Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ozymandias of the West Wing

I was a bit surprised by the traffic my last Grand Rounds post generated, until I looked at my Sitemeter and found that a significant percentage of the new traffic had nothing to do with my apolitical post about stem cells research.  With great effort, I went through that post and removed all the political commentary.  I figured it might be more effective if I presented just the facts.  Anyway, part of the traffic came, not from that, but from the O'Neill NSC memo, which has gotten some renewed interest in the wake of the Downing Street memo.  

In this post, I try to explain why the media make a big deal out of some things, and not others.  The explanation involves Pet Rocks and the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Continue reading here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

An Explainer Regarding Cloning

South Korean scientists announced an advance in the development of stem cells, and Congress has been working on legislationthat would broaden federal funding for such research in the USA.  These developments have brought the controversy to the forefront of the national consciousness.  I've written a post to explain some of the technology involved, and some of the ethicalissues that have arisen.  Continue reading here.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Question for Tom DeLay...

By now, many people have heard or read about reaction to the mention of his name on the TV show, Law and Order.  In other DeLay news, NYT informs us that "Judge Rules Group Tied to DeLay Violated Election Law."  The Red State blog has the latest on that.  

Getting back to the Laws and Order flap, which is more interesting,
During the episode, a police officer stymied for leads jokes to his partner, "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."
it turns out that even the loyal Fox News has covered it.  A blog, The Stakeholder, provides us with a copy of DeLay's response.  An excerpt follows:  
"I can only assume last night's slur was in response to comments I have made in the past about the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary, as prescribed in our constitutional system of checks and balances."
Mr. DeLay knows perfectly well that they were referring to a comment he had made about federal judges who had rendered a judgment that he disagreed with.  He said "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."  That comment was played up as a veiled threat.  

What got my attention, though, was DeLay's reference to "the constitutional system of checks and balances."  He says the constitutional system calls for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary.  I'm not sure what the constitutional system is.  I do know that the Constitution itself says no such thing.  I read it, twice, just to be sure.  The constitutional check on judicial authority is the Senate's role of advice and consent regarding nominations to the federal courts.  There is no constitutional provision for Congress to closely monitor the judiciary.  

So the question for Mr. DeLay is this: what Constitution are you following?  

Did he write his own?  If so, is he planning to share it with us anytime soon?

Question: What is this, and why is it important?

I got the document here, on the website about Ron Suskind's book about Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty.  It is the agenda for President Bush's first National Security Council meeting.  The agenda is stamped "January 31, 2001."  That was less than two weeks after the inauguration.  The purpose of the meeting was "To review the current state-of-play (including a CIA briefing on Iraq) and to examine policy questions on how to proceed."  The third item on the agenda: "Tab C: Executive Summary: Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis."  

This indicates that the Bush administration thought that planning for Post-Saddam Iraq was the most important security issue they faced.  Why else would it be the topic at the very first NSC meeting?  It would be a matter of interest to see what conclusions they reached "on how to proceed," but that remains secret information.  Now the Downing Street memo is raising similar questions.  Continue reading here.

Even a Man Can Do It

Probably a lot of people who went to elementary school in Washtenaw County remember taking a field trip to tour the highly successful Chelsea Milling Company.  Our sixth grade class at Fletcher went on the tour.  Anyway, a local photoblogger, Argusmaniac (I'm Male, 48 and Taken.) put up a nice photo of the factory.  That reminded me of a local story.  

According to the company's website:
Mabel's magic mixes began in 1930, when her twin sons, Howard and Dudley, came home for lunch with two motherless friends. When the visiting brothers opened their lunches, Mabel shook her head. Those sad, flat biscuits! Fluffy biscuits are not easy to make, but these were like hardtack. It was then Mabel decided to make a ready-mix for biscuits.

Howdy Holmes, Mabel's grandson, reflected on her motivation: "My grandmother Mabel was shocked by the hockey puck biscuits the motherless boy's dad had made. She wanted to save homemakers time in the kitchen and make a mix even a man could prepare."
In the 1930's is was not politically incorrect to say something like that.  I might be wrong about this, but I seem to recall that, even in the 60's, that line -- "a mix even a man could prepare." -- was used during the tour, with no eyebrows being raised.  

Our teacher, Mr. Wheeler, was an Air Force veteran who served during the Korean War.  But he was no Top Gun macho nut.  Rather, he made of point of teaching the proper balance between humility and pride.  It would have been like him to use that story to point out that there are some things that women do better than men.  

Now, he probably couldn't get away with something like that.  At the time, though, feminism was just building up momentum, and it was common for progressive men to say such things.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Little Disagreement

Civilized couples do not usually make their disagreements public, but sometimes it is appropriate.  
My wife thinks that out government is going to authorize direct combat service for women, eventually.  She also thinks there will be a draft.  I disagree.  It is in the best interest of those in power to have a military that is too small.  Then they can justify hiring contractors.  With cost-plus contracts, the longer the insurgency goes on, the more pipelines get blown up, and the smaller the military is, more money goes into the accounts of the Coalition of the Billing.

Of course, we all know that private companies always find the most efficient way to do things, and this always leads to savings for the taxpayer, so why complain?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CNS Pipeline Update;
Was Dr. Angell Right After All?

Sub-subtitle: A study of the intersection between pharmaceutical science, marketing, and reimbursement

Dapoxetine  is under review by the US FDA for treatment of premature ejaculation, having completed phase III trials.  The company announced that makes it plans to market 30mg and 60mg doses.  Dapoxetine is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor.  Presumably, it acts by stimulating the 5HT-2 receptors, thereby diminishing the strength of perception of sexual stimulation.  This effect occurs in some, but not all people; the reasons for the variation in response are not at all clear.  In this post, I review what little information is publicly available about dapoxetine and revisit the controversy over me-too drugs, then engage in speculation about possible repercussions in the insurance industry.  Continue reading here.

Overheard in Ann Arbor

I was leaving the Grizzly Peak and noticed an elderly couple peering in the windows of the deserted Del Rio.  As I walked by, the woman, no doubt lamenting the loss, said one word: "shame," and shook her head.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Don't Try This At Home

I learned from Angry Bear that the US government has put in place a way to monitor apparel and textile imports:
The system will allow the Department and the public timely access to preliminary textile and apparel data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (aggregated on a category basis), allowing decision makers to more quickly analyze the impact of imports on the U.S. market.
There's more, and there are various economy reasons why what they are trying to do is a bad idea.  I'll leave it to others to explore the economic and political implications.  Still, it is interesting to note that we have the capacity to monitor apparel so closely.  Unfortunately, we cannot do the same for our own soldiers.  From An Atheist Soldier:
New Uniforms
May 21st, 2005

Monday we start wearing the new digital camouflage patterned uniforms (same pattern as this background). I have to lend out two pairs of my pants to others in the Platoon. We are all required to start wearing the new uniforms, but not everyone has them yet. So, to solve the problem we have to let other people’s ass and crotch funk into our pants. Lovely… and completely unsurprising in so many ways.
Ordinarily, the Corpus Callosum does not post vulgar language.  You never know who's kids are going to be reading, after all.  But soldiers get a pass on their use of vulgarity.  Anyway, we now have real time data on how many blue jeans China is sending us, but we can't figure out how many uniforms our soldiers need.  The fact that we require them to wear uniforms that they do not have is just classic military intelligence.  Even better is this one, found on Amygdala, but originally posted by The Daily Whim:
King, who in civilian life is the Doraville police chief, rolled his eyes at the FAA regulation that requires soldiers — all of whom were armed with an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns and pistols — to surrender pocket knives, nose hair scissors and cigarette lighters.
When I was in college, a guy I knew who had been in the Army told me about the consequences of two conflicting regulations.  No vehicle was allowed to leave the base unless it had a full tank of gas.  And no vehicle could be loaded on a transport plane unless it had an empty gas tank.  He said that it happened all the time, that they would have to take a truck to a nearby air base and load the truck on a plane.  So they would fill up the tank, drive it to the air base, then dump the gas on the ground, prior to loading the truck on the airplane.  Over and over again. 

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Reciprocal Inhibition in the Blogosphere;
Miscellaneous Essay on Psychology

I have noticed that it can be fun to read blogs.  Yesterday, I read 90% Crud, which is, I suppose, a good description of the Blogosphere itself, but which also happens to be the name of one particular blog, which is subtitled as follows: Sure, 90% of weblogs are crud. That's because 90% of everything is crudThe post I noticed contains a proposal to combine TiVo-like video recording with an RSS-like aggregator to make news reports make useful as well as more palatable.  Personally, I think that is a great idea; figuring out how to do that and make it commercially viable is the next project. 

The author, George Hotelling, makes reference to another blog, Creating Passionate Users, authored by Kathy Sierra, who put up a picture of herself on a horse.  She tells us that she learned a lot about human psychology from her horse.  That probably is true, although I think baboons are much better teachers than horses. 

Ms. Sierra on her Icelandic horse

She points out that "You can't be afraid and rational at the same time. Pick one."  At first, it is not obvious how that applies to Mr. Hotelling's proposal, but it does.  Either trust me on that, or go read his post to see how.  There isn't any reason for me to explain it here because he explains it just fine himself, and it is not really the point I am trying to make.  In this post, I review the concept of reciprocal inhibition, and explain why that explains Ms. Sierra's observation.  Continue reading here.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

There Are Some Maps We Don't Want To Be On

The conservative paper, Detroit News, has reported on Bush's recent commencement address at (that's a Technorati tag).  mlive.com has printed the text of his address.  The reason for this focus is that Calvin College (Wikipedia link, which does link to something) is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Previously, Calvin College's only claim to fame was their school scarf, which looks an awful lot like the one that Harry Potter wears.  Apparently, there was quite a run on their scarves and neckties when it was noted that their colors are the same as Gryffindor's.

Mr. Bush made some laudable comments during his speech, but students made some even more laudable comments afterward.  Continue reading here.

Not To Be Outdone

I read Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment, but I don't usually laugh out loud when I read it.  This is an exception:

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Saturday Satire

Not to be outdone.

posted by Juan @ 5/21/2005 02:08:00 PM

Another Long Strange Trip:
What PCP Teaches Us About Science Policy

In the category of Things Found While Looking For Other Things, I noticed that one of my former pharmacology professors, Ed Domino, has published a book: Sixty-One Years of University of Michigan Pharmacology, 1942-2003. (HPP Books, 2004.)  As you can tell from the title, he now is an emeritus professor.

I have not read his book, but I did poke around a bit on the 'net, looking into the history of pharmacological research.  There is an interesting story about Dr. Domino's research that teaches an important lesson for policymakers.  Continue reading here.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Science Does Require Faith

In response to thx's comment:  Oh, I agree, science does require faith.  The difference between scientific dogma and religious dogma is that scientific dogma changes faster.  They both change, I realize; even the Catholic Church updates its dogma every millennium or so.  Scientists do it at least once per century, sometimes once per decade.  Not only that, but the methodology is different: scientists use peer review, whereas churches rely on a council of elders.  I suppose some may argue that dogma that is expected to change every few years is fundamentally different that dogma that is not expected to change, and changes only rarely.  But either way, it still is dogma, in the sense that ultimate proof is not possible.  Scientists, however, do not insist on absolute proof; they are happy with what I call the umpire's truth.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

GR 34

Grand Rounds XXXIV is up at Galen's Log.  Again, we see that it takes a lot of work to host one of those things.  I must say, it does generate a lot of traffic.  Hits here have more than doubled.  I notice also that a higher than usual proportion of visitors are going to more than one page, which is a sign that the visitor is curious about something.  

As a reminder to the rest of the blogging community, anyone is welcome to submit a post; you don't have to have any particular medical expertise.  The usual criteria for a good blog post apply, and some hosts may have their own requests and/or requirements.  To attain the secret knowledge of how to participate, go to the Undisclosed Location to learn the secret location of the next GR, and blogborygmi to learn the secret selection criteria.

Other carnivals are listed here.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Electronic Medical Records: Nobody is Doing it Right

Mark Kleiman (I finally spelled it correctly) has a post on electronic medical records (EMR).  He points out that the VA hospital system has developed, at great cost, a system that actually works quite well.  My wife used to work for the VA, and she thought it was a great system.  There were some glitches connecting to the main hospital computer from satellite clinics, but there were workarounds that got the job done.

Apparently, there is an effort now to develop national standards for EMR.  Mark wonders why the government does not simply adopt the standards of the VA system for the national standards.  He points out that the system is in the public domain, so it shouldn't be difficult to do this.  I guess no trade secrets would be revealed. 
So why, in the scramble to develop a set of standards for national adoption, isn't there active consideration of simply making the VA system the national standard?
Of course, the private corporations that develop EMR systems would object, since they all have a vested interest in the standards.  In this post, I review some of the problems that would arise with the implementation of a national standard for EMR, and present some ideas for a system that would actaully make sense.  Continue reading here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What Can We Do About Uninformed Stereotypes of Mental Illness?

Stereotypes applied to persons with brain disorders tend to be unfair and counterproductive (1 2 3).  Although the problem is common is all areas of medicine, it has proven to be particularly persistent and malicious when the problems produce no outwardly visible signs of impairment.  In this post, I look at an example of such a stereotype, as expressed by someone who really ought to know better, provide scientifically-based refutation of the specific stereotype, then mention what steps can be taken to combat the problem.  Continue reading here.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine

This year, there is a new vaccine available for meningococcal meningitis.  The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has set a goal of immunizing all adolescents, starting at age 11.  The vaccine may be in short supply for the first few years.  As an initial goal, they recommend that all incoming college freshmen be vaccinated.  Apparently, that is the group with the highest risk, especially for those living in dormitories. 

In Ann Arbor, The Michigan Visiting Nurse Association will be offering this vaccine.

Sometimes it may seem...

Sometimes it may seem that I write this blog for others to read. That is not the case. When I was a kid, I used to read the newspaper as soon as I got home from school. I then would play a game with myself. I would put the paper down, then try to remember the most important things I had learned. Then I would try to figure out why I thought those things were important. Other kids were out playing softball or something like that. Now they are journalists, asking softball questions. I could not do that. I am fairly confident that if I attended a press conference and asked the questions that I really wanted to ask, I would never be invited back. Instead, I write this blog. Like the game with the newspaper, I do it to keep informed, and to sharpen my skills at critical thinking. It serves also to keep my writing skills, if not sharp, at least not dull. Others may read it and comment, read it and write their own blogs, or not read it at all.

Intelligent Design vs. intelligent design

First, a little history about my last post.  Before I wrote it, I had read some articles pointed out by thx on his post here.  It's a set of four articles about the relationship between Christianity and psychotherapy.  Although I disagree with a lot of what the authors have to say, I enjoyed reading them, and found them to be both thoughtful and helpful.  The post I wrote after that was followed by a couple of comments.  One was helpful; the other, amusing.  Continue reading here.

These are on my car
I don't wash my car very often.
Does that mean that secular humanists are bad?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Just What A Parent Wants To See...

...In their kid's school newspaper:

Courtesy of Smart Museum
Down with pants!
Students advocated No Pants Day outside the Regenstein Library this Friday by removing their pants and chanting anti-pants themed slogans. They encouraged others to do the same, and while they received several confused looks, most onlookers supported the cause by joining the protest against pants or offering encouraging words.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Only Read This If You Believe in Intelligent Design

An essay on subjective estimates of probability: It's a bit too long, not very interesting, but I think it's an effective refutation of the central tenet of ID.

Continue reading here.

Of Two Minds: Does Neuroscience Diminish the Soul?

In the New York Times Magazine this last weekend, there was an essay about split brain patients: those who has undergone surgical cutting of the corpus callosum.  Naturally, I had to blog about it.  The author, Jim Holt, starts by describing brain scanning techniques that can reveal various things about how a human brain is working.  He laments the loss of "the comforting notion that each of us has privileged access to his own mind."  He describes other findings, such as neuroplasticity; specifically, findings that indicate that the brain can rewire itself in response to external and internal environmental changes, then adds:
But there could be revelations in store that will force us to revise our self-understanding in far more radical ways. We have already had a hint of this in the so-called split-brain phenomenon. The human brain has two hemispheres, right and left. Each hemisphere has its own perceptual, memory and control systems. For the most part, the left hemisphere is associated with the right side of the body, and vice versa. The left hemisphere usually controls speech. Connecting the hemispheres is a cable of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. [...]
Mr. Holt develops the idea that discoveries in neuroscience threaten to alter our understanding of ourselves in discomforting ways. 
The more that breakthroughs like the recent one in brain-scanning open up the mind to scientific scrutiny, the more we may be pressed to give up comforting metaphysical ideas like interiority, subjectivity and the soul. Let's enjoy them while we can.
I had to look up the word, interiority.  Apparently it refers to either: for the purely inequality system with g convex, it means there exists x for which g(x) < 0. More generally, for a mathematical program in standard form, it means there exists x in X for which g(x) < 0 and h(x) = 0; or, it refers to focusing and concentrating on the importance of self and, above all, on the God within, rather than on things "outside" (ie, material possessions.)

The implication is that, perhaps, it may become more difficult for humans to experience a spiritual dimension to their lives, as we come to understand more about the physics and chemistry of brain function.

That notion is something that I used to worry about, but no more.  It seems to me that it is similar to the notion that human dignity is diminished through the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or that the institution of marriage is diminished if other people run their marriages in a way that is different than what you think is proper.  Personally, I don't agree with any of those notions. 

Analyzing the optical properties of a rose petal does not make the rose any less beautiful.  Likewise, understanding the anatomical and chemical basis of perception does not alter the value of the thing perceived.  Human dignity is not a property within the human being observed; it is a property ascribed by the observer.  Marriage is what you and your spouse make of it; what others do in their marriages is irrelevant. 

I would say that, if one finds that scientific advances diminish one's spiritual experience, it is because it distracts from the spiritual experience, much as material possessions do.  The only difference is that when one possesses scientific knowledge, is not a material possession.  Neuroscientists need not worry about the effect that their research has on the spirituality of others.  What other people do inside their heads is their business, and it is up to them to create the experiences that they want to have.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Really Surprising News Headlines #351456

Study: Traffic gridlock getting worse in U.S.
By Leslie Miller
The Associated Press

Originally published May 9, 2005, 2:45 PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- If getting stuck in traffic makes you want to roll down your car window and scream, look no further than another of those studies to find the bad news: Gridlock is getting worse.
I'm sure there is a point to this study, but I don't know what it is. 

Sunday, May 08, 2005

McNamara and Bolton: a story of Fission, not Fusion

I subscribed to Foreign Policy  (FP) a few months ago.  Not because I have any pretensions of being a policy wonk, but because I am fascinated by what happens when you get enough molecules together in the same place.  Individual molecules are fairly easy to understand, as are small collections.  Most of what happens with small collections is predicable with a few simple rules.

When the number of molecules involved becomes very large -- as is the case with international politics -- the predictability vanishes.  Of course, people still try to apply simple rules, then fail to notice the many exceptions.  Personally, I think this is one of the most interesting aspect of human psychology.  Once we establish a pet theory, we notice confirmatory evidence selectively, and take it as proof of the theory.  Somehow, evidence that contradicts the theory is ignored, discounted, or otherwise invalidated.  In this post, I discuss two recent FP articles, one by Robert McNamara, which argues for accelerated arms control efforts, and one about John Bolton, arguing for and against his nomination for Ambassador to the UN.  I remind readers that the stakes are high, because of the crucial role the UN has in control of nuclear proliferation.  Continue reading here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

New Flavors

They're coming out pretty quickly, now.  Knoppix 3.8.1 was released on April 23, and already there are numerous clones developed specifically for various languages.  All these distros have come out in the last week.  Not all use Knoppix as the base; one uses Mandrake, another Gentoo, and another uses Debian.  All of these run straight from the CD.  Since the hardest part of using any new operating system is the process of installing it on the hard drive, using live CD's is perfect for those who are not technically inclined.  Also, if you do decide to install it, there is no problem if you later trash your OS.  Just boot from the CD and you're in business in minutes.  Finish your work, meet your deadline, then go back and re-install when you have the time.  Eventually all mission-critical work will be done on such systems.  I mean, if you are running a business, and can't afford down time, why not?

I still use Windows at work, but I keep a Knoppix disk ready.  I do all my word processing using OpenOffice.  The next time Widows crashes, I'll do what I did last time: boot up Knoppix, and get back to work. 

The LliureX distribution is a Knoppix-based live and installation CD with support for Valencian  and Spanish.

Pardus is a Turkish project with the goal of creating a Gentoo-based live CD for Turkish speakers.

Tilix is a Bulgarian live and installation CD based on Knoppix.

Parsix GNU/Linux is an Iranian live CD based on Knoppix with support for the Persian language.

Kaella Knoppix Linux Azur is an adaptation of the Knoppix live CD for French speakers

Kurumin Linux is a Brazilian run-from-CD Linux distribution based on Knoppix.

LIIS Linux is a Latvian Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux.

MCNLive is a Mandrakelinux-based live CD developed by MandrakeClub.nl in the Netherlands.

Speaking of Flavors

Today, I noticed Krazy Jim's Blimpyburger place on Division St. in Ann Arbor.  I was going to pick up my son to have dinner at Shalimar.  Anyway, I remembered that, when I was a kid, we used to drive past it all the time.  I always wanted my parents to take me there, but they never did.  They wouldn't take us to McDonald's either.  They always wanted us to go to nice  places.

When I went to college, one day I remembered all those times I had wanted to go to Blimpyburger.  Nothing was stopping me, so I went.  I never went back.  My parents had been right, after all.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Champie Redux

Back by popular demand, this is yet another picture of our colt, a few hours after birth.  (Here at The Corpus Callosum, one request is enough to qualify as popular demand.)  His APHA name, pending their approval, is Champ's Vivid Image.  The sire is Image of Champions, and the mare is Vivid April Maiden.  The eye looks a little unnatural, because in the original picture, it comes out as a blue-greenish-white orb.  I used GIMP to make it look a little better, but I'm not very good at that kind of thing, being more of a reality-based kind of guy.

This is Champie grazing with April.  I think this was taken about four days after the birth.  His half-brother, Vivid October, is in the background.  There is a fence between them, since a new mother likes to be left alone.  And when that new mother weighs 1,200 or so pounds, you tend to give her what she wants.

This is the sire, photographed a couple of days before the breeding.   He's out on the show circuit now. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

CNS Pipeline Update

We usually keep some carrots around, in case someone wants a quick low-fat snack.  This evening, I found out that my wife has eaten all the carrots.  Thus, with my foraging instinct activated but unfulfilled, I searched the web frantically, looking for information about new psychotropic drugs that might be available in the next few years.  Not as good as a carrot, but no calories, either.

Today I will mention two potential new antidepressants: desvenlafaxine, and agomelatine.  One is a me-too drug that probably will have some clinical use.  The other has a novel mechanism of action, which always is interesting.  Continue reading here.

How Big Religion Sold Out to Big Business, Without Even Trying

Please consider the following items, and see if there is a common theme among them:
  1. Salon publishes an article about the new president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, asking if his "fealty to the oil industry could derail the World Bank's mission to reduce poverty."
  2. The Union of Concerned Scientists publishes many articles, accusing the US Government of suppressing, distorting, and misusing the results of scientific research, all for political purposes.  Most of the time, the politicians are accused of being so pro-business that the interests of the general public are swept aside. 
  3. PBS runs a documentary about how people are influenced to vote against their own economic interests, to the benefit of big businesses. 
  4. The FDA and NIH are embroiled in controversies about conflicts of interest, again with the concern that large corporations may be influencing their inner workings.
  5. Bloggers point out the link between the anti-filibuster campaign and the religious right.  Others point out the hate speech that occurs in subset of religious fundamentalists.  Others express fear at the prospect of a one-party state.

Now, an anonymous blogger () writes a post alleging that these things are all connected.  Major religious institutions, thinking that they are promoting moral values, are subverted into promoting the agenda of big business.  Continue reading here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cream Sounded Like a Band Out of Time

The band Cream has reunited after 37 years for concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall.

"Inevitably, at moments Cream sounded like a band out of time. But they proved there is no substitute for great musicianship. The chemistry, remarkably, was still there."
Adrian Thrills, Daily Mail

Grand Rounds XXXII

The latest Grand Rounds has been compiled at Tales of a MD/PhD student.  Mudphud obviously spent a lot of precious time doing it, and did so in a wonderfully expressive manner.  Reading through it just convinces me that I do not want to host such an event, at least not while I work for a living.  Check back in thirty years or so.  Seriously, she did a nice job, and deserves credit for taking the time to help showcase everyone's work.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

WiFi Adventures

In case you were wondering if you could get a WiFi connection while sitting in Ruby Tuesday's on US-12, using Expresso Royale Cafe's access point, now you know. You can. It's at least 100 meters away, but I still get a 22 Mbps connection, with 70-75% signal strength and 80-90% link quality.

Moral Relativism In Action

Link skipping this morning, I happened across of tangle of posts about the topic of moral relativism.  TO give credit where it is due, I first encountered a link on Majikthise, then Left2Right, then Yglesias.  All very erudite, but with something missing.  What is missing from those posts is a good, concrete example, to help people know moral relativism when they see it.

Naturally, comedians had a field day with this, but most people recognize that Mr. Bush was being culturally sensitive when he kissed and held hands with the Crown Prince.  Nothing wrong with that: it would be considered proper in the Prince's own culture.  If Bush had done it with Dick Cheney, that would have been indecent.  That's moral relativism.

Continue reading here.


If you considered the allegations made by the swift boat veterans to be credible, then you ought to give credence to this:
Broken Chain Of Command
Perry Jefferies
April 28, 2005

Perry Jefferies, now retired, served as a First Sergeant in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He now volunteers as a veteran outreach coordinator for Operation Truth , the nation’s first and largest Iraq War veterans organization.

It has been a year now since the first photos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib were published. For some, this might be seen as a low point in the war in Iraq, but to me, it was an arbitrary point in a travesty that predated the publication of the photos and seems to have continued since. In the passing year, we’ve found the abuse was systematic, widespread and—if not authorized—then at least encouraged by official policies and statements from high-level military and civilian officials. We also find that the leaders who helped set up and continue the torture were rewarded, promoted or absolved, while some of the troops involved are headed for long jail sentences. [...]

What leads to the greatest frustration for me is the total abdication of responsibility and lack of accountability from the senior leaders and chain of command. I am accustomed to the public misunderstanding the circumstances and actions of soldiers, and their tendency to turn away when faced with difficult situations. Not so with the leaders of the military. This leaves a dirty smear on the honorable service of so many thousands of soldiers, Marines and others. It puts our men and women of the armed forces squarely in the sights of those who plan to exact revenge or exercise similar care, should they become the captors. The photos from Abu Ghraib insure that the depredations there will not be forgotten, but our government's actions since since seem designed to insure it will be neither prevented nor avoided in the future.