiting their side. At least here at SB we have equal hatred for the biases of Anderson Cooper and Bill O’Reilly.
Apparently the Democrats are canceling their debate because of the WGA strike. The only reason that this would affect the WGA is if the event were scripted. Interesting.
Jamie posted this at 1:26 PM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Audacity of Hype, Journalism
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Since we all know everything is his fault.
Jamie posted this at 1:11 PM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as George Bush Rules!, It's Economics - Stupid!
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What happens when racism and socialism join forces? Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe’s chief statistician has said it is impossible to work out the country’s latest inflation rate because of the lack of goods in shops.
“There are too many data gaps,” the Central Statistical Office’s Moffat Nyoni told state media.
Many staple goods are often absent from shop shelves after the government ordered prices to be halved or frozen in a bid to stem galloping inflation.
September’s inflation rate was put at almost 8,000%, the world’s highest.
Other reports suggest the rate could be at near 15,000% and the International Monetary Fund had warned it could reach 100,000% by the end of the year.
The inflation rate is growing exponentially. Sweet Pete, man.
Last month, the central bank offered loans, known as Bacossis, to businesses at 25% interest to restore supplies to shops, AP news agency reports.
That sentence is interesting. In America, 25% is more akin to the default rate on a credit card than the rate of a government-funded loan. In Zimbabwe, no matter how much money you borrow, it will be worthless by the end of next month, so 25% of nothing is nothing. Why anyone would take out such a loan, why the government would expect to be paid back (“You owe us nothing plus 25%, so pay up!”), and how pumping the full of economy bellow inflation rate loans will help matters are questions we’ll just have to chalk up to the wondrous mystery that is Robert Mugabe.
Apollo posted this at 12:30 PM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Commie Recrudescence, Those Wacky Foreigners
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This is one of the best so far. (CBS News story here) Traffic stop turns into a man writhing on the ground. You want to see the speed limit sign you ignored? That’s a tasing. Screaming pregnant woman gets out of the car when her husband gets tased? That’s a threatened tasing. It’s awesome when the guy demands “Read me my rights” and the cop just keeps repeating, “You’re going to jail.” “You can’t arrest me unless you tell me why you’re arresting me. How fast was I going?” “Get in the car.” It seems like, after all of this, the guy still doesn’t know how fast he was supposedly going.
Toward the end, listen to the cop explain it to the wife. The cop says that he used the Taser because the guy was walking away from him (which occurred after the cop pulled out the Taser). As the cop says at the end, “Nah, we’re not playing this game.”
Take the Taser out of that thug’s hands, and absolutely nothing happens here except a disputed traffic stop. If you watch the CBS News clip, the cop actually had the option to just write “Refuses to sign” on the traffic ticket and leave it at that. As is, the cop assaulted an unarmed and nonthreatening citizen completely without cause. This is not how a free people are policed.
Any guesses on disciplinary action? On the CBS News clip, the guy from the Utah Highway Patrol gives the old we’re-going-to-have-an-investigation line, and says they won’t jump to conclusions, etc, etc. If this is not it, is there any situation in which cops will flatly condemn another cop’s actions? It should be very plain by now that these people cannot be trusted with these weapons.
Addendum: You want to know the definition of “classy”? After the second cop shows up, the Taser-happy thug informs him that he tased a citizen. It’s off-screen so you can’t see what’s going on, but judging from the audio the second cop then asks the citizen whether it hurt.
Apollo posted this at 8:04 AM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Liberty and/or Security
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…he would also like it if candidates said they support “reasonable regulations” on other Constitutional rights, like freedom of speech, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, or one of those other unimportant freedoms hanging around there.
Of course there are going to be some restrictions at the outer boundaries of the second amendment (no privately owned nukes), but that’s true of all Constitutional rights (no shouting fire in a crowded theater). Still, when a politician stands in front of a group of Americans and says that he supports “reasonable regulations” on a Constitutional right, he should everywhere and always be booed.
Submitted: You cannot be a “civil libertarian” unless you support all Constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.
Apollo posted this at 7:24 AM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Liberty and/or Security, We don't need no stinkin' Constitution
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The One True Conservative™:
With the Biblical literalist question, you see what Bush and Rove have achieved: the suspension of secular politics in the Republican party, and, by inference, the country as a whole. This has become, thanks to Bush and Rove, a religious contest. And that’s why, in today’s GOP, Huckabee is the proper leader. It’s a church; and he’s a minister. It’s a match made in heaven.
Someone has forgotten the most essential fact of American politics, layed out by Tocqueville in 1835 and still true today: In America, the people rule. Politicians very rarely start social phenomena, and certainly neither Bush nor Rove started this one. Whatever’s going on with the blurring of politics and religion has been happening for a long time.
If I may assess blame, because this is something I don’t particularly care for either, it should be laid at the feet of the hardcore secularists. When beating back religion is a political issue, one can hardly be surprised when supporting religion becomes a political issue. You can’t blame Bush and Rove for riding a wave they didn’t create; it would be anti-democratic for politicians to ignore popular sentiment. If some guy like Mike Huckabee wins the Republican nomination (God help us), can we really say it’s because of a president whose approval rating in hovering in the low thirties?
Maybe the hardcore secularists are right. I don’t think so, but maybe. At any rate, the religious right is a fundamentally reactionary movement. One group started a culture war, and sure enough the people they were fighting felt threatened. It’s all George Bush’s fault.
That’s a pretty big achievement for the village idiot.
Apollo posted this at 6:51 AM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Amer-I-Can!, Audacity of Hype, Kulturkampf
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I stumbled on this video of President Bush being interviewed at length on Irish television. It occurred to me that I’d never seen him address a foreign audience directly before. I cringed at the results, even when I agreed with the sentiment he was failing to express.
conor friedersdorf posted this at 5:00 AM CDT on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 as Uncategorized
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Rasmussen has Huckabee in third place nationally. Combine that with his handy second place showing in Iowa polls, and we have the making of a nightmare scenario: George Bush, minus the fiscal discipline and commitment to small government.
Apollo posted this at 9:18 PM CDT on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 as Audacity of Hype
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There’s still a chance this could be awesome.
Jamie posted this at 4:17 PM CDT on Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 as Heroes, Kulturkampf, Nerdom
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An interesting article over at WaPo. I think they are essentially correct in their analysis of the disaffected libertarians power in American politics. They fail, however, in their understanding of the roots of the movement. They correctly identify Barry Goldwater as the source of the modern Republican libertarian movement and yet no mention is made of the original libertarian Thomas Jefferson. They also seem to think that modern libertarianism is focused among kookey Hollywood types and college students. In reality libertarianism is a deep seated intellectual movement that has been around since the founding of America.
Jamie posted this at 6:01 PM CDT on Monday, November 26th, 2007 as Uncategorized
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