Posters rather than posts
Not many posts today as I've been rather busy, but if you'd like some great posters, please, please check out Cold Fury: Okay, So I Was Bored Tonight.
new science shows that conception usually does not produce a baby. "The majority of cases in which there is a fertilized egg result in the non-realization of a person," says Dr. Machelle Seibel, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Boston University School of Medicine. What exists just after conception is called a zygote. Research now suggests that only about half of all zygotes implant in the uterine wall and become embryos; the others fail to continue dividing and expire. Of those embryos that do trigger pregnancy, only around 65 percent lead to live births, even with the best prenatal care. The rest are lost to natural miscarriage. All told, only about one-third of sperm-egg unions result in babies, even when abortion is not a factor.
... each year since 1995, Congress has enacted legislation to restrict late-term abortion, and each year President Clinton has either vetoed or threatened to veto it. During the sequence of votes and vetoes, each side has gone out of its way to make itself look bad. Pro-life members of Congress have proposed absolute bans that make no provision for protecting the life of the mother, which undermines their claim to revere life. Senator Diane Feinstein of California, in what was surely one of the all-time lows for American liberalism, brought to the Senate floor a bill intended to affirm a woman's right to terminate a healthy, viable late-term fetus. Both sides have opposed a reasonable middle ground. In 1996, for example, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, a liberal Democrat, offered a bill to ban late-term abortions except when necessary to avert "serious adverse health consequences" to the woman. Rather than rally around this compromise, pro-lifers and pro-choicers mutually assailed it.
... while Britain has been saved from the euro, at least for the time being, by the operation of democracy and the good sense of voters, the rest of Europe is looking less and less fortunate on both counts. Europe is bouncing along the bottom of a deep economic slump and can no longer hope to export its way out of trouble by selling luxury goods to a super-charged American economy. Meanwhile, Germany, which is now perennially Europe’s weakest, as well as its largest, economy, is being sucked into a deflationary whirlpool similar to the one that drowned the postwar economic miracle in Japan.
Note that it doesn't say that marijuana caused the emergency-room visit--just that it was "mentioned as a drug patients used." Had they been asked, even greater numbers might have offered up milk as a "food patients used." Since there's zero reason to equate correlation with causation, Fearless Leader is either being idiotic, or disingenuous when he says:
"Marijuana-related medical emergencies are increasing at an alarming rate, exceeding even those for heroin," White House Drug Czar John Walters said in a prepared statement. "This report helps dispel the pervasive myth that marijuana is harmless.
The patient's presenting problem(s) (i.e., the reason for the Emergency Department visit) was induced by or related to drug use, regardless of when the drug use occurred; (and) ...
The patient's reason for using the substances(s) was dependence, suicide attempt or gesture, and/or psychic effects.
In addition to drug overdoses, reportable ED episodes may result from chronic effects of habitual drug use or from unexpected reactions. Unexpected reactions reflect cases where the drug's effect was different than anticipated (e.g., caused hallucinations). DAWN cases do not include accidental ingestion or inhalation of a substance with not intent of abuse, or adverse reactions to prescription or over-the-counter medications taken as prescribed.
A single drug abuse episode may have multiple drug mentions. Up to 4 different substances can be recorded for each ED episode. Therefore, not every reported substance is, by itself, necessarily a cause of the medical emergency. On the other hand, substances that contributed to a drug abuse episode may occasionally go unreported or undetected. Even when only one substance is reported for an episode, an allowance should be made for reportable drugs not mentioned or for other contributory factors.
DAWN does not measure the frequency or prevalence of drug use in the population, but rather the health consequences of drug use that are reflected in visits to hospital EDs.
"People move through dependency, and most poverty is temporary. Poverty is generally an experience for part of people's lives, not for all of it.
"Few people under retirement age who have low incomes now have been poor throughout the last five years.
"Relatively few people who are unemployed stay unemployed continuously. Most young people who are currently poor will either obtain work, or settle down with someone else who is not poor."
Social analysts (again, invariably labelled "Right-wing") have been saying for years that family breakdown is a main cause of modern poverty. It is much more expensive for individuals, and for society, when people try to raise children alone.
So if the Government really wanted to abolish poverty, the most valuable thing that it could do would be to encourage people - by any means in its power - to marry before having children and to stay married once they have had them. Don't hold your breath on this one.
The international order has hitherto depended on the principle that national borders are sacrosanct and, however unattractive a tyrant, military action to remove a regime can be justified only by its breaching another state’s sovereignty. But, as Dr Kissinger has noted, Iraq’s imminent acquisition of weapons of mass destruction challenges that doctrine at root. For not only is Saddam’s programme to acquire such weapons in breach of treaty accords and the international order, it also gives him the potential to threaten global security at will, possessed of the means of inflicting irretrievable damage on other states and peoples. Saddam, and his terrorist allies, would be horrifically empowered. Our capacity to protect our citizens, and interests, would be grotesquely weakened.
The scale, and imminence, of the threat we face requires action of a kind it has become hard to contemplate. We have no alternative but to launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq to prevent Saddam completing his drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Massive military force must be deployed to remove Saddam’s regime. Such an action will inevitably lead to significant casualties, both Western and Iraqi. No reasonable, or moral, human being can regard such a course with equanimity. But reason, and morality, tell us that there is no alternative.
It also requires a recognition that the traditional diplomacy which placed stability above morality only succeeded in compromising both. The realpolitik which led Republicans, and Tories, in the past to acquiesce in the propping up of regimes in Baghdad, and Riyadh, has not bought us security. It has allowed evil to incubate. And we have been forced to pay, in the innocent blood shed on September 11, for that folly.
Now, however, America is determined to ensure that danger is defeated by liberating those whom its past policies have betrayed. It is an irony, and one perhaps not welcome among the old Left or the old Right, that morality has been restored to international affairs by a conservative American President. Just as it was in the 1940s by a Conservative British Prime Minister. While Europe stands irresolute and divided, while America’s old managerialists cavil, while the Left temporises in the face of tyranny, the White House recognises that Western democracy’s future depends on democracy taking root in Iraq.
Cynics might call it cowboy diplomacy, but putting its faith in freedom is how the West has always won.
One thing for sure, we are enmeshed by many more regulations than we had in 1951. There are no acute shortages, so we are spared rationing; but our lives have become far more tightly controlled.
The regulations passed with scant parliamentary attention and spun round business, shops, schools, doctors, hospitals, factories, hotels, every mortal form of activity, are formidable, perhaps crippling, and growing.
There is no longer such a thing as an accident in life. Someone is to blame and, if you set about it in the right way, a lawyer or tribunal will collect for you, probably for free.
Like the rationing and controls kept on long after the Second World War, "It's only fair, innit?" No denying, there are political risks here. So best keep the cushion pressed hard down on the face of the enterprising? There is a fork in the road ahead for the Tories. Turn right - and is it all that far right? - and promise to set the people free.
It is queasily reminiscent of state broadcasting in a totalitarian society when the BBC schedules a day-long programme called Your NHS to coincide with a Labour Budget that promises vast amounts of money to the National Health Service, and the Prime Minister actually appears on that programme to make clear his commitment to quality health care. As Adam Boulton said, why couldn't they have called it "Health Day" rather than "NHS Day" and examined other ways of funding and structuring health care?
Maybe the corporation is actually colluding to keep Labour in power in an explicitly corrupt way. But probably not. It is just that its personnel share Labour's assumptions and language. They do not regard these shared views on, say, the virtue of high tax and high public spending, as merely correct: they see them as the only rational opinions. And they, apparently, are the masters now.
Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
The pragmatic argument against the death penalty is essentially that it fails more badly than imprisonment. The moral argument is that for the state, or for any individual, to kill a person deliberately and in the absence of any overriding necessity to do so is profoundly evil.
Neither the original blog entry nor the comments here adequately address either of these arguments.
But what they gain on the swings (so to speak) they may be more than losing on the roundabouts. The working class identity seems no longer to be binding the loyalties of DEs to the Labour Party, so that those who admit they are working class and proud of it are no more likely to vote Labour than those who do not - instead, they are more likely to say they will not vote or to be undecided. If this pattern persists, it may have as profound an impact on the future class/party structure of politics in this country as the rise of the ABC1s; and it has happened a great deal quicker.
>I don't understand. What's a troll?
Why, are you gay? (That's a troll)
>What's a flame?
F*** off. (That's a flame)
What seems to matter is that a society be sufficiently open to moral debate and economic progress to allow minorities to improve themselves and to impress their neighbors.
Sentimentality - false sentiment - is not only the simulacrum of feeling that tries to fill the vacuum left by indifference; it is also an evasion of moral responsibility. It allows people to imagine that they are virtuous simply by expressing the emotions that are deemed to be correct in the circumstances, but it demands nothing of them, no sacrifice in the name of duty.
Only in a country as scandalously neglectful of its children as England could there have been such a morally redundant outpouring in a case such as that of these two girls. As for the likely official response to the case, it is likely to pander to the shallowest of emotions: to do otherwise, to tackle the real root of child abuse, insofar as such child abuse is preventable by political means, would require moral courage of a type that is conspicuously absent from our entire political class.
The Dianafication of our emotional life, as exemplified by the response to the abduction and murder of these two girls, marks a deep shift (for the worse, of course) in our national character. It wasn't very long ago that expressions of extreme emotion were regarded as anti-social: indeed, my older patients still cleave to this view, which is what gives them such dignity and permits them to overcome so many real tragedies of their own.
We have been taught that, on the contrary, the expression of emotion - any emotion - is better than its repression. Emotion is regarded like pus in an abscess: if it isn't let out, it results in the emotional equivalent of blood poisoning. This is destructive of all finer feeling. It is destructive of nuance and subtlety. It is an invitation to crudity, vulgarity and shallowness. It means that people are regarded as feeling most who speak loudest and longest, which not surprisingly results in a universal shouting match.
As usual, Shakespeare understood perfectly, though we are increasingly unable to learn anything from him. In King Lear, Kent warns Lear against the folly of mistaking high-sounding words for emotional truth. He takes the part of Cordelia, who has refused to exaggerate the depth of her filial affection:
Thy youngest daughter does not love thee least;
Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound
Reverbs no hollowness.
The hollowness of modern Britain could hardly be greater. We are a nation of Lears, minus the tragic grandeur.
I therefore fearlessly challenge the verdict which this House ... is to give ... whether, as the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say Civis Romanus sum; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and strong arm of England shall protect him against injustice and wrong.
-- Lord Palmerston, speech in the Don Pacifico debate, 25 June 1850.
Will there be a Jerzy Tolozcko debate? I doubt it.
Ben Page, from pollsters MORI, said that three quarters of the population consistently say they believe the death penalty "is suitable in some circumstances", although lethal injection is the preferred method.
But the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, said a return to state execution would mean society admitting defeat.
It is hard for me, as a neuroscientist, to accept that a drug that has the biochemical actions that it does, that hangs around in the brain and body, and that has dramatic effects on brain function and dysfunction, could not be leaving its mark, literally, on how our neurons are wired up and work together.
It is argued that we will never stamp out cannabis use, and therefore we should give up trying. But we will not stamp out murder or house break-ins or mugging, yet I've never heard an argument for freeing up police time by liberalising the law on these acts. ...
The condoning of chemical consolation also distracts from other problems. We have failed our young people in providing homes and jobs and, by giving them an easy route into a chilled-out oblivion, have turned our backs on the far more challenging prospect of initiating policies to help them realise their potential and live better and more fulfilling lives. They are paying a high price for cool.
A couple of weeks into sobriety, I began to realise that I'd spent the previous 10 - or was it 15? - years walking round like a sleepwalker. There, but not there; emotionally absent. How did I manage coherent thought, enveloped in those thick dope clouds for half of every day? It still amazes me.
I wouldn't describe the withdrawals as being that mild either. Four months of sweaty, itchy insomnia, uncomfortably vivid dreams, constant cravings and anxiety seemed a pretty extreme price to pay for being good.
Later, when I went back to smoking (as almost everyone apparently does, unless they follow through with a recovery programme) it really hit me just how strong a drug marijuana is. As the dense tendrils of fragrant fog curled through my brain for the first time in several months and my mindset began to alter radically, I almost had a panic attack. Within seconds I was paralysed on my sofa, once again soaring through unreality, back to being a speechless motionless teenager. Only this time I was aware of what I was doing and why. Bummer.
‘Cannabis is rather sneered at in circles which consider themselves modish,’ [Petronella Wyatt] tells us. ‘This is probably the best argument of all for its legalisation.’ The next time I am called out to admit a snivelling, bleeding schizophrenic forcibly to psychiatric hospital, after one joint too many has brought on a full psychosis, I will be sure to ask, as the police bundle him into the van, whether he considers the circles he moves in to be modish.
Pro-animal campaigns in Africa are even worse, where modern-day Rudyard Kiplings (except they tend to be young, trendy and 'radical') take on a new white man's burden of protecting the elephant and the rhino and the gorilla from nasty Africans who would dare to kill them. The fact that such campaigns can devastate people's livelihoods and force them to move from their homes is either overlooked or, even worse, celebrated as a success.
Clearly, if any prejudice existed it would be right to address it. But this was not prejudice. It was rather that boys and girls behaved in different ways. This was never an issue in single sex schools. But once co-educational schools became the norm, the differences became striking – and feminism assumed that to be different meant inferiority and discrimination.
This was not only wrong in itself. It was also disastrous for boys. For rather than men being masters of the universe as feminists contend, their sense of what they are is fragile. Unless their particular male characteristics are acknowledged and supported, they start sliding downhill and some go off the rails altogether.
Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card.... [B]roadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone. (English History: 1914-1945)
The ascribed group over the individual citizen. The key political unit is not the individual citizen, who forms voluntary associations and works with fellow citizens regardless of race, sex, or national origin, but the ascriptive group (racial, ethnic, or gender) into which one is born.
A dichotomy of groups: Oppressor vs. victim groups, with immigrant groups designated as victims. Transnational ideologists have incorporated the essentially Hegelian Marxist "privileged vs. marginalized" dichotomy.
Group proportionalism as the goal of "fairness." Transnational progressivism assumes that "victim" groups should be represented in all professions roughly proportionate to their percentage of the population. If not, there is a problem of "underrepresentation."
The values of all dominant institutions to be changed to reflect the perspectives of the victim groups. Transnational progressives insist that it is not enough to have proportional representation of minorities in major institutions if these institutions continue to reflect the worldview of the "dominant" culture. Instead, the distinct worldviews of ethnic, gender, and linguistic minorities must be represented within these institutions.
The "demographic imperative." The demographic imperative tells us that major demographic changes are occurring in the U. S. as millions of new immigrants from non-Western cultures enter American life. The traditional paradigm based on the assimilation of immigrants into an existing American civic culture is obsolete and must be changed to a framework that promotes "diversity," defined as group proportionalism.
The redefinition of democracy and "democratic ideals." Transnational progressives have been altering the definition of "democracy" from that of a system of majority rule among equal citizens to one of power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens. James Banks, one of American education's leading textbook writers, noted in 1994 that "to create an authentic democratic Unum with moral authority and perceived legitimacy, the pluribus (diverse peoples) must negotiate and share power." Hence, American democracy is not authentic; real democracy will come when the different "peoples" that live within America "share power" as groups.
Deconstruction of national narratives and national symbols of democratic nation-states in the West. In October 2000, a UK government report denounced the concept of "Britishness" and declared that British history needed to be "revised, rethought, or jettisoned." In the U.S., the proposed "National History Standards," recommended altering the traditional historical narrative. Instead of emphasizing the story of European settlers, American civilization would be redefined as a multicultural "convergence" of three civilizations—Amerindian, West African, and European. In Israel, a "post-Zionist" intelligentsia has proposed that Israel consider itself multicultural and deconstruct its identity as a Jewish state. Even Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres sounded the post-Zionist trumpet in his 1993 book , in which he deemphasized "sovereignty" and called for regional "elected central bodies," a type of Middle Eastern EU.
Promotion of the concept of postnational citizenship. In an important academic paper, Rutgers Law Professor Linda Bosniak asks hopefully "Can advocates of postnational citizenship ultimately succeed in decoupling the concept of citizenship from the nation-state in prevailing political thought?"
The idea of transnationalism as a major conceptual tool. Transnationalism is the next stage of multicultural ideology. Like multiculturalism, transnationalism is a concept that provides elites with both an empirical tool (a plausible analysis of what is) and an ideological framework (a vision of what should be). Transnational advocates argue that globalization requires some form of "global governance" because they believe that the nation-state and the idea of national citizenship are ill suited to deal with the global problems of the future.
Today, sustainable development is a ubiquitous, politically compliant phrase, a pleasant-sounding palliative to inexorable and inevitable change. It is dished up as a placebo to eco-chondriacs the world over. Ecological and economic change are the norm, not the exception. Equilibrium solutions are impossible; we inhabit a disturbing, non-equilibrium world, in which volcanoes erupt, earthquakes quake, seas rise and fall, and climate changes, whether under human influence or not.
Sustainable development lurks everywhere - for business, it is a neat PC word: all PR and ethical investment, but signifying little; for scientists, it means: "Give me funds for research"; for politicians: "Give me your nice Green vote".
The biggest problem arises when authoritarian environmentalists hijack the phrase. Then sustainable development becomes either no growth at all or limited growth of a type approved by an elite few - wind farms, yes: nuclear power no; organics, yes: GM no. This is why, so often, environmental organisations try to portray business as the arch-enemy of sustainable development. Like biodiversity, another key word from Rio, sustainability is thrown into the argument to block development and growth, to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia.
The Kyoto protocol on climate change also arose from Rio. Climate is the most complex, chaotic, non-linear system. The idea that climate can be managed "in a predictable way" by manipulating one factor, carbon dioxide, out of the millions of factors involved is Alice-in-Wonderland science, with the verdict before the trial. This is the ultimate flaw: the sheer hubris of humans maintaining a "sustainable climate" vividly demonstrates the delusions of the sustainability myth.
Kyoto will do absolutely nothing to halt climate change in any predictable manner. For all we know, it might even play a tiny part in triggering a most unfortunate plunge into another ice age, which on purely statistical grounds is just about due. As we grow economically, the "command-and-control" targets of the type set under Kyoto are utterly impractical.
My art collective - myself, Rod Dickinson and Will Russell - get thousands of abusive e-mails and phone calls. We've had attacks on our property, and one of my team had bricks thrown at him. But at least this is not America - people don't carry guns here.
[The current debate in the UK about Iraq] is, of course, an internal British debate — but it is one that the Bush administration can influence vitally. Underlying the current halfhearted mood in Britain is the feeling that the war on terrorism is an entirely American show. In fact this is false; Britain, Canada, Australia, France and other U.S. allies played an important part in the Afghan campaign — and continue to play an important part in the wider war on terrorism.
But the Bush administration has underplayed their role and seemed to suggest at times that the contributions of allies were not valued. That indifference — an indifference sometimes bordering on contempt — has been amplified and exaggerated by the punditocracy, including several pundits on the Right. And the knock-on effect of that has been to breed a mildly anti-American mood of reluctance to get involved in the next round of hostilities. An English friend, lunching at one of London's celebrated gentlemen's club a day or so after September 11, had found himself then the leading dove because he favored the U.S. liberating Afghanistan before Iraq when the mood around the table was to cut off the serpent's head right away; just recently he was the leading hawk at the same table because his fellow members felt that the U.S. had made clear a lack of interest in the help and opinion of its allies.