Friday, February 28, 2003

An excellent article conveying the continual progress in the human condition, the value of life, and the security and insurance in undergoing cryogenic suspension... - Mike

19) Many are cold but few are frozen
Laissez Faire Times
by Bill Walker

"Out-of-control government is certainly still a problem, but one
reason government is so annoying is that there are so many more
cool technologies for them to prohibit. In the 20th century, it didn't
really matter if cloning was banned -- now it does. So be realistic:
your life may suck right now, but your ancestors' problems were
more painful than yours. And there is the distinct possibility that
human life may get a lot more interesting, and free, in the near
future." (to be published 01/27/03)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

28) Affirmative action bake sale
by Walter Williams

"In early February, Bruin Republicans organized a campus cookie sale -
- but not your ordinary cookie sale. They offered cookies at
different prices depending on the customer's race and sex. ... Here's
my question for those who condemned the event: Why be offended by a
money version of racial preferences? After all, it's identical in
principle to admission practices sanctioned by university communities
across America." (02/26/03)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Good point to point commentary on Iraq war quesitons.

34) Reality bitten
The New Republic
by Jason Zengerle

"When it comes to assessing the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and
weapons of mass destruction, who are you going to trust? The real
president or the guy who plays the president on Wednesday nights?
Indeed, the best thing the Hollywood left could do for the antiwar
movement would be to give it money and then shut up." (02/24/03)

Excerpt - "In fact, if there's one thing history has taught us, it's that the best thing that can ever happen to a country is to go to war with us and lose. This was so obvious after the Second World War that a wonderful satire was made, "The Mouse That Roared," about a little, impoverished country that decides to declare war on the United States for the express purpose of immediately surrendering and being rebuilt afterwards with foreign aid. "
Excellent article on where our concerns should really focus.

27) No homeland defense against idiocy
Town Hall
by Marvin Olasky

"During 2001, Americans had about a 1 in 100,000 chance of being
killed in a terrorist attack -- that includes those killed on the
ground in New York and Washington and in the four airplanes that
terrorists seized on Sept. 11. ... The odds of being killed while
attending Great White's heavy metal concert in West Warwick, R.I.,
last Thursday night were about one in four." (02/25/03)
Excellent post on democracy and the US by Max

From: "MaxPlumm"
X-Mailer: YaBB

(Let me apologize in advance if this is a double post-Max)

> I originally wrote:
> > I can just as easily say that the US should be blamed more for NOT
> > maintaining the Shah's Peacock Throne in 1979. Especially when one
> > considers that the abdication of the Shah led to the ceasing of Iran
> > "as a base for force projection close to the Soviet border". With no
> > more US presence in Iran, this gave the Soviets a free hand in the
> > region and allowed them to proceed with their invasion of Afghanistan
> > in December 1979. This led to the US and Chinese needing to support
> > the Mujahadeen to expel the Soviets, which in turn led to the rise of
> > Osama Bin Laden and his cronies. So, to use your logic, the rise of
> > the terrorism that now threatens US and international security can be
> > directly traced to our lack of support of a regime that opposed
> > fundamentalist Islamic groups.
> To which Sean Kenny responded:
> "Iran, 1953: When the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh
> nationalized the Anglo-Iranian oil company, the resulting sanctions on
> the country – led by Great Britain and the United States –
> resulted in
> economic hardship and political unrest. Fearing that such instability
> could result in a communist takeover and concerned about the precedent
> of nationalization on American oil companies elsewhere in the Middle
> East, agents of the Central Intelligence Agency organized a military
> coup in 1953, ousting the elected prime minister. The United States
> returned the exiled Shah to Iran, where he ruled with an iron fist for
> more than a quarter century. Tens of thousands of dissidents were
> tortured and murdered by his dreaded SAVAK secret police, organized and
> trained by the United States. The repression was largely successful in
> wiping out the democratic opposition. The SAVAK was less successful in
> infiltrating religious institutions, however, so when the revolution
> finally took place, toppling the Shah in 1979, the formerly secular Iran
> came under the leadership of virulently reactionary and anti-American
> Islamists. The result of the Islamic revolution was not only the end of
> one of America’s strongest economic and strategic relationships in
> the
> Middle East, but also the hostage crisis of 1979-81, Iranian support for
> anti-American terrorist groups, and a series of armed engagements in the
> Persian Gulf during the 1980s. Had the United States not overthrown
> Iran’s constitutional government in 1953 and replaced it with the
> dictatorial Shah, there would not have been the Islamic Revolution and
> its bloody aftermath."
> I am appreciative of your response, Sean, but I disagree completely
> with it.

To which Samantha responded:

"According to people I know who escaped from Iran, it is quite

With all due respect, all of the people I've met from the former South Vietnam
describe the Communist regime as a horrible, nightmarish one and applaud our
efforts in Indochina, something you seem unwilling to accept. Therefore, I
suggest that we refrain from using personal acquaintences from a given country
as experts in the future.

> If we wish to continue the rotating game of
> assigning blame, then I could then say this.

"Do you think that is all or even primarily what this is?"

Yes, in terms of the way the dialogue was progressing, I do. I believe that
Mez, Sean, and I all made points in our posts worth elaborating on, something
I did with Mez. But the discourse as presented in this thread originally
lacked any historical perspective and was more directed toward assigning blame
and criticism.

"To me it looks more like attempting to honestly understand what
happened. It may not be the whole story but it is one important
slice of the story."

As I pointed out in my subsequent reply, and you seem to ignore, I don't
feel that Sean's description as presented helped anyone honestly understand
what happened. In his post, he does not address the Soviet Union's actions
in Iran, the region, or the world once when describing the period of the
Shah's rule. You cannot seriously consider US foreign policy abroad without
doing so. He merely illustrates ONLY the negatives of the Pahlavi regime,
which serves only to give the reader a negative opinion of the United States
efforts abroad with none of the perspective required to make an informed
judgment. Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's flaws are a part of the story, but they are
nowhere near the most important part of the story.

"If it is excluded out of discomfort or disagreement with other takes then
our understanding is poorer and we are less likely to reach conclusions and
take actions
that are actually helpful toward our deepest goals."

Again, considering that not only did I point out the Shah's repression in my
rebuttal post, but also illustrated examples by South Korea's Syngman Rhee
and other US proxies, I do not see where your point about it being excluded
comes in. I would argue then that Sean is more guilty of this, since he at no
point illustrates the positive aspects of the Shah's regime. If one is truly
interested in deeper understanding of an issue, then one should welcome the
study of both the good and bad of any given issue. Failing to do so in my
mind merely allows one to remain stuck in the mold of whatever ideology they
subscribe to.

> Had not Islamic fanatics of
> the terrorist organization Fedaiyan-e Islam (Devotees of Islam)
> assassinated then Iranian Prime Minister Ali Razmara in 1951, Mohammed
> Mossadegh would never have been appointed Prime Minister in Iran (by the
> Shah, who you heavily criticize, a point I will address shortly).
> Razmara staunchly opposed nationalization of the oil companies on the
> grounds that Iran should abide by its international agreements and
> because he felt they could not run the oil fields alone.

"Does this though deny the other side or add aspects and
dimensions to the unfolding story?"

Yes, I believe it does, given that it illustrates that not all Iranian
political thought was united on the course of action subsequently taken by
Mossadegh. Moreover, it also illustrates the role Islamic fundamentalists were
playing in the destabilization of the Iranian domestic political situation
some thirty years before the Iranian revolution.

> A continued Razmara administration then would not have nationalized
> the oil fields, the sanctions you speak of would never have occurred,
> and a pro-western regime endorsed by the Western powers would have been
> continually aided and supported Iran for the foreseeable future. Therefore,
> not only are the Islamic fundamentalists to blame for the chaos in Iran in
> 1978-79, they are also to blame for the difficulties which occurred in the
> 1950's.

"This seems rather silly doesn't it? You are claiming one
assassination is responsible for everything?"

No more so than Sean is claiming the US instigated coup against the Mossadegh
regime subsequently prevented Iran from achieving democracy and that the US is
therefore responsible for everything which subsequently happened.

> Let me say now that I am partly to blame for this game of "Who did
> what" oneupsmanship. In responding to Mez originally, as is seen above, I
> responded more forcefully than perhaps what was appropriate. I took strong
> issue with his apparent claims that US foreign policy during the Cold War
> was somehow intentionally anti-democracy. In my subsequent discussions with
> Mez we were able to clarify and elaborate on our positions. Though I did
> not agree completely with him, I found him to be a fair, thoughtful, and
> intelligent poster. But, given my initial reaction, I am not surprised that
> Sean replied in the manner in which he did.

"It is well known that we have often acted intentionally anti-democracy in
several countries in the world. It is pointless and unhelpful to deny this."

I find your characterization of US decisions completely unfair. As I pointed
out at length to Mez, and as Lee Corbin eloquently stated recently, the choice
abroad for the United States during the Cold War era was not one between
democracy and authoritarianism. It was a choice between authoritarianism
and far worse. Democracies did not just spontaneously appear and thrive
during the world of the 1950s and 1960s. To illustrate what I mean, all one
need do is study the histories of the African nations Ghana, the Gambia,
Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Libya, the Central
African Republic, and Uganda, (among many others) to see examples of where
democracy was hoist upon a country and it was swallowed up by military coup
d'etat. Most of these nations were outside the interest/touch of Cold War
geopolitics. Democracy was a process that evolved and took several centuries
to take hold in the West. To expect it to magically take hold and thrive
overnight in nations with dissimilar political traditions is folly. Is it
not more logical to subscribe to Lee Corbin's excellent point that these
nations in many cases are not the ideal hosts for overnight democracy? Or
shall people instead cling to the nonsensical argument that the US is at
fault for democracy failing to be spread abroad? The United States has done
more to further the spread of democracy and freedom than any other nation
in the world. To attempt to deny this fact is pointless, unhelpful, and
intellectually dishonest.

> Having addressed the hyperbole on both sides, I would like now
> to address my main concern with Sean's post. As I commented to Mez, I
> cannot abide judgments passed on US foreign policy that make it appear
> these decisions were being made in a vacuum. To "describe" the US-Iranian
> relationship during the Cold War without once mentioning the Soviet Union,
> as Sean does, is to simply ignore reality.

"Do you then believe the Cold War justifies real terrorism
against societies and governments around the world? That the
end, slowing, halting and rolling back Soviet expansion,
justified any and all means? If so, then why would you have
trouble admitting just how vile some of the means were?"

Again, at one point do I not fully acknowledge and catalog the sometimes
unfortunate means that were required to combat Soviet expansionism? But I will
not subscribe, as you seem to be doing, that there existed an option for the
United States that involved sitting back and doing nothing that somehow would
have delivered us a world which was more pro-freedom and democratic.

>I find it even more unfortunate that he did not in his rebuttal address my
>point, which was that the abdication of the Shah played a direct role in
>the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. It is simply not realistic to
>suggest otherwise. The transformation of Iran from a pro-western nation
>with US bases to a nation completely hostile to it had a profound impact on
>Soviet thinking. All one need do is look at a map of the region.

"I think your point is rather minor in this fuller context presented, don't

How is my point, that involved a lessening in the quality of life for both
the Iranian and Afghani people, not to mention the Soviet troops fighting
to conquer Afghanistan, "rather minor" and somehow not a "fuller context"
than that of a limited description of the domestic situation in Iran? I must
honestly admit that I believe you are the one guilty of not acknowledging the
"fuller context" in this instance.

> Another serious issue I have with Sean's post is his characterization of
> the regime of the Shah of Iran. In his post Sean succinctly points out
> the methods of repression used by the Shah, methods which would lead to
> the imprisonment (and in many cases deaths) of thousands of Iranians
> during his 25 year regime. This was the dark side of the Pahlavi regime,
> and something that should be rightfully pointed out.


> However, Sean in no
> way gives any sort of historical context to his analysis. What third
> world regime of this era did not utilize these tactics?

"But how many of them were proped up so strongly by the US?"

To answer your question directly, Samantha, the answer is not the majority
of them. Again, Samantha, whether you wish to admit it or not, the question
for the US was one of choosing between authoritarianism and something worse,
not between democracy and authoritarianism. Let us now take the example of
South Korea. In 1950, the United States had the option of choosing between
Syngman Rhee, an authoritarian thug, or allowing that nation to fall into
the totalitarian hands of the Communist Kim Il Sung. The United States
chose to support the authoritarian Rhee. Today, the people of South Korea
enjoy a quality of life better than most nations of the world, including
their neighbors to the North, who are starving and remain backward and as
anti-extropian as they come. Now, are you seriously going to suggest that
because the United States supported an antidemocratic regime in South Korea,
that the subsequent gains made by the people there are somehow tainted?

>Anwar Sadat, a man whose courage to deal with the Israelis is something I
>greatly admire, was certainly guilty of this kind of repression. Syngman
>Rhee executed 2000 suspected Communists in South Korea without trial in the
>early 1950's. Certainly no regime in the Communist camp could plead innocent
>to this barbarism. In illustrating that other regimes operated in the same
>way, I do not seek to excuse or justify the Shah's repression. I merely
>mean to make clear that to pretend or ignore that others didn't is at best

"How is this even relevant? That other monsters existed did not
make the Shah, who we supported, any less monstrous."

It is relevant because Sean's characterization of the Shah was one that
suggested he did nothing positive for the people of Iran. More importantly,
it suggests in his view that no regime that engaged in that sort of behavior
could be supported by the United States. Ninety percent of the regimes in
the world during this era actively participated in repression of dissent, so
it would've been impossible for the United States to contain communism, let
alone conduct any sort of foreign policy if this standard was used as the
basis for interaction with other nations. To hold the regimes of this era to
the standard of the contemporary United States is absurd, and illustrates a
profound lack of understanding for 20th century world affairs.

> To allow unfettered dissent in such
> a time was to show weakness and vulnerability and sow the seeds of one's
> own demise, as the Shah would learn a quarter century later. This was
> the unfortunate reality of this era.

"Would you support the US deciding this is the reality and using
such means on its own citizens? The legal instruments that
would eventually allow it are being forged even as we discuss

I initially thought I would not address a point as hyperbolic as this,
but I feel it must be addressed. It is obvious that you are not a fan of
the current US administration, but I think you do the quality of debate a
great disservice when you recycle old Vietnam era arguments that the United
States is in the process of becoming a garrison state. The United States
is doing less to silence dissenting voices in times of war than it ever
has before. During World War I, German-Americans were persecuted, and the
socialist candidate for president, Eugene Debs, was thrown in prison for
making anti-war statements. 120,000 Japanese nationals were imprisoned in the
"internment" camps of World War II. 6000 draft resisters were prosecuted in
the US during that same war. Democracy has grown stronger, not weaker in this
country since then. The government chose not to prosecute for treason any of
those US citizens who had offered "aid and comfort" in North Vietnam, a direct
contrast to each of our prior military engagements. If you wish to debate the
merit of our past decisions abroad, fine, but let us not become entangled in
fanciful discussions on the impending doom of democracy in the United States.

> The majority of nations in the
> world were not democracies during the 20th Century. A large portion of
> the blame for this can be placed on the Soviet Union, which attempted to
> foster a climate of the exact opposite system of government throughout
> the globe. To somehow blame repression, or worse a lack of democracy, on
> the United States is absurd, as it somehow suggests that the world would
> have had more democracies had the US chosen a policy of inaction and
> less influence.

"When we support and prop up governments making them much less
likely to be subject to change by their people, we act
anti-democractically and act to repress those who would change
their country toward greater democracy."

Your argument does not stand up to historical scrutiny. South Korea, Greece,
and the Philippines, for example, all had regimes supported for a decade or
more by the United States that were not democratic, and yet each country
managed to achieve democracy through their own internal efforts. This was not
the case anywhere in the Communist world during the ascendancy of the Soviet
Union. Had we not "propped up" the authoritarian regime of Syngman Rhee in
South Korea, then there would be no democracy in that nation today. You seem
to be suggesting that the United States was the main culprit in preventing
democracy abroad, when it is readily apparent that it was the most positive
force for its spread, directly or indirectly, that the world has ever seen.

"Influcence and action
that increases what we do not want and gets little of what we do
want is not very wise action or influence. Historically we must
understand what we actually did and its unintended consequences."

These actions achieved what we did want, the containment and eventual end
of expansionist Communism. In many cases, it provided the opportunity for
democracy to thrive where it would not have otherwise. (South Korea, Taiwan,
etc.) In simply focusing upon the failings of the regimes the US supported,
you fail to paint a clear picture of what positives were achieved, both abroad
an in terms of the quality of life for the peoples of the nations in question.

> He was also determined that his people become a literate one. The
> literary rate in Iran in 1977 was 85%. Today, it is only 72%, with Iraq at
> 58% and Egypt at 51%. Primary school attendance rose from 270,000 in 1960
> to over 10 million in 1977.

"The Shah did some great things, sure. So did the Soviet Union. But that
doesn't mean we did not also err greatly in our
support for him when we did not do more to stop his very
negative and anti-democratic aspects."

And allowing him to fall has somehow bettered the lives of the Iranian
people? I dare say the fall of the Soviet Union has bettered the lives of
Eastern Europeans among others, even though you suggest that regime "also
did great things." This has simply not been the case in Iran. All of the
achievements which I mentioned regarding the Shah's have seen reversals in
present day Iran. He had many faults, as I have readily acknowledged. But he
also brought a better quality of life to his people than that enjoyed by most
of the people in the Middle East even today.


Max Plumm

"The final verdict of history is not rendered quickly. It takes not just years
but decades to be handed down. Few leaders live to hear the verdict."


Monday, February 24, 2003

We must reach for the stars
The Objectivist Center
by Edward Hudgins
"[S]pace travel and most other tasks involve risk. But the
risks of choosing timidity and apathy are even worse." (2/3/03)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Good post

Mez wrote:

> Here's the problem. If we're not committed to establishing democracy
> in Iraq, we may be content to install (or allow to come to power) a
> "friendly dictator". That serves US short term interests just fine -
> it stops Iraq from getting nukes. But in the long term, friendly
> dictators increase terrorism against the US and destabilize the
> world.

I do not necessarily agree with your conclusion, given that US support of "friendly dictators" in South Korea, Greece, and the Philippines, among other Cold War proxies, all lasted for several decades and in each case ended in democracy coming to those nations through the heroic efforts of the people in the countries involved, not through the directive of the United States. And a nation that did reach democracy through directive, Japan, was still seen in Cold War terms first. Our support of these regimes did not lead to lasting and bitter hatred of the US in these countries. However, this policy did serve both the long term and short term interests of both the United States and the countries in question, as these countries did not fall under the banner of communism and eventually embraced democracy.

"I could go on. Suffice it to say, US foreign policy has not been one
of encouraging the spread of democracy and capitalism to the rest of
the world. Much the opposite. I would welcome a foreign policy that
was actually consistent with the principles this country was founded

This gets to the heart of my problem with your argument. To suggest that the United States has had a foreign policy which has been "the opposite" of one that spreads democracy and capitalism is in my view at best unfair, if not dishonest. Especially when compared, for example, to those European nations that now criticize and oppose the US efforts vis-a-vis Iraq. You pile on the US decisions to support authoritarians abroad during the Cold War, without putting those decisions in any kind of historical perspective. Where is a nation that has a better track record? With all due respect, I don't believe Gamal Abdel Nasser's efforts in Yemen were about bringing that country "democracy and capitalism."

Let me say now that I believe you and I are looking toward the same thing, a free and democratic Iraq. Our disagreement comes, it seems, in whether or not the United States can achieve this while acting in its own interests first. The United States interevened in Afghanistan not for the sake of the Afghani people, but for our own defensive concerns. Nonetheless, the people of Afghanistan have and will continue to benefit from this action.

I am of the opinion that US action in Iraq will have the same benefits for the Iraqi people, all the while satisfying our internal interests. I am also of the opinion, and only time will tell the validity of it, that in the post-Soviet world, the US will be able to be more patient and allow more democratic personalities to come to the fore. I think this has already been seen with Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan as caretaker. This was not a luxury we had in the Cold War world, where in most cases democracy was a foreign concept. To sit idly by and hope that it took hold in a place like South Korea or Greece would have meant forfeiting that nation. I cannot abide your bashing of US decisions to support bullies and petty tyrants like Syngman Rhee or Lon Nol. The choice was not between authoritarianism and democracy. The choice was between authoritarianism and worse.

I for one do agree with your assertion that it will require a prolonged US effort to see that a vibrant and free Iraq comes to pass. It is my opinion and my hope that they will be engaged in making the process work. However, the first steps on that road do not need to be paved with altruism.


Max Plumm

"Americans are very interesting people. When you came here in 1945, we had all the Communists in jail. You made us let them all out. Now you tell us to to put them back in jail again. That's a lot of work, you know."

-Shigeru Yoshida
An interesting phenomena I heard of today, that some larger elements can be excited at the nucleas level, and held in a stable state of excitation, and then coaxed into releasing that stored energy. It is not a nuclear reaction per se, just an inredibly more effecient system of storing energy. Fascinating, I wonder what the energy density of such a storage mechanism is?

Nuclear-powered drone aircraft on drawing board

From -

19:00 19 February 03

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition

The US Air Force is examining the feasibility of a nuclear-powered version of an unmanned aircraft. The USAF hopes that such a vehicle will be able to "loiter" in the air for months without refuelling, striking at will when a target comes into its sights.
The two governments that do not maintain armies and weapons
solely for defense are the US Government and Israel, a coalition of
pure evil intent on destroying human freedom." (02/19/03)

This is the kind of crap that makes me shamed to have any association with liberterians, at least the absolute isolationist half of the camp. The US and Isreal are a coalation of pure evil!!! Cmon!!! What about Saddam's hundreds of thousands of deaths on his hands, or Kim Jong Il's 2 - 3 million deaths from starvation in North Korea? Last I checked, the Taliban had banned music, women being in public alone, etc. etc. The US has removed the Taliban from power, where is the pure evil intent on destroying human freedom? This is just crap, an absolute ideal of the US evil over all other consideration, everything the US does must be wrong entirely. Rediculous.
This is the same Nobel peace prize that was given to Yassar Arrafat and the North Vietnamese communist general, both mass murderers.

12) Chirac put on Nobel Peace Prize list
Guardian Unlimited

"The French president, Jacques Chirac, has been nominated for this
year's Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to avoid a US-led war
against Iraq .... The Elysée insisted yesterday it had no idea who
had submitted his name to the Nobel Institute, whose 150-strong list
of candidates for the 2003 prize includes the Pope, the rock singer
Bono and George Ryan, the former Illinois governor who pardoned the
state's death row inmates before retiring." (02/20/03),2763,899155,00.html
11) French fries axed over Iraq stance

"A fast food restaurant in North Carolina has renamed its french
fries in protest at the French stance on Iraq. Neal Rowland, the
owner of Cubbie's restaurant in Beaufort, said he now serves freedom
fries." (02/19/03)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Editorial in English Paper on 9/11

No matter what your views on President Bush's statement of upcoming war,
this, from an English journalist, is very interesting. For those of you not
familiar with the UK's Daily Mirror, this is a notoriously left-wing daily
that is normally not supportive of the Colonials across the Atlantic.

Tony Parsons Daily Mirror September 11, 2002

ONE year ago, the world witnessed a unique kind of broadcasting -- The mass
murder of thousands, live on television. As a lesson in the Pitiless
cruelty of the human race, September 11 was up there, with Pol Pot's
mountain of skulls in Cambodia, or the skeletal bodies stacked like garbage
in the Nazi concentration camps. An unspeakable act so cruel, so calculated
and so utterly merciless that surely the world could agree on one thing -
nobody deserves this fate. Surely there could be consensus: the victims
were truly innocent, the perpetrators truly evil.

But to the world's eternal shame, 9/11 is increasingly seen as America's
comeuppance. Incredibly, anti-Americanism has increased over the last year.
There has always been a simmering resentment to the USA in this country -
too loud, too rich, too full of themselves and so much happier than
Europeans - but it has become an epidemic. And it seems incredible to me.
More than that, it turns my stomach.

America is this country's greatest friend and our staunchest ally. We're bon
ded to the US by culture, language and blood. A little over half a century
ago, around half a million Americans died for our freedoms, as well as their
own. Have we forgotten so soon? And exactly a year ago, thousands of
ordinary men, women and children - not just Americans, but from dozens of
countries - were butchered by a small group of religious fanatics.

Are we so quick to betray them? What touched the heart about those who died
in the twin towers and on the planes was that we recognized them. Young
fathers and mothers, somebody's son and somebody's daughter, husbands and
wives, and children, some unborn.

And these people brought it on themselves? And their nation is to blame for
their meticulously planned slaughter? These days you don't have to be some
dust-encrusted nut job in Kabul or Karachi or Finsbury Park to see America
as the Great Satan. The anti-American alliance is made up of self-loathing
liberals who blame the Americans for every ill in the Third World, and
conservatives suffering from power-envy, bitter that the world's only
superpower can do what it likes without having to ask permission.

The truth is that America has behaved with enormous restraint since
September 11. Remember, remember.

Remember the gut-wrenching tapes of weeping men phoning their wives to say,
"I love you," before they were burned alive.

Remember those people leaping to their deaths from the top of burning

Remember the hundreds of firemen buried alive.

Remember the smiling face of that beautiful little girl who was on one of
the planes with her mum.

Remember, remember - and realize that America has never retaliated for 9/11
in anything like the way it could have.

So a few al-Qaeda tourists got locked without a trial n Camp X-ray? Pass the

So some Afghan wedding receptions were shot up after they merrily fired
their semi-automatics in a sky full of American planes? A shame, but maybe
next time they should stick to confetti.

AMERICA could have turned a large chunk of the world into a parking lot.
That it didn't is a sign of strength. American voices are already being
raised against attacking Iraq - that's what a democracy is for. How many in
the Islamic world will have a minute's silence for the slaughtered innocents
of 9/11? How many Islamic leaders will have the guts to say that the mass
murder of 9/11 was an abomination?

When the news of 9/11 broke on the West Bank, those freedom-loving
Palestinians were dancing in the street. America watched all of that - and
didn't push the button. We should thank the stars that America is the most
powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that 9/11 did not
provoke all-out war. Not a "war on terrorism." A real war.

The fundamentalist dudes are talking about "opening the gates of hell," if
America attacks Iraq. Well, America could have opened the gates of hell
like you wouldn't believe.

The US is the most militarily powerful nation that ever strode the face of
the earth. The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than perfect and
the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.

But don't blame America for not bringing peace and light to these wretched
countries. How many democracies are there in the Middle East, or in the
Muslim world? You can count them on the fingers of one hand -assuming you
haven't had any chopped off for minor shoplifting.

I love America, yet America is hated. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle.
But I would rather be a dog in New York City than a Prince in Riyadh. Above
all, America is hated because it is what every country wants to be - rich,
free, strong, open, optimistic. Not ground down by the past, or religion,
or some caste system. America is the best friend this country ever had and
we should start remembering that.

Or do you really think the USA is the root of all evil? Tell it to the
loved ones of the men and women who leaped to their death from the burning
towers. Tell it to the nursing mothers whose husbands died on one of the
hijacked planes, or were ripped apart in a collapsing skyscraper. And tell
it to the hundreds of young widows whose husbands worked for the New York
Fire Department.

To our shame, George Bush gets a worse press than Saddam Hussein. Once we
were told that Saddam gassed the Kurds, tortured his own people and set up
rape-camps in Kuwait. Now we are told he likes Quality Street. Save me the
orange center, oh mighty one! Remember, remember, September 11. One of the
greatest atrocities in human history was committed against America.

No, do more than remember. Never forget.
4- Comparing Saddam to Hitler is justified
Town Hall
by Jonah Goldberg
"It's true, Saddam Hussein is no Hitler, but that's not because
Saddam isn't trying his best to be one (actually, he's reportedly
a bigger fan of Stalin)." (2/19/03)
-----Original Message-----
From: OG

Greetings Michael D.,

"I hope you read JR and Ray's post. They essentially stated my view on the matter in different words. To respond to your post. If modern science knows exactly how X-rays cause birth defects(as you say) why was it still being used(and in texts) as recent as 1970's?"

Is 1970 the present?

"Picking and choosing which "results of medical science to support" i think is very wise. Because I don't think science is all knowing and still very much evolving in its own right. "

And what makes you think are 'all knowing' or more capable of deciding what knowledge is valuable and what knowledge is not valuable over the thousands and thousands of researches who have spent their entire lives studying things you causally dismiss on 'intuition'? Ever heard of 'perception bias'? We ourselves are the easiest to fool, which is why the tools of logic and science must be employed because nature does not abide by our wishes.

"That said, I think rigidly analyzing numbers and facts as the only means of obtaining truth is bogus and very limited, IMO."

And I should hope this disdain for empirically edifying knowledge should also be something readers remember when deciding to heed your advice. Perhaps you have some better methods? Tossing chicken bones? Astrological inquiries into the benefits of microwave cooking? Yet you do not apply this same disdain for 'rigidly analyzing numbers and facts' when seeing the evidence that suggests a CRON diet can extend ones life.

Perhaps Doug Skrecky, instead of his painstaking, valuable, and meticulous experiments on fly longevity should merely ask your intuition? What was his most recent trial run, #81?

"Many a great scientific discovery and advances has come about from the spontaneous, imaginative child-like play of INTUITION.(Have you forgotten that the current paradigm of physics-relativity theory, is due to Einstiens subjective and intuitive experience of traveling on a beam of light!? And yes, in such a world a rock can suddenly fall upwards depending on ones perspective!)"

A common misconception, the 'genuis' myth. Einstein did NOT come of with his theory of relativity by imagining himself riding on a beam of light. Read Einstiens first published paper "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies" and show me where he talks about 'riding a beam of light'. He came up with it through painstaking years and years of methodical mathematical rigor and studying all current aspects of physics (which had not been popularly called physics yet, it was still just 'mathematics') There is no such thing as magical leaps of intuition. Intuition is formed in the complex pattern recognition capabilities of a human brain, a distributed network pattern recognition system which often does not require external cues to recognize subtle patterns. As an example, ask yourself what exactly do you recognize about your mother's face, and then try to describe it to a friend so they will recognize your mother as readily as you do. There is no one thing that your brain recognizes as 'mom' there are millions of subtle cues distributed throughout your brain that each recognize certain parts, the feelings that results is one of 'mom'. The human brain is an immense pattern recognition machine. This is the same with 'instinct' (non-genetic instinct) and 'intuition' So yes, trust your intuition, but recognize it is not magical or supernatural. And remember intuition can only be based on acquired knowledge and pattern recognition, so if your acquired knowledge is limited, your intuition can certainly be wrong. To suggest that Einstein merely imagined himself hopping on a beam of light and discovering relativity does disservice to the years of effort he put into that theory. There is no doubt he enjoyed thought experiments like that, as did other physicists such as Richard Feynman, who frequently imagined himself as an electron inside of an atom. But there is little doubt that it was the years and years of hard work that coupled with creativity that lead him to his discovery, not some magical accidental occurrence. And there have been plenty of other intuitive flashes of genius like that which were proved utterly wrong.

"s for your comment on science coming closer and closer to some "absolute" truth out there in nature........actually, we are coming closer and closer to realizing that the absolute truth exists in our own minds!"

A solipsists and a relativists eh? If absolute truth exists in your own mind, then why are your mere thoughts or feelings incapable of altering the course of a single spec of dust in the entire universe?

"Take the poetic words of the brilliant, British Physicist Eddington if you think I am pulling your leg :)"

No thanks, I hold off on the current eastern mysticism tangled philosophical quanderings about QM and our creating our own realities bunk until its no longer fanciful and passes by the mainstream scientifically illiterate radar. In the meantime, perhaps you should put down 'the Dancing Wu Li masters' and pick up 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'

"We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature. We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origin. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own."

A lot of words that say nothing. Exactly the kind of new agey anti scientific gobbledygook that I am continually disturbed to see permeating a list that is based on a diet only discovered through the highest standards of scientific integrity.

(An Excellent Rand Esque appreciation of technology article)

"The Long Room" (February 15, 2003)

"Hang on, let me see for myself what is going on down there!"

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

OG wrote:

>"PS My approach is make decisions by relying 50% on science and 50% on

Michael Dickey wrote:

>If you were to take such an approach in Quantum Mechanics, no doubt you
>would be quite wrong in alsmot all cases. If practicing scientists had
>adopted such a philosophy we would have no lasers, spectrometers, MRI's,
>semiconductors and computers, etc. etc. etc. There is nothing in nature
>that says it must behave in a way that gives us happy feelings in our
>experience, slow, low energy macroscopic world.

As a practicing physicist, I understand that Michael's view. I used to
have it myself. Now, I think more about all the wonders medical science
gave us in the last century: formula fed is better than breast fed,
lobotomies, all fat is bad, x-ray cures for acne, psychoanalysis,
thalidomide, arthroscopic knee surgery (proven no better than sham
surgery), telling everyone that sun is bad (so much so that we now we have
widespread vitamin D deficiency), and the recent embrace of acupuncture.
There's a lot of fashion that calls itself science. Doctors are good at
taking care of many acute diseases, but they're utterly pathetic when
telling you how to live to avoid chronic disease.

By the way, I'm not afraid of standing near operating microwave ovens. The
leaked microwave radiation is broad-band, and it's small compared with
what we get from the sun. This is the kind of thing that hard scientists
can measure. Who knows? There could be effects and features of the
microwave radiation that we haven't considered (after all, it doesn't
follow a blackbody spectrum identical to tahat of the sun), but I wouldn't
spend long worrying about them. On the other hand, I could believe that
relatively intense narrow-band microwaves from a cell-phone held against
your head could do damage. High intensity in a narrow band makes it
different from what we would have experienced in the wild.

For any new element introduced in our environment, it's difficult to prove
whether or not it creates damage in people. As far as I'm concerned,
anything that didn't exist in the paleo environment is suspect - as we've
learned painfully through the years after people had years of exposure
(ethylene chloride, PCBs, mercury, formaldehyde from household carpet,
etc...). You can't be sure that it's safe even though the medical
establishment has given its stamp of approval. On the other hand, if
something such as microwave radiation is similar in character (broad-band)
and lower in intensity than what you find in the Paleo environment, then I
would worry less about it. You can't worry about everything!

----Original Message-----
From: og

" Why take the risk? Medical science has been dead wrong in the past. As recent as 1970's X-rays were used in OBGYN in pregnant women.(written in medical texts as good science!) Obviously, we now know that that kind of radiation is potentially teratogenic to the growing fetus. "

Is this not the same medical science that suggests a CRON diet will extend ones lifespan? How do you pick and choose which results of medical science to support? Science continues to increase as a body of knowledge and its predictive and thus explanatory abilities also continue to improve, many practicing scientists feel this is an asymptotic relationship, that there is some 'absolute' truth out there somewhere that we are getting closer and closer to through our methodical study of nature. There is good reason to suspect this, as our descriptions of reality become every more accurate at predicting behavior of reality, not less accurate.

"As you alluded to, if there is no conclusive evidence either way in the microwave/cancer debate, IMHO, I think the smart thing to do is avoid the potential risk altogether."

Microwaves and X-rays have a significantly different makeup that is well understood by modern physics, medicine, and science. We know exactly why X-rays can and do cause cancers and birth defects, and exactly why there is no reason to suspect microwaves do that as well. That microwaves will suddenly be found to split the genome causing mutations is as likely as a rock suddenly falling upward.

"Also, I like the saying, "there are lies, damn lies, and then there is politics" IMO, there is ALOT of politics behind the scenes involving the food and medical industry."

And there are just as many political influences involved in the organic food / green / Environmental movement.

"PS My approach is make decisions by relying 50% on science and 50% on intuition."

If you were to take such an approach in Quantum Mechanics, no doubt you would be quite wrong in alsmot all cases. If practicing scientists had adopted such a philosophy we would have no lasers, spectrometers, MRI's, semiconductors and computers, etc. etc. etc. There is nothing in nature that says it must behave in a way that gives us happy feelings in our limitd experience, slow, low energy macroscopic world.

Michael Dickey
-----Original Message-----
From: SA

ML wrote:
> --- DB
> And just as the anti-Vietnam War movement was supported and funded by
> communist groups funelling money from Russia (as proven by the Venona
> Files and autobiographies of North Vietnamese leaders)

"This is absurd. I was a member of Quaker and other groups opposed to the war. We received no funding from anyone except those who volunteered funds, needed materials, time and a lot of sweat and heart. To believe some politicized claims at face value and to utterly disbelieve the integrity of all those who opposed Vietnam says very poor things about the credibility of your statements in this area."

SA, as I had mentioned before, Todd Gitland, former president of the SDS and who is still anti-war, lamented that he regrets that he did not notice early enough or do enough to stop the take over of the anti-vietnam war protests by communist supporters and sympathizers. Are you saying that Gitland is incorrect? The the Vietnam protests had no backing or support from communist sypmathisers? Gitland is also appaled that the recent ANSWER coalition protest (was that the one you attended?) is run by these same people. The people who founded ANSWER are proudly in support of Ayatollah Khomeini, Kim Jong Il, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.

Tod Gitland's Interview on NPR -

"You are making yourself a laughing stock."

You clearly disregard the above mentioned evidence, a statement made by one of the spiritual founders of the vietnam anti war protest that the the vietnam cause was taken over by pro-communist groups. Who is being made a laughing stock is clearly a subjective element.


It appears that Jaques Chirac, president of the allegedly
freedom-loving French nation, doesn't seem to think that the leaders of
eastern european nations should have a right to voice their opinions.
He is threatening to keep nations with pro-American views out of the EU
as their membership nominations come up for votes specifically because
they have signed statements in support of the US position on Iraq,
telling them that they "should keep their mouths shut".
From: gts

Nate wrote:

> What are the best ways to increase reading speed. Does increasing
> speed have drawbacks. Do the computer programs give you results, if
> so how much are they exaggerating the results they advertize.
> Let me know thanks, Nate

"The trick to speed reading is learning how not to "sound out" the words in one's mind as one reads. But as above it pleases me to sound out the words in my mind as I read, and so I lost interest in speed reading. "

Nate, I second gts's comments, I read often and have read a lot about speed reading but was quite skeptical of it. The other day I gave it a shot while reading something I didn’t particular enjoy but needed to read. You have to concentrate on not subvocalizing as you read (I understand some people do not, and I wonder if deaf from birth people read faster) because reading in that manner limits your speed to the subvocalization speed. As I understand it, the process is something like

1) brain recognizes word through pattern recognition
2) word is subvocalized
3) word entered into memory (kind of)

When looking at it like that, its hard to understand what the subvocalization is for, since part of recognizing a word necessarily entails recognizing that word! So anyway, I tried it the other day and made a concentrated effort to not subvocalize but I lead my eyes in the reading with a finger (another tactic often suggested) After each sentence I would stop and attempt to repeat the sentence, to my astonishment I found I often could repeat it word for word, with more accuracy than if I had subvocalized. The retentioned seemed to be better than the conventional type of reading, but it is very difficult to get used to reading without subvocalization, its like soaking up information without your upper level of conciousness being aware of it. I think that might be the role subvocalization plays, your super fast pattern recognition and information processing capable brain telling your relatively dimwitted serial process simulated 'conciousness' that you are in fact reading.

I need to practice more, but I keep tending back to subvocalized reading as gts mentions, because it seems more enjoyable?

> > The news [of western protests] is greeted with the
> > greatest elation by the government and Mr. Hussein.
> > we can expect that any thoughts Saddam Hussein has of
> > abdicating or to destroying his WMD are put on hold.
> > He'll naturally grasp at whatever straws are offered,
> > and all the so-called "peace" demonstrators---whose main
> > effect is to increase the likelihood of war
> [Vietnam, etc]
> Yes, it's just like those awful anti-nuclear marches. All the
> so-called "peace" demonstrators---whose main effect was to
> increase the likelihood of war--helped by their protests (
> which were greeted in the streets of Moscow
> with the greatest elation) to bring about the ruinous exchange in
> 1989 when the Soviet Union nuked the USA and vice versa.

And just as the anti-Vietnam War movement was supported and funded by
communist groups funelling money from Russia (as proven by the Venona
Files and autobiographies of North Vietnamese leaders), and the
anti-nuke movement in Europe was similarly funded by Moscow, I would
bet that an examination of the finance channels of the current anti-war
groups would find money coming from Arab, Russian, and Chinese sources.

interesting comments on extropy board...
A Soldier's Viewpoint on Surviving Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Attacks
From: SFC Red Thomas (Ret) Armor Master Gunner Mesa, AZ

Unlimited reproduction and distribution is authorized. Just give me credit for
my work, and, keep in context.

< >
11- Kicking the Vietnam syndrome
Hoover Institution
by H.R. McMaster
"Although the dangers of careless military activism are easy to
imagine, the cost of passivity is more difficult to discern. ...
Failure to intervene militarily often permits humanitarian crises
to continue and leads to more dangerous conflicts." (2/17/03)
1- Is Europe returning to the Dark Ages?
Cato Institute
by Patrick J. Michaels
"How else to explain three disturbing irrationalities in recent
times: distortion of genetic science resulting in massive African
starvation; perseveration on a global warming treaty ...; and the
public show trial of Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg ..."
15- Medical marijuana bill making progress in CT
Yale Herald
A bill allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with
"debilitating diseases" has passed through a Connecticut State
Legislature committee. If it becomes law, CT will be one of the
first eastern MMJ states. (2/14/03)

Medical marijuana may soon be legal in CT

Thursday, February 13, 2003

-----Original Message-----
From: JS

"jeez, this makes me feel like joining the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement ("

My god, this is just entirely disturbing. Extropians, can these memes be ranked high on the list of ones to erradicate. I am just practically speechless after looking at this site. Voluntary termination of the human species? Holy cow. Are these radcial luddite greens in disguise who see humans as nothing more than a evil invasion of or egregious abonomination to the 'natural' way of things (the universe sans humans, or any intellgent species for that matter) If no sentient beings existed, who would be there to appreciate existence?

I am in a perpetual state of shock. Is mere existence now a sin?

Michael Dickey
By Deena Beasley

"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Scientists for the first time have identified a
common genetic mutation in people over 100 years old, a finding they say
could be a key to discovering a way to avoid the ravages of aging.

"In a study conducted at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena,
California, researchers found that centenarians were five times more likely
than others to have the same mutation in their mitochondrial DNA.."
"Since the U.S. has very strict emissions controls, stricter perhaps than even Europe and *I know* stricter than Asia and Africa, it is the patriotic duty of all environmentally-minded Americans, to protect
the atmosphere that we all breathe, to burn as much petroleum as we possibly can, burn it cleanly before
3 billlllion Chinese and Indians burn it dirty."
-----Original Message-----
From: KB

Am Mittwoch, 12. Februar 2003 17:26 schrieb Dickey, Michael F:
> >> ### Ah, exactly, *somebody* must save my life against my will.
> > ... or save other lifes from your influence. Or would freedom also
> > include allowing to drive under influence of alcohol or other drugs?
> I think Kai is saying that by driving, you are polluting, polluting
> which can kill people. By driving under the influence, you an also
> kill people.

"Almost right. Those rules mentioned were not made to save someone against his own will, but to save someone against the stupidity of others. Some smart aleck may think that 30mph within cities is to slow for a freedom loving person like him, ignoring that this rule wasn't made to annoy him, but to protect the others. A society without any such rules would break
down soon because of the effort for everyone to protect himself against others and their "freedom"."

I understand what you are trying to convey (I think) and would be in tentative agreement with it, except that it bugs me just a little. Because by this reasoning you are essentially punishing someone for doing things that will make him more likely to injure people, instead of punshing them for actually injuring them. You are assuming guilt before a crime is committed. If it is wrong to run over and kill people, then punish people for doing that. But driving erratically or too fast is not killing people, until you actually run over and kill people. In which you will be tossed in jail for rediculous lengths of time deservingly, and serve as a reason to others why one should not drive fast or erratically. If a person hits and kills someone while drinking and driving, then they should be found guilty of 2nd degree murder. In fact, one could argue that driving and killing anyone through an act of negligence could be considered 2nd degree murder. Not something punishable by 6 months suspended licenses and 2 years probation. Regardless of what stupid thing you did that killed someone, you still killed them from your own actions, you are still a murderer. How is driving rapidly and recklessly morally indifferent than waving a gun around and firing randomly. If you hit and killed someone with your gun, you would be a 2nd degree murderer, would you not? But if you brandish an automobile recklessly and kill someone you get probation. Why is it less bad to kill someone through alchoholic impairment and negligence then it is to kill them willfully? This attidude is what perpetuates the acceptance of negligence and necessitates the existence of nanny states to limit negligence through 'too many' laws. The fact that we distinguish willfull killing through planning from accidental killing through negligence (with proportionally less punishment) is what allows so many people to be accidently killed through negligent behavior. How many drunken drivers would there be if they served 25 to life for 2nd degree murder? I am quite sure, at the very least, none of them would be repeat offenders. If you could be tossed in jail for half your life for driving too fast through a city and hitting and killing someone, would you drive that fast?

"So, too few (or wrong) rules is bad, too many rules is also bad. A middle course is the answer, not black, not white. "

I don’t think you have adequately shown that 'too few' rules would be bad, or worse than 'a middle road' or 'too many'

> This is the same guy, however, who thinks the possibility of a nuclear
> reactor killing millions is worse than the 3 million people who die
> every year from the pollutants from the combustion of fossil fuels.

"I still miss any serious facts that support your claim."

Since I have repeated multiple times the statistic that nearly 3 million people die every year from atmospheric pollutants from fossil fuel burning plants and you suggest I have not presented any 'serious facts' to support my claim, I can only wonder why you don’t consider this staggering number of deaths to be a serious fact? You must have an internally consistent, rational, and logical reason why you prefer continued fossil fuel burning in the face of these deaths over nuclear, and I am really trying to get the information to understand your personal rationalization of that, but right now, I am just completely confused. Is there a reason why you don’t see that as a good argument in favor of nuclear? Do you dispute those figures perhaps? Do you feel that a) more are dying every year from nuclear or b) more would die every year (or total) from nuclear power infrastructures?

As I have said (parroting myself again) approx 3 million people die every year from atmospheric pollutants specifically released from the combustion of fossil fuels in power plants. Thousands of others die in coal mining accidents, natural gas explosions, carbon monoxide inhalation, radon buildup from stricter energy requirements, etc. etc. Every time I see a natural gas line running into a resteraunt and hissing I am disgusted.

So I must conclude that you feel nuclear power would kill more than 3 million people per year if our infrastructure was based on that. That’s the only way I can see your opposition as being reasonable. Is that the case? I would be interested in reading the material you must have read that led you to this risk calculation.


Michael Dickey.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

An article from Salon on the leaders of the current anti-war movements, the dispicable ANSWER colation...

Intolerance on the left
by Michelle Goldberg

"Even as other members of the democratic left have denounced the
hardcore Maoists and Stalinists behind much recent antiwar
organizing, Michael Lerner, the dovish San Francisco rabbi and editor
of the liberal Jewish magazine Tikkun, has defended the role of
sectarians in the movement. ... So Lerner was understandably outraged
to learn that he'd been banned from speaking at the San Francisco
rally ANSWER is co-sponsoring on Sunday. ... An ANSWER spokesman ...
told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer that the group wouldn't allow a
'pro-Israel' speaker at its demonstrations." (02/12/03)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

23) Silence on Iraq's brutality to women
Fox News
by Wendy McElroy

"Before and after Sept. 11, politically correct feminists crusaded
for Afghan women oppressed by the Taliban. By contrast, little
outrage has been expressed over the treatment of Iraqi women under
Saddam Hussein. The silence may be currently appropriate -- feminist
goals should play no role in forming foreign policy. But the contrast

between the two reactions is puzzling, especially in the face of
horror stories coming out of Iraq." (02/11/03),2933,78126,00.html
23) Silence on Iraq's brutality to women
Fox News
by Wendy McElroy

"Before and after Sept. 11, politically correct feminists crusaded
for Afghan women oppressed by the Taliban. By contrast, little
outrage has been expressed over the treatment of Iraqi women under
Saddam Hussein. The silence may be currently appropriate -- feminist
goals should play no role in forming foreign policy. But the contrast

between the two reactions is puzzling, especially in the face of
horror stories coming out of Iraq." (02/11/03),2933,78126,00.html
12) Sisters sue Southwest over "racist rhyme"
Fox News

"A judge has set a trial date in a discrimination lawsuit filed
against Southwest Airlines by two black passengers who were upset
when a flight attendant recited a version of a rhyme with a racist
history. Grace Fuller, 48, and her sister Louis Sawyer, 46, were
returning from Las Vegas two years ago when flight attendant Jennifer

Cundiff, trying to get passengers to sit down, said over the
intercom, 'Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.' The
sisters say the rhyme was directed at them and was a reference to its

racist version ... The sisters are seeking unspecified compensatory
and punitive damages." (02/10/03),2933,78139,00.html

Monday, February 10, 2003

Hilarious article in Fortune:,15704,418994,00.html

What Would Satan Drive?

America, they say, has come to despise SUVs. We hit the road to find out
just how much.


Tuesday, February 4, 2003
By Brian O'Reilly

We are driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, waiting for the cellphone
to ring. Normally we'd hope that the damn thing never made a sound. But
today we are plumbing the depths of resentment that Americans bear
toward those polluting, car-crushing, un-Christian, Osama-funding road
monsters known as SUVs. Our vehicle is a canary-yellow, three-ton, 6
1/2-foot-high Hummer H2, with tires that look as if they came from an
earthmover. On the rear is our phone number and a big sign inviting
motorists to call.

Oh, it sounded like a great assignment at first. "I want you to do
something with a Hummer," said the editor. I assumed it was an update of
a story I'd done years ago about the testosterone-enriching off-road
capabilities of the original Humvee, splashing across streams and
creeping over boulders. Later my editor's intent became clear: Cruise
the suburbs and the urbs, highways and bird sanctuaries, attracting and
chronicling anti-SUV sentiment. Thanks, chief.

But today something's amiss. On the turnpike our fellow New Jerseyans
are uncharacteristically restrained. We press on and park the Hummer at
a rest stop on I-95 in Maryland. From a table inside, son Paul and I
watch for someone in the parking lot to spew venom at the truck. Is the
thing invisible? Later, as we rumble through Washington, D.C., nary a
catcall, brickbat, or middle finger greets us.

We arrive at our destination: a Baptist church near downtown Washington,
the ministry of Rev. Jim Ball. He is the guy who dreamed up the "What
would Jesus drive?" campaign that has seemed to stir up a storm of
Hummer hatred. His campaign distilled a free-floating hostility toward
the giant sport utes that now account for about a fifth of all cars sold
in the U.S. Pranksters slap stickers on SUVs' rear bumpers with the
mocking message I'm Changing the Environment. Ask Me How. A television
ad campaign argues that SUVs' thirst for gasoline is funding terrorists.
Surely Rev. Ball will shake a wrathful fist at us.

"Wow. That really is a truck," he says, eyeing with amusement the way it
towers over everything else in the parking lot. He explains gently that
his campaign was a natural extension of the question evangelical types
commonly ask--"What would Jesus do?" If we go to war with Iraq in part
because of our huge demand for foreign oil, Ball says, well, that
wouldn't be right, would it? We stare at our feet.

Ironically, Ball has gotten more heat from fellow evangelists about WWJD
than we got cruising 500 miles (at 10 1/2 per gallon) in a Hummer.
Televangelist Pat Robertson accused him of blasphemy. Rev. Jerry Falwell
told Ball on a talk show that he wished he owned a Hummer. On the phone,
a Falwell spokesman told us that the minister believes Jesus would have
driven a Hummer too. We decided Falwell needed a ride in a Hummer, so we
started off for his church in Virginia. But God had other plans: He hit
northern Virginia with an ice storm, thwarting our exegesis of His taste
in automobiles.

So we headed north to Atlantic City, figuring sinners might explain what
the godly could not. On the way we spotted a remote wetlands
environmental center--surely a hotbed of big-car antipathy. Anxious
about our reception, we briefly drove the Hummer down what turned out to
be a delicate footpath through the center's bird sanctuary. An elderly
worker emerged from a building and pointed us in the proper direction.
"Boy, you need tires like that on a day like this," she said admiringly.

In Atlantic City we spotted another Hummer parked near some casinos and
waited for the owner to show up and tell us what it's like to be a
pariah. He turned out to be a Danny DeVito-esque fellow named David
Branderbit, owner of a local copier-repair business. He squinted and
thought hard for a moment when asked if he'd been affected by the "What
would Jesus drive?" campaign. "I think I heard about that," he said
dubiously. Does he get any crap from strangers about what he drives?
Branderbit gestured at his Hummer as though the answer were obvious.
"They wouldn't dare."

We came to a startling conclusion: Nobody gives a damn what you drive.
From New Hampshire to California, the answers from Hummer owners were
the same. "The only negative comment I ever got was 'That's the ugliest
thing I've ever seen,'" says Kelley McNally, a petite San Francisco woman.

Far from being defensive, a surprisingly large number of Hummer owners
viewed their oversized, go-anywhere vehicles as helping them make the
planet a tad better. Susan Andersen uses her Hummer to save giant
Neapolitan mastiff dogs from being euthanized. The dogs can grow so big
and unruly that their owners take them to be destroyed. Andersen once
drove 25 hours from her home in Manhattan to Canada to transport a
condemned mastiff to a new owner. "I was driving through three feet of
snow. Nothing else would get me through."

Other Hummer owners say that their travels through the forest keep fire
roads open or that they can help rescue stranded hikers and motorists.
In Pennsylvania a Hummer owner who calls himself Biker Bill doesn't
worry what Jesus thinks. Because his Hummer seats only five, he bought a
Suburban, too, to collect his adult children and drive them to church on
Sundays. "They had a habit of saying they'd meet us there. They didn't
always make it."

So where does all the anti-SUV rhetoric come from? "It comes from you
guys back there on the East Coast," says Michael Lawler, a founder of
the Hummer Club in Los Angeles. "We love big trucks out here." Biker
Bill says, "It's a West Coast thing. Back here, we leave each other alone."

There was time left for one last attempt to flush out the anti-SUV
crowd. My son and I roared along the beach in Brigantine, N.J., up
(legally) into a huge wildlife preserve. Aha! A woman was watching the
birds. She spotted us. She raised her hand! This was it!

Alas, she waved. She smiled.
A fellow poster comments on the 'Hayek Principle' In which statism tends to form a postive feedback loop.

There is a political principle that says the more things you regulate
the more things you have to regulate. In fact Hayek says that it is this
idea that eventually leads all statists to a dictatorship. The number of
things being regulated become so numerous and the changes required to keep up
so numerous that eventually a court or legislature becomes incapable of doing
the job. Eventually the country arrives at a point it requires a man on
horseback to make all the decisions for everyone. Of course the more he is
stuck in one place making decisions the more he is out of touch so the worse
his decisions get.
You could argue that the reason that Germany & the Soviet fell was
because their leaders became progressively more and more out of touch until
they fell of their own weight.
After the fall of the Soviet, questions were asked why our CIA was
surprised by the collapse. The answer seems to be that the Soviet citizens
were so afraid to fail, least they be punished, they never reported the
truth. We had spies inside the KGB and were totally fooled because we
thought KGB numbers would be correct -- in the end even the KGB didn't know
what was going on.
In Germany no one had the guts to tell Hitler that he had suffered
loses or lost battles because they would be shot. In the end he was supposed
to be ordering no longer existent units to make stands at locations the
allies had long since captured.
Ford Motor Company production supervisors told me that under MacNamara
he would tell them to do as they were told or he would replace them -- a
really tough guy. According to the old timers they got to count any car
coming off the end of the production line and they dared not make their
quota. As a result they were rolling cars off the end of the production line
that weren't finished. They would then finish building the car out in the
parking lot.
Ron h.
added library of congress links

3) Chinese dissident sentenced to life
BBC News

"A US-based Chinese democracy activist has been sentenced to life in
prison after being convicted of espionage and leading a terrorist
group. Wang Bingzhang, 55, was sentenced ... after a one-day trial
behind closed doors in January .... China said in December it had
arrested Mr. Wang in the south of the country -- he had disappeared
in Vietnam six months earlier. The US human rights group, Free China
Movement (FCM), has accused Chinese agents of kidnapping Mr. Wang,
who is a US resident, and bringing him to China to lay 'false
charges.'" (02/10/03)

Friday, February 07, 2003

"I would rather understand one cause than be King of Persia."
--Democritus of Abdera
5- Anti-war argument "based on emotions"
by Jonah Goldberg
"[T]hat is what's so damning about the knee-jerk opposition of
so many anti-war liberals -- it's based in animus, not logic."

excerpt -

"Almost every week I have to debate some opponent of the war on CNN or radio, and most of the time, I get the sense that their reasons for opposing Bush are echoed in McGrory's sentiments.

They don't like war for vague, emotional reasons. They think, in the words of that noted geopolitical strategist Sheryl Crow, "war is based in greed" and the best way to avoid it is "not to have enemies." And while they concede Saddam Hussein is evil, they can only get passionate about the perfidy of our own president.

One gets the distinct sense that if Al Gore were in office, they'd have no problems with toppling Saddam. It's nice to have McGrory and her crowd on board. It would be nicer still if they were persuaded by more than Colin Powell's charm."
Where Have All the Marxists Gone?

Excerpt -

"While Marx was pro-science and pro-technology, his Green stepchildren deride such ideas. Instead they have announced that technology and science are, in fact, evil. They cling to the egalitarianism of Marx, but abandon any support for science and technology. Dismayed because socialism couldn't produce the goods, these socialists suddenly discovered that producing goods was an evil that needed to be avoided. This was a psychological coup. In one fell swoop the failure of socialism became its most endearing feature. Strip socialism of its pro-science, pro-technology viewpoint and you are left with today's Green movement. "

Thursday, February 06, 2003

"So exactly why are cars like this so unpopular in the US? Is it the
felt need to chauffeur around a stack of kids in something that feels

With all this talk about the different cars available to the US and European markets, its important to take a look at the driving habits of US and European markets as well. Europe has approx 4 times the population density that the US does.

Given that, US drivers will tend to need to drive longer distances on average than European counterparts and will probably tend to prefer cars that make that more comfortable. I am sure this is only one of the numerous reasons for the different driving styles / habits / preferences of Europeans and Americans, but it is an important one to note.

Response to nuclear comments

Michael wrote to K:

> I understand how your close proximity to this event could give you a
> particular point of view on it. But again, what about the 3 million
> people who are dying every year right now? What if they lived right
> next door to you? What if these 3 million people were everyone you
> knew, and everyone they knew? Will their families feel consoled by
> your concern about the vegatables being destroyed in Munich?
### I was even closer to Chernobyl when it happened - in southeastern
Poland. While of course I was angry at the communist regime for trying to
stall with informing the public, and I was appalled by the sloppiness shown
by Russians, I also know that most, if not all, of the "losses" of
agricultural produce outside Russia were due to ill-informed scaremongering,
rather than rational assessment of the situation. The amount of fallout was
minimal, well below level which can produce measurable health effects, most
of it in the form of short-lived isotopes, and therefore amenable to a
quarantine. The hysteria was fanned by the EU farmers, who saw imports from
the East as competition to their outrageously overpriced, heavily subsidized

This said, nuclear power plants in the heavily populated Western Europe
would act as a force multiplier for any attacker or terrorist smart enough
to blow them up, so European reticence about placing them in (almost
literally) their backyards, is somewhat understandable.

Response to my comments on a nuclear industry

Michael writes

> I am still not seeing how [Chernobyl] is worse than the 3 million people who
> are dying every year, right now. Do you feel that this number is perhaps
> inaccurate? You lost some veggies and some lambs, while 3 million people
> every year lose there lives.

I've always thought that figures such as these---three million---do
need to be adjusted for "expected number of years of life lost".
That is, although it's still a tragedy, the loss of an eighty-five
year old ought not to be regarded with the sense of loss as a
fifteen year old. Their deaths (on the first reading) cannot
be equated because the eighty-five year old is nearly certain
to die anyway shortly. And, if I recall correctly, your figure
did pertain to the elderly or already very fragile.

(That being said, of course, it's still always important for
extropians and cryonicists to emphasize that so far as we
know, all deaths today are needless. The technology currently
exists to banish death (again, so far as we know). Hence, from
this point of view, one can consider the death of an 85 year
old to be an even *greater* tragedy.)

So concerns about the safety of nuclear reactors which could
kill hundreds---or of coal mines which presently DO KILL
hundreds---should be compared to traffic accidents, or other
statistics which automatically take into account natural
lifespan, it seems to me.



> Citing Chernobyl as an example of unsafe nuclear reactors is like citing the
> titanic as a reason to think cruise liners are unsafe.

Yes, good point!
End in sight for reading glasses

BBC - Millions of middle-aged Britons could soon be able to throw away
their reading glasses. A new treatment, which reverses the damage caused
to the eyes by ageing, has now become available in this country. The
painless procedure, called conductive keratoplasty (CK), uses radio
waves to reshape the eye without surgery. The treatment lasts just five
minutes and costs between £1,000 and £1,500.
News in Aging research -

New Scientist - Old people can expect to die sooner if they have shorter
telomeres, pieces of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes.
Researchers have long suspected that telomeres act as molecular clocks
governing the process of ageing in cells, but until now nobody has
proven the link.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

More on nuclear power conversation

-----Original Message-----
From: KB

> Not a loony, simply a knowledgeable, concerned person who lives a whole
> lot closer to Chernobyl than I do..

"The effects of Chernobyl where significantly, even though we are >1500km away. I've found a quote that describes the most important effects: "A large amount of agricultural produce in Europe had to be dumped due to contamination from fallout. For instance, most vegetables in the region around Munich were destroyed because they had become contaminated with iodine-131. The southern portion of the former West Germany was more contaminated than the rest of it. There were also severe restrictions on agricultural activities, including sales of meat from three million sheep and lambs in northwestern England and the neighboring portions of Scotland and northern Wales, which were affected by rain-out of radioactivity when the fallout cloud passed over them."[2]"

I am still not seeing how this is worse than the 3 million people who are dying every year, right now. Do you feel that this number is perhaps inaccurate? You lost some veggies and some lambs, while 3 million people every year lose there lives. Or is it perhaps that I now grace your kill file as well? I just have difficulty understanding how you justify the continued use of fossil fuel combustion, which you admittedly dislike, but there are no alternatives currently available that *wont* kill 3 million every year except for nuclear power. Do we keep waiting for an alternative, while millions die every year? Do we reduce the global energy demand to substinence agriculture levels so we wont need nuclear or fossil fuel power? Not a world I would want to live in nor one that would be conducive to bringing about the singularity.

"If we would have just one accident like that in western Europe, we could only shut down everything and look for another place to live."

So, if a Chernobyl like accident occurred in a Chernobyl like plant in western europe devastation would occur. Solution, A) don’t build chernobyl like plants and B) don’t build them in western europe

Citing chernobyl as an example of unsafe nuclear reactors is like citing the titanic as a reason to think cruiseliners are unsafe. You are blaiming nuclear reactors for an accident that cost dozens of short term deaths, hundreds of cases of cancer and thousand or premature deaths, and some bad crops and lambs, instead of the corrupt murderous government that built, operated, and maintained said facility. A facility which would have never been built in any other nation. Chernobyl had no actual containment structure (as opposed to three unique independent ones most western reactors have) to prevent release of contamination. Such a design could not be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in this country, nor in most countries of the world. Had a chernobyl like accident occurred in a western reactor it would have been contained, but would have no chance of occuring in the first palce anyway. If there is anyone to blame for the horrors of Chernobyl, it’s the soviet government (which had allready killed some 10 million of its own people) NOT nuclear reactors. I am sure the Soviet Union killed many more in its thousands if not millions of faulty state products, wars, and famines. Do you blame those products for those deaths, or the government that sanctioned them and forced them on their people?

Does my making a beach ball that randomly explodes make all beach balls unsafe? Or just the beach balls that have hand grenades inside them?

I understand how your close proximity to this event could give you a particular point of view on it. But again, what about the 3 million people who are dying every year right now? What if they lived right next door to you? What if these 3 million people were everyone you knew, and everyone they knew? Will their families feel consoled by your concern about the vegatables being destroyed in Munich?


The Chernobyl Reactor: Design Features and Reasons for Accident

From -

"According to the Soviet experts the prime cause of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP was “…an extremely improbable combination of violations of instructions and operating rules committed by the staff of the unit” [3]. This conclusion sets a full responsibility for the accident at the Chernobyl NPP on its stuff. Participants of the Post-Accident Review Meeting [2] also accepted the Soviet version. However, it was incorrect. This was demonstrated in 1990 by the commission of the State Committee for Atomic Safety Survey of the USSR which concluded that the main reasons of the Chernobyl accident were serious shortcomings in the design of the Chernobyl reactor as well as inadequate documents regulating a safe operation of the reactor [4].

"Conclusions - The main reasons of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP were sever shortages of the design, severe infringements of the safety regulations for construction of the reactor as well as low safety culture in the USSR preceding the accident."

Fear's just bad for business
Interesting commentary from -

"There was a difference in attitude that went into the design of ChernobylD compared to Three Mile IslandD, and its roots could be found in the social ethic of each government in power at the time. One believed that profit was not important to motivate workers, while the other believed that profit was everything. As a result, one built a reactor with the cheapest design to save money, while the other spent a fortune and vastly overengineered. Guess which side built the cheap one? Yep, the Soviets. Not just because they wanted to save money, but because while they were busy dismissing profit as a motivator they also missed the importance of eliminating fear as a distraction."

"It's the impact of fear and worry on the locals which the Soviets disregarded, but the Americans held almost holy, and thus the big difference between Chernobyl and TMI. Chernobyl was based on a design that had a positive void coefficientD, which meant it was unstable at low power. The accident happened because the power level of the reactor fell unexpectedly, and the operator tried to compensate by removing the control rods and raising the power back to safe levels, only it got out of control."

"Three Mile Island, by comparison, was a story of poorly informed operators thwarting a heavily overdesigned system that was doing its best to safely shut down the reactor automatically. In both accidents there was an explosion of hydrogen. At Chernobyl it blew the cap off the reactor core and exposed hot graphite to oxygen, making it catch on fire. At Three Mile Island the explosion was completely contained, in fact it didn't even cause any undue stress to the containment building, which had 12-foot thick steel reinforecd walls. Chernobyl had no such containment building, only a concrete “bio shield”."

excellent article - Mike

In Praise of Roe v. Wade
Lee Daniel Crocker, January 22, 2003

from -;action=display;threadid=54666

The United States Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade has been
maligned by both sides of the abortion debate throughout the 30
years since it was issued on January 22, 1973. It has been called
a "non-decision", a "cop-out", "political weaseling" and much worse.
You've probably heard some of those opinions recently. Even though
many lawyers will tell you that in a civil case, a judgment that
both sides complain about is probably a good one, they nonetheless
will call this decision "cowardly" or "muddled".

But the facts are that the decision itself stands up remarkably
well to detailed analysis of the issues involved, and when we add
in all that we have learned about biology in the years since, it
can even seem prescient. I doubt that my words here will persuade
any of those who are truly commited to either side of this debate,
but I believe I can at least show that the justices really did know
what they were doing, legally, morally, and biologically.

First, let's make it clear what they really decided, since there is
confusion even over this. In a recent episode of ABC's series
"The Practice", for example, lawyer Eugene Young ridicules the
decision as "nine men in robes making a decision for the rest of us".
But Mr. Young's tirade is 180 degrees from the truth. The court did
not "make the decision" for everyone; they did exactly the opposite:
they said that the Texas legislature, despite being a group even
larger than the court and directly elected by the people of that
state, cannot make the decision for every woman in Texas. But the
decision was a bit more complex than that. They further divided
pregnancy into trimesters, and said that different rules apply to
each. In the first, only the woman involved can decide for herself,
and no legislature or court can interfere; in the second, the state
can regulate to some degree; and in the third, the state can step in
and even ban abortion outright if it chooses.

That three-part standard is what both sides complain about: those
who believe that all abortion is wrong don't like the court allowing
women that choice even in the first timester of pregnancy, and those
who favor absolute choice don't like the fact that the court let the
state step in before birth at all. Both sides refuse to recognize
any substantive difference between a first-trimester pregnancy and
a third-trimester one as far as fundamental rights are concerned.

So let's look at the issues involved, starting at the end: birth.
There is no question in our society that once a child has been born,
the umbilical cut and its lungs full of air, killing that child is
seen as a despicable crime. There have certainly been societies
where that was not the case: infanticide was tolerated and even
common in some cultures, but not here. Our culture, unlike many,
even assigns gender to infants: we call them little boys and little
girls from the moment of their birth, while most cultures only
separate men and women after puberty, treating all children as just
"children". Our attitudes are more in line with the facts. The
qualities that we admire, even revere, about people that make us
revile harming them are just as evident in an infant as an adult:
people think, and feel, and dream, and laugh, and love, and want;
infants do as well. Infant boys and infant girls have different
skills and different personalities that can be observed and
measured right from birth. Infants may not be be able to express
themselves as well as adults, but they clearly are /selves/,
thinking and feeling as whole people. In the past people have
asserted that infants didn't feel pain, or never remembered events
from their infancy, but we now know these beliefs are false, and
that infants do feel pain and joy much as adults do, and their
adult lives are affected by events in infancy, and even by
experiences before their birth.

The third-trimester rules of Roe acknowledge a simple biological
fact: that there is little fundamental difference in kind between
a child just before and just after birth. Hospitals are full of
infants born weeks early, and while they may need a bit of
assistance from modern medical technology, we clearly think of them
as "people" in every important legal and ethical sense, and whether
they are in a womb or an incubator doesn't much affect that
evaluation: they have thoughts and feelings and experiences in
either case, and the thought of ending their lives bothers us.
There is a person there, and it is reasonable for a state to step
in and protect that person from harm.

The picture at the beginning of pregnancy is very different. It
begins with the event of conception, though "event" isn't really
the right word because even conception is a complicated process
in many stages that can be accomplished in many ways. But for the
moment I'll concede the point. Once the DNA from the egg and sperm
have combined, the newly-formed zygote then begins to divide into
two cells, four, eight, and so on. At this point there aren't yet
any specialized cells: they're all stem cells, and will only take
on specialized roles as organs, nerves, and so on much later in
the process of development.

The process of development itself can take many turns. The
majority of the time, in fact, the process results in nothing at
all: most conceptions are simply flushed out with the mother's
next menstruation, and never develop, and the woman never knows
that any conception occurred at all. In those fewer cases where
the zygote does make it through the tubes to implant in the
uterus, its fate is still undetermined. It might develop into a
person, or two people, or three, or half. Identical twins, for
example, result when the multi-celled zygote splits at some point,
and both portions go on to implant and develop into fully formed
unique people (albeit with identical DNA). Identical triplets are
quite rare, but also possible. Another even rarer possibility is
that two different zygotes will merge at some point in their
development, and develop into a single fully-formed person with
two sets of DNA. These are called tetragametic chimeras, and are
often born with defects, but can also be born as perfectly normal
infants who may never know that they were the product of two
different conceptions.

This is where the "life begins at conception" argument falls down:
yes, a zygote after conception is living, in the same sense that
any of our skin cells or liver cells is living. They can divide and
grow (indeed, we can now grow skin and muscle tissue in vitro from
a single cell), and contain a full set of genetic material. But
the legal question is not whether the thing is living or not, or
even whether it is human. The legal question is "is it a person?",
in the sense of laws that make harming people an act of violence we
detest, or is it merely a collection of cells like the skin cells
we flush down the drain when we wash our hands, or blood cells that
we donate to the Red Cross? What is it about people that makes
them specially deserving of such protection? A good way to answer
that is to think of the twin case: why do we consider twins to be
two people, not one? It's simple: each twin thinks and feels and
dreams independently. Each has its own personality and its own
desires and fears. It is untenable to argue that the single zygote
that would later develop into these two people had any of those
qualities: it has no brain, no nerves, no eyes, no ears. It had
only the potential for developing those things--and we don't know
yet from the zygote stage exactly what it might develop into. It
might become a person, or two, or half, or it might not.

Likewise, there is nothing special about the type of cell that is
the zygote. We retain stem cells even into adulthood, and any of
them also has the potential to develop into any other kind of cell.
The day is not far off--if it hasn't happened already--when a single
cell from an adult human will be able to produce a cloned person,
just as Dolly the sheep was created from a cell of her mother.
Clearly, it would be morally repugnant not to grant that person the
same legal rights as other people, because she will have the same
thoughts and feelings as any other infant, despite the fact that she
was not the product of conception at all. Whether or not you
approve of cloning, the fact is that it demonstrates vividly the
fact that the concept of one-conception-one-person doesn't fly.

So the first trimester rules of Roe also reflect what we know about
biology: a few cells don't make a person, and it doesn't make sense
to arbitrarily grant them the rights of a person when we don't even
yet know what they may develop into. The mother, on the other hand,
is quite clearly a person, and her rights can and should be
protected. Laws against birth control, "morning after" pills, and
yes, even first-trimester abortion clearly do victimize real women,
and we simply can't legally or ethically justify that to protect
what is clearly not a person.

Lastly, there's the middle ground: the second trimester. The
justices here make another wise statement: we don't know. At this
point in the development of what's now a fetus, it begins to resemble
a person. Twins have already split, chimeras have already joined,
and it begins to develop a brain and eyes and ears. It might have
the beginnings of something like thoughts and feelings, or it might
not--we just don't know. And because we don't know, the justices
leave the issue for further debate by the people's representatives.

In short, the justices in Roe weighed the legal and biological
facts before them, and reached the right decision, despite the
fact that they had to decide decades before some of the biology I
mention above was known. I for one find that remarkable and
worthy of praise.