Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Abortion Debate

In response to something my friend, Jeromy, wrote on his blog, I promised some thoughts on abortion, so here we go.

I'll start by saying that I am firmly against abortion excepting in very rare circumstances (the health of the mother for example). I think that no matter why it is done, it is an incredibly weighty decision that should not be taken lightly. The cavalier attitude taken by many toward abortion is disturbing to me. I would like to see abortions go away completely except for the afore mentioned "rare circumstances."

That said, I do not think that the current methods most pro-lifers use is the best way to accomplish this goal. First, having a law outlawing abortion is not going to make abortion go away. Murder is against the law, but it still happens. Now that doesn't mean I think we shouldn't have a law against murder. Rather we need to change our culture so that abortion is considered just as wrong as murder. People still murder each other, but for the vast majority of the population it is considered a vile, reprehensible act. That is what we need for abortion - a majority consensus that it is wrong.

Second, the tone of the debate needs to change. By letting the supporters of abortion become "pro-choice," opponents of abortion have put themselves at a great disadvantage. This is Ameria; we take pride in our freedom (except when a certain Republican President is doing everything in his power to curtail them, but I digress). If someone is against "pro-choice," then obviously they are evil fascists who want to control you and it is imperative you stand up to them. Language is important and the current phrasing of the debate only serves to inflame the opposition into irrational tirades that do nothing to further the cause.

I think that those who oppose abortion need to take a bottom-up approach. Talk to family members, friends, fellow church goers about abortion. Make sure the people around you know that they can talk to you about it if they need to. Make sure you don't come across as holier-than-thou or accuse people who get an abortion of being hell-bound baby-murderers. You may feel like that, but it doesn't help your cause if you voice your opinion this way. This method is much more likely to achieve productive results. Maybe I'm crazy, though, and bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors who perform them will be more productive in the long run.

Things Aren't Looking Up In Iraq

Joe Klein writes about the current situation in Iraq and has harsh words for the current administration's plan or lack thereof.

The Surge has helped a great many Iraqis in the neighborhoods of Baghdad return to normal, relatively secure lives--despite the occasional Down Syndrome bomber--but it is a tactic, not a strategy. We have no coherent strategy going forward, at least none that I've heard.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cowardly Democrats

The only Republican to vote against the Iraq War has some harsh words for the Democrats who privately voiced concern, but publically went along with the plan and voted for it.

Chafee was the only Republican senator to vote against prosecuting the war. "The top Democrats were at their weakest when trying to show how tough they were," writes Chafee. "They were afraid that Republicans would label them soft in the post-September 11 world, and when they acted in political self-interest, they helped the president send thousands of Americans and uncounted innocent Iraqis to their doom. [...]

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. The Bush administration may own the bungling of the actual operation of the war, but both Bush and Congress are responsible for our presence there. I also think Clinton's vote for the war is going to be one of the issues that sinks her campaign.

Home Theater Room Themes

I'm jealous. These are freakin' cool.

Reconciliation in Iraq

It's not happening.

It looks as if, as was widely expected in dovish quarters, Iraq's new de-Baathification law is proving unacceptable to Sunni Arabs, and Iraq's Sunni Vice President is saying he'll veto it.

Why isn't Congress hammering the President on this a lot more than they are? The stated purpose of the surge was to "create space" for political reconciliation. It's not happening, but we're plowing forward regardless. Have you noticed that when things were looking very grim that was a sign we needed to stay and help the Iraqis. Then when things are looking slightly better, that's a sign our plan is working so we need to stay. Heads I win; tails you lose.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Healthcare Debate

Megan McArdle writes about why universal healthcare is not a good idea.

But clinical trials for a single successful drug cost $500 million, and not because the labs have outrageous administrative overhead. Even if the government were in charge of running them, they would still be on the hook for that $500 million, which would have to come out of taxes. We can get existing drugs on the cheap by essentially stealing the property of shareholders in drug firms, who risked a lot of money on drugs that they reasonably expected to be profitable under existing laws. But that's a one-trick pony. We cannot get new drugs at bargain basement prices.

This is one of the main arguments against universal healthcare and perhaps the most persuasive. How many new drugs come out of Europe? Very few.

Obama and Israel

Some neocons are concerned about a President Obama's policies toward Israel.

The folks over at Commentary magazine (intellectual base of neo-con thinker Norman Podhoretz, who is a Giuliani advisor) have been scrutinizing Barack Obama's Middle East advisors and policies. Noah Pollak has zeroed in on Samantha Power, a human rights advocate, Harvard University professor and TIME columnist. Pollack goes so far as to suggest that if Obama was elected, Power would be advising him to repudiate Israel and appease Iran--"America's greatest ally in the Middle East," and its "greatest enemy," respectively, in Pollak's view.

Of course, Obama has not really mentioned anything specific about Israel and the Middle East. This is all being based on some of his advisors and as the article notes, one of his advisors is staunchly pro-Israel. That said, I think America would be a much more credible third-party in Middle East negotiations if we weren't seen as tied to Israel at the hip. Yes, Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, and so on have done some despicable things, but Israel is no saint. We need to call out Israel just as strongly when they do not live up to their end of a bargain as we do everyone else in the region.

Edwards is Done

I find it amusing when a politician says something like, "I'm still in it and I'm going all the way to the National Convention," and then drops out a few days later.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out seeing as how Edwards was for the most part pulling support from Clinton and not Obama. I hope Edwards endorses Obama, but there is some scuttlebut that says he is angling for the AG post under a Clinton Presidency. We'll see.


M. Willard Thornton has some insight for us all.

Brain Scans and Blood Draws

I had my yearly checkup for the MS study last week. My neurologist said the MRI looked great. He did say that my white cell count is still low normal which is expected for people on interferon medications. However, looking back at my first blood draw before I was on drugs, he noted that my white count was low then, too, so it is probably my normal range.

Other than some fatigue and occassional depression, I have felt great. I should be with all the shooting up I have to do. What's the point of doing drugs if they aren't going to make you feel good?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thermodynamics of Hell

I'm not one to get excited by FW: emails. They are typically not insightful, funny, or intelligent. However, I got one the other day that made me laugh. I had to edit it for grammar, of course (what the heck is up with chain emails and bad grammar?). It really makes the baby Jesus cry. Anyway, without further ado.

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term. The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'

This student received an A+.

This guy sounds like a smartass. I like him already.

Angry Women

The New York branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is a bit miffed (okay, they're freakin' pissed!) that Ted Kennedy has endorsed Barack Obama.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment!" the statement continues. "He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton.
This latest move by Kennedy is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation — to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a president that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’

This is exactly why radicals for any position tend to come off as whack. 'Cause you know Kennedy just can't be supporting Obama because he finds him a better candidate. Nope. He's a closet misogynist! I bet he's a Nazi and baby-raper, too! Come on, ladies, let's lynch the prick!

*ahem* Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh at the absurdity of something or cry at the stupidity, weeping for the future of our race.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Author Benjamin Barber has a post on his blog about the economy and why giving people more money to spend is not going to help in the long run.

Too often capitalism has tied itself to American vices: an arms race, shopoholism, dependency on imported oil, and then cried foul when reformers try to treat the dependency. “See what you’ve done? You’ve stopped people from taking out mortgages they can’t afford and now the housing market has collapsed! Shoppers are staying away from the mall and refusing to buy all those goods they don’t need, and the economy’s going down the tubes! Next thing you know, Americans will start taking public transportation instead of driving gas-guzzling cars, will start saving instead of spending – acting thrifty! – and then we real really be in a mess!”

Almost all of the proposals for dealing with the looming recession are about getting bucks back in the hands of consumers so they will start spending again! But exhuberent spending is what is inflating the trade deficit, wrecking the dollar, draining savings, and allowing foreign investors to buy up America — not to speak of corrupting American morals.

Crazy Hippies

My good friend, Jeromy, has built a community with other like-minded individuals living under one roof, the goal of which is putting into practice their vision of Christianity (humble life, service, smoking pot). He explains it much better, so I'll let him do it.

A reporter from the LA Times heard about their little venture and decided to do a story on it which just came out. She visited a few times over the course of a year to get a good feel for just what the community was about. Jeromy responded to the article as he felt that the story places too much emphasis on the conflict that is going to inevitably ensue when people live together.

I feel like he is being too critical of the article, though. Perhaps it is because I know him so well, but I did not get that vibe. To me, it seemed a story of genuine human beings attempting to carve a new path in their lives that would lead to something greater than themselves. Of course there are going to be bumps in the road, but reading about the community helping a homeless guy, or giving two battered women with kids a place to stay one night, or giving a recovering meth addict a home gives me hope that there are good people in the world and that if people come together they can make a difference. There are so many of our fellow human beings who need a hand and it is heartwarming to see people attempting to step up and fill that void.

I applaud Jeromy and everyone else in his community for taking a stab at this. As the article makes clear, it has not been easy. But, then, how many good things are?

And, I can't mention the story without noting that if you look through the photo gallery accompanying it, specifically the second pic, you will see a dorky cool looking guy on the right that may or may not bear a striking resemblance to yours truly. Step one on my road to fortune and glory.

Oh, and no, Jeromy and company are not crazy hippies. If that wasn't clear to anyone who read anything from the links above. Although, I suppose if that wasn't clear to you, I'm probably not going to be able to convince you otherwise.

Some People Just Don't Like to Really Think

Andrew Sullivan posts a cartoon about how man made dinosaurs evil and an excerpt explaining why evolution is a religion, both from a website called Answering Genesis. These extreme positions against reason really blow me away.

Weekly Music Video

Witness the awesomeness that is Metallica and their best song, "One." Anyone who claims heavy metal is puerile or just "noise" needs to check this powerful statement about the destructiveness of war.

Weekly Secret