Wednesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. A famous trial and a film.
  2. A walk in the moldy green listening to the screaming of the trees. Err, well, not quite.
  3. Improper Soviets? I thought the term soviet basically meant something akin to “town meeting”, which would make New Hampshire a more proper soviet, eh?
  4. Sherlock Holmes, a museum, and med students.
  5. A recipe.
  6. More on the Zimmerman kerfuffle. One might see the wisdom of trying to hide the family wealth from the grasping arm of the law, but your cunning plan needs to be cunning.
  7. Getting the hind end foremost.
  8. Legal advice from the ethically challenged, i.e., you can have religious freedom (defined narrowly here as a tax exemption) if your religion agrees with mine on social issues. Gotcha. Actual freedom of religion treats all religions equally, even those which disagree with me.
  9. Apparently “being a female” is a disease.
  10. So, what are friends for?
  11. “Lying to Congress” a crime. This is one of the more striking ironies in our time, that lying “to” Congress is a crime while lying while “in” Congress is done every day.
  12. Autobiography as fiction. What then is the point?

‘Nuff said fer now.

16 Responses to Wednesday Highlights

  1. 11.“Lying to Congress” a crime….

    Actually I think perjury is a crime.

    6.More on the Zimmerman kerfuffle. One might see the wisdom of trying to hide the family wealth from the grasping arm of the law, but your cunning plan needs to be cunning.

    Family wealth? You mean the thousands of dollars that gullible right wingers donated to help him with ihs legal troubles? Wouldn’t not using this money either for his bail or paying his lawyer a retainer essentially be theft by deception?

  2. 9.Apparently ”being a female” is a disease.

    Didn’t get that part, perhaps I needed to watch the video. Anyway, this does not seem like an issue about abortion to me but rather genetic engineering. Today you can do sex-selective abortion or you can abort if the child is carrying some genetic disease. But there’s nothing that would prevent filtering sperm and eggs based on the same criteria.

    A male dominated culture could, for example, develop a spermicidal gel that targets only X-chromosome carrying cells thereby greatly increasing the chances of a male child. All the demographic concerns one would have would still exist even though the pro-life concern about aborting a fertilized egg would be eliminated.

  3. Boonton,
    I didn’t watch the clip. And yes, it’s about genetic engineering … picking your preferred attribute. In much of Asia girls are preferentially aborted. Her argument for why Downs kids should be prevented works without change for why girls should be (or gays if they figure out a marker for that).

    You offer that “defining terms” is a problem with discussions of free will. Defining what is healthy and what is diseased has similar problems at its core.

  4. Boonton,
    Perjury is a crime. So do judges only accidentally tell the truth? Or would that be a problem? And … Congress isn’t a court.

  5. Boonton,
    It’s unclear to me how the source of money is relevant.

  6. Mark

    You offer that “defining terms” is a problem with discussions of free will. Defining what is healthy and what is diseased has similar problems at its core.

    Nothing against Down’s kids but is there really any debate about it being ‘unhealthy’? It is a disorder and if tomorrow they invented a pill that would magically alter the gene that causes Down so that it would never effect another child again people would be happy to make it part of the standard pre-natal medications used. Likewise if when your first child was born I told you here was a pill that would induce Downs in her, you’d have no great ethical quandry in saying keep that pill away from my kid. None of this is in conflict with respecting those with Down’s and seeing them as valuable members of society.

    Perjury is a crime. So do judges only accidentally tell the truth? Or would that be a problem? And … Congress isn’t a court.

    Perjury can be committed in more places than a courtroom and when judges or congressmen testify under oath they are no less subject to perjury laws.

    It’s unclear to me how the source of money is relevant.

    Well you said it was ‘family wealth’. For one thing this brings to mind images of wealth built up over generations of hard work and savings, say from some great family enterprise like a business or something. Not a boatload of money you suddenly got a week ago off the paypall link on your website. For another thing if the money was donated for the purpose of helping your legal fight, then it’s not ‘your wealth’ for you to do whatever you want with. It’s money for a donated for a dedicated purpose and that’s what it should be used for.

  7. Boonton,
    Actually the notion that any mechanism might exist to “screen” the genetics of spermatozoa is, well, quite ludicrous.

    Likewise if when your first child was born I told you here was a pill that would induce Downs in her, you’d have no great ethical quandry in saying keep that pill away from my kid. None of this is in conflict with respecting those with Down’s and seeing them as valuable members of society.

    I see you haven’t read Brave New World in which exactly that is proposed.

    For another thing if the money was donated for the purpose of helping your legal fight, then it’s not ‘your wealth’ for you to do whatever you want with. It’s money for a donated for a dedicated purpose and that’s what it should be used for.

    That’s the funny thing about gifts. I give you a gift and then its yours … to do with what you wish. My kids have difficulty with that too. But they are kids. Seems adults should know better.

  8. That’s the funny thing about gifts. I give you a gift and then its yours … to do with what you wish. My kids have difficulty with that too. But they are kids. Seems adults should know better.

    This might come down then to the context of how the ‘gift’ was solicitated. To the degree it was in the form of giving to a ‘legal defense fund’ then no it’s not a free gift for whom to do whatever he wants with.

    Your kids don’t understand that they can do what they want with gifts you give them?

    Actually the notion that any mechanism might exist to “screen” the genetics of spermatozoa is, well, quite ludicrous.

    Possibly, but the hypothetical demonstrates the point. The problem isn’t with abortion per sea but the demographic consquences of selectivity.

    I see you haven’t read Brave New World in which exactly that is proposed.

    If I recall Brave New world was a society in which pleasure was front and center and what would today be described as genetic engineering was used to make classes of people whose pleasure derived from making society work (i.e. laborers were designed not to get bored with routine jobs etc.).

    Saying defining healthy as meaning something along those lines is clearly problematic because saying Down’s is unhealthy is clear. If we discovered some drug induced Down’s, we’d seek to avoid its use in pregnant women. If we discovered Down’s could be avoided or cured by some simple procedure like taking vit C supplements we’d do it. It is simply incoherent to argue that Down’s is not a disorder. Saying Down’s kids are morally valuable and entitled to respect is still not in conflict with that fact.

  9. Boonton,

    Your kids don’t understand that they can do what they want with gifts you give them?

    Other way around usually. If they give a gift … they are upset if it is used in a way they don’t expect, i.e., giving to someone else like her sister.

    To the degree it was in the form of giving to a ‘legal defense fund’ then no it’s not a free gift for whom to do whatever he wants with.

    You’re one of those people who think “lottery profits are for education” is a meaningful statement.

  10. Boonton,

    If I recall Brave New world was a society in which pleasure was front and center and what would today be described as genetic engineering was used to make classes of people whose pleasure derived from making society work (i.e. laborers were designed not to get bored with routine jobs etc.).

    Mr Huxley imagined a society in which happiness was equated with pleasure, which meant as a corollary that there was no harm in creating Betas and Gammas, i.e., intentionally reducing intelligence and other attributes.

    Disease, even setting aside mental illness, is a tricky thing when you try to nail it down.

    Downs is an example of this, even if you decide to ignore it. Downs is a genetic “disorder” (trisonomy 21 (and extra copy of chromosome 21). Is a genetic disorder a disorder? How does that work in a worldview in which you define genetics as defining the individual?

  11. Mr Huxley imagined a society in which happiness was equated with pleasure, which meant as a corollary that there was no harm in creating Betas and Gammas, i.e., intentionally reducing intelligence and other attributes.

    wouldn’t seeking to prevent or cure Downs, then, be the exact opposite?

  12. Boonton,
    Cure by killing or preventing from ever being born?

  13. Boonton,
    Take a guy with Downs, Mr D … his genetics is part of his person, it is a large part of who he is. What are you doing if you “cure” him?

  14. Cure by killing or preventing from ever being born?

    well take the genetic element. Suppose it becomes possible to either ‘screen’ sperm for Downs genes or to correct Downs before birth. The result will be there will never be another Downs baby, child, or eventually adult. Are you saying that would be a bad thing? How about if instead of Downs we were talking about childhood leukemia? Are you objecting to that or are you simply to objecting to aborting children on the basis that they have Downs (or higher risk of Downs)?

    I agree with you the definition of a disorder can get fuzzy. Suppose we discover there is a genetic element to simply not being able to appreciate Mozart. Or perhaps an example closer to your heart mathematics. I agree that it would be pretty questionable to call this a disorder and seek to ‘correct’ it. That would veer less towards correction and more towards design which opens up another can of worms.

    Take a guy with Downs, Mr D … his genetics is part of his person, it is a large part of who he is. What are you doing if you “cure” him?

    Well we know today that genetics is not a one way street. You are not a person laid out by the ‘blueprint’ of your genetics. Instead your genetics combines witn your environment to make you the person you are. Trillions of different influences combine with your genes to make some genes switch on while others switch off which means even identical twins are not really identical and become even less so as they age. So I don’t think it would be meaningful to talk about ‘curing’ Mr D as full blown adult. That’s kind of like saying I’ll ‘cure’ you of not being a native born French speaker. But if you had some speech dysfunction that prevented you from being able to learn to speak French, you could be ‘cured’ of that.

  15. Boonton,

    well take the genetic element. Suppose it becomes possible to either ‘screen’ sperm for Downs genes or to correct Downs before birth. The result will be there will never be another Downs baby, child, or eventually adult. Are you saying that would be a bad thing? How about if instead of Downs we were talking about childhood leukemia? Are you objecting to that or are you simply to objecting to aborting children on the basis that they have Downs (or higher risk of Downs)?

    How about a “gay” gene? How about “likes classical music” gene? How about “thoughtful enough to object to government actions”? See “disorder” is a fuzzy thing.

    Well we know today that genetics is not a one way street.

    Let’s see. You’re the guy (I’m thinking) who’d define person by your attributes. Let’s see, Downs children are challenged intellectually, have some mild physical disabilities, have a quite developed empathy, and are in the main cheerful and happy. Which part are you going to “cure” with your magic wand? When you cure it, … have you retained the individual or destroyed it? What besides his/her relationships remain (i.e., the other definition of person) … ’cause by the “attributes” definition this isn’t the same person any more.

  16. How about a “gay” gene? How about “likes classical music” gene? How about “thoughtful enough to object to government actions”? See “disorder” is a fuzzy thing.

    Is it really? To this point, for example, ‘inability to like classical music’ has never been labeled a disorder. Maybe parents wanted their kids to get a taste for classical music and did all sorts of things like shooting music into the womb, making their kids take piano lessons and so on, but always with the understanding that this is ‘designing’ their kids in some way. If this was done genetically rather than through behaviorial modification then you’re not really blurring any boundary.

    Let’s see. You’re the guy (I’m thinking) who’d define person by your attributes. Let’s see, Downs children are challenged intellectually, have some mild physical disabilities, have a quite developed empathy, and are in the main cheerful and happy. Which part are you going to “cure” with your magic wand?

    Suppose you remove intellectual challenges and mild physical disabilities from such a person. Is it a given that he will become less cheerful, happy and empathetic? How would you feel about me imposing brain damage on your children in order to help them become more ‘empathetic’? I think it is clear ‘curing’ a disability in a person is itself a good thing, but we cannot be sure it will necessarily have good results. But I think here you’re trying to use people as means rather than treating them as ends in themselves. I think, for example, you children should have, to the extent its possible, no physical or mental disabilities and should have the full life of a normal human beign. If this causes them to end up as assholes, well so be it.

    Now I don’t think the line here is as fuzzy as you pretend. Clearly you try to steer your kids away from being assholes as much as you can, but I think you recognize a boundary between that and subverting the dignity of your kids as people. I think you’d be rather put off by a proposal for brain surgery that would enhance their ability and love of mathematics, esp. if they scream at you every day that they don’t want to be the type of person that loves math. Yet you probably wouldn’t feel the same way about, say, a set of toddler toys, that is said to encourage ‘mathematical thinking’.

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