February 24, 2014

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The deeper implications of gay marriage and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are explored in The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
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Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
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The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
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Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
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A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

Plastic bodies, plastic souls

The Brave New World of Same-Sex Marriage by Michael Hanby

To accept same-sex unions as ‘marriage’ is thus to commit officially to the proposition that there is no meaningful difference between a married man and woman conceiving a child naturally, two women conceiving a child with the aid of donor semen and IVF, or two men employing a surrogate to have a child together, though in the latter cases only one of the legally recognized parents can (presently) contribute to the child’s hereditary endowment and hope for a family resemblance. By recognizing same-sex ‘marriages’ the state also determines once and for all that ARTs are not merely a remedy for infertility but a normative form of reproduction equivalent to natural procreation, and indeed it has been suggested in some cases that ARTs are an improvement upon nature. Yet if this is true, it follows that no great weight attaches to natural motherhood and fatherhood and that being born to a father and mother is inessential to what it means to be human, or even to the meaning of childhood and family. These are not fundamentally ‘natural’ phenomena integral to human identity and social welfare but mere accidents of biology overlaid with social conventions that can be replaced by ‘functionally equivalent’ roles without loss.
--
Underlying the technological conquest of human biology, whether in its gay or feminist form, is a dualism which bi-furcates the person into a meaningless mechanical body made of malleable ‘stuff’ and the affective or technological will that presides over it. The person as an integrated whole falls through the chasm. This is the foundation of the now orthodox distinction between ‘sex’ which is ‘merely biological’ and ‘gender’ which is socially constructed, as well as the increasingly pervasive (and relentlessly promoted) idea that freedom means our self-creation of both. Technological dominance over procreation imposes this bi-furcated anthropology upon parents and children alike, and codifying it implicitly makes this anthropology the law of the land.
---
The technological dominance of procreation asserts, contrary to the child’s true nature and to his parents’ unquestionable love for him, that a child is essentially a product of human making, an assemblage of parts outside of parts that are the parts of no real whole, whose meaning and purpose, as with all artifacts, reside not in itself but in the designs of its maker.
--
Huxley…and C.S. … saw that the plastic body emptied of its dignity through eugenics had as its necessary counterpart the plastic soul deprived of its human inheritance and emptied of its capacity for truly human thoughts, feeling, and experiences. This process too, which is even harder to see than it is to understand, is already well underway.
---
A culture that accepts such deep violence at the origins of life will have every incentive not to think about the profound questions of human existence that for so long animated Western culture—they cut too close to the heart—and so education, even now scarcely distinguishable from ignorance, will largely consist in learning not to ask them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2014

Sheeple students

How stupid can students be?  Well, what do you think of students who signed a petition to have gun owners executed in concentration camps?

Media analyst Mark Dice has once again documented how many young Americans are completely disconnected from reality, capturing California college students signing a fake petition to imprison all legal gun owners in concentration camps and even to have them executed.

I prefer to think of them as stupid or ignorant,  not evil but sheeple

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2013

Baby on the phone

 Baby On The Phone Cute, but babies are always cute.

A very modern milestone: 40% of babies use a mobile phone or tablet before they can even speak full sentences

Most parents monitor their child's development by the first time they crawl, walk and eventually talk.  But now there's a new milestone that mothers and fathers can eagerly look forward to: the first use of a mobile phone.

Nearly two in five babies have used a mobile phone or tablet - before they can even speak full sentences, new research has found.

A survey has found that 38 per cent of children aged under two have used gadgets like iPhones or Kindles for playing games or watching films.  In 2011 the same figure was just 10 per cent.

The researchers said that the findings showed a ‘fundamental change in the way kids consume media’.
They should also serve as a wake-up call to parents who increasingly turn to gadgets to entertain their children - but could be doing them harm.

The current recommendation from the American Academy of Paediatrics is that the under-twos should have no screen time at all.

If you want some really cute photos of kids, look at the Crazy Photos a Creative Dad Takes of His Daughters.

Also Artist Queenie Liao who takes adorable photos capturing her sleeping son in flights of the imagination

-Sleeping-Baby-Dreams Artist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2013

Online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today and as addictive as heroin

Experiment that convinced me online porn is the most pernicious threat facing children today: by ex-lads' mag editor Martin Daubney

The moment I knew internet pornography had cast its dark shadow over the lives of millions of ordinary British teenagers will live with me for ever.  I was sitting in the smart drama hall of a specialist sports college in the North of England with a fantastic reputation.  Before me were a group of 20 boys and girls, aged 13-14. Largely white, working class children, they were well turned-out, polite, giggly and shy.

As the presenter of a Channel 4 documentary called Porn On The Brain, airing next Monday at 10pm, I'd been invited to sit in on a forward-thinking class led by sex education consultant Jonny Hunt, who is regularly asked into schools to discuss sex and relationships. To establish what these kids knew about sex - including pornography - he had asked the children to write an A-Z list of the sexual terms they knew, no matter how extreme.

Most of these children had just hit puberty and some were clearly still children: wide-eyed, nervous, with high-pitched voices….These were clearly good children, from good homes. So far, so very, very ordinary.

But when Jonny pinned their lists on the board, it turned out that the children's extensive knowledge of porn terms was not only startling, it superseded that of every adult in the room - including the sex education consultant himself.

Nugget, what's that?' asked Jonny.
'A nugget is a girl who has no arms or legs and has sex in a porno movie,' chortled one young, pimply boy, to an outburst of embarrassed laughter from some, and outright revulsion from others.

The adults in attendance were incredulous at the thought that not only did this kind of porn exist, but that a 14-year-old boy may have actually watched it.

By the end of the hour-long class - and three others that followed with other children - I was profoundly saddened by what I had witnessed. While teenage boys will always be fascinated by, and curious about, sex, what's now considered 'normal' by under-18s is an entirely distorted view of intercourse and the way relationships should be conducted.

It seemed as if the children's entire expectation of sex had been defined by what they see in online porn. The conversation was horrifying enough, yet there was worse to come.

New neurological research reveals that porn is as potently addictive as heroin or cocaine.  The New Narcotic

In a statement before Congress, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, physicist, and former Fellow in Psychiatry at Yale, cautioned:

"With the advent of the computer, the delivery system for this addictive stimulus [internet pornography] has become nearly resistance-free. It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes. It’s now available in unlimited supply via a self-replicating distribution network, glorified as art and protected by the Constitution.
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Donald L. Hilton Jr., MD, a practicing neurosurgeon and a clinical associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas, observes:

"Pornography is a visual pheromone, a powerful 100 billion dollar-per-year brain drug that is changing sexuality even more rapidly through the cyber-acceleration of the Internet. It is “inhibiting orientation” and “disrupting pre-mating communication between the sexes by permeating the atmosphere.”

Think of the brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hikers who walk along the same path over and over again, day after day. The exposure to pornographic images creates similar neural pathways that, over time, become more and more “well-paved” as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. Those neurological pathways eventually become the trail in the brain’s forest by which sexual interactions are routed.
Thus, a pornography user has “unknowingly created a neurological circuit” that makes his or her default perspective toward sexual matters ruled by the norms and expectations of pornography."

Dr. Hilton argues that sexual images are “unique among natural rewards” because sexual rewards, unlike food or other natural rewards, cause “persistent change in synaptic plasticity.” In other words, internet pornography does more than just spike the level of dopamine in the brain for a pleasure sensation. It literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:24 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2013

What happened to Barnaby Jack?

Was this computer nerd killed after discovering how to murder anyone with a pacemaker?

When the acclaimed television drama  series Homeland climaxed with a devious plot by terrorists to kill America’s vice-president by hacking into his electronic pacemaker, critics scoffed at the ludicrousness of the idea.

But the outrageous storyline was thought credible by many in the world of computer security.  Among those was the New Zealand-born computer hacker Barnaby Jack.  The 35-year-old — who, unlike many in the business, used his skills ‘ethically’ — had spent his career demonstrating the dangers posed by unscrupulous hackers combined with computer manufacturers’ failure to install proper safety devices on equipment.
 Barnaby Jack
Jack thought it highly plausible that a terrorist could hack into someone’s pacemaker and speed up their heartbeat until it killed them.  He also believed it was possible to infect the pacemaker companies’ servers with a bug that would spread through their systems like a virus.

‘We are potentially looking at a “worm” with the ability to commit mass murder,’ he said. ‘It’s kind of scary.’ Jack certainly knew what he was talking about — having become famous after demonstrating how he could sabotage cash machines and make them dispense large sums of money (a trick he called ‘Jackpotting’) by hacking into a bank’s computer system.

Another stunt was to reveal how a diabetic’s insulin pump — which is designed to deliver insulin to the body day and night — could be hacked from 300ft away, so it could dispense a fatal dose.

Jack, who had been obsessed with computers since childhood, emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 21 and joined a firm specializing in computer security issues.
In recent years, he had developed a specific interest in what is known as ‘embedded’ technology, the hardware and software built into everyday objects such as cars, banking systems, home appliances and medical devices. Jack thought it plausible that someone could hack into a pacemaker and speed up their heartbeat until it killed them

He was preparing to demonstrate his work two days ago at a major computer-hacking convention in Las Vegas.

In an address to the Black Hat convention titled ‘Implantable medical devices: hacking humans’, Jack was due to show an audience of hackers and cyber security experts at Caesar’s Palace how he could hack into devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.
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However, he was never to give the demonstration. A week beforehand, Jack was found dead in his flat in the San Francisco neighborhood of Nob Hill. His body was believed to have been found by his girlfriend, Layne Cross, a 31-year-old model. According to friends, he was found dead in bed.

To say his sudden death  remains shrouded in mystery is putting it mildly.

Predictably, for someone who worked in such a shadowy world, there have been countless theories about how he was killed. Hackers are a suspicious bunch who have become even more paranoid since the U.S government’s efforts to silence whistleblowers such as ex-soldier Bradley Manning (who faces jail for leaking secret government cables to WikiLeaks).  The absence of even the most basic details about Barnaby Jack’s untimely death has ignited a firestorm of speculation that foul play could be involved.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

July 30, 2013

The 'Intelligence-industrial complex' is spying on you and the prescient words of Sen Frank Church in 1975

CNET Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords  Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form.

 Digital-Big-Brother-Is-Watching

National Journal How America's Top Tech Companies Created the Surveillance State  They’ve been helping the government spy on people for a very long time. The cozy relationships go back decades.

Books have been written about President Eisenhower’s famous farewell warning in 1961 about the “military-industrial complex,” and what he described as its “unwarranted influence.” But an even greater leviathan today, one that the public knows little about, is the “intelligence-industrial complex.”
The saga of the private sector’s involvement in the NSA’s scheme for permanent mass surveillance is long, complex, and sometimes contentious. Often, in ways that appeared to apply indirect pressure on industry, the NSA has demanded, and received, approval authority—veto power, basically—over telecom mergers and the lifting of export controls on software. The tech industry, in more than a decade of working-group meetings, has hashed out an understanding with the intelligence community over greater NSA access to their systems, including the nation’s major servers.

Angelo M. Codevilla, The Domestic Roots of International Contempt

The U.S. government did not have to spend billions to record metadata on every American’s phone calls and to access the rest of our electronic communications. It chose to do this because it had decided to deal with the threat of terrorism primarily by policing Americans rather than by forcing the Muslim world’s despots (that world is run exclusively by despots) to suppress anti-American incitement and activities rather than fostering them.

Moreover, the U.S. government crafted its “Homeland Security” on the basis of the counterfactual assumption that every American is as likely as any other American to be or not to be a terrorist – that to decide that any set of persons deserves any more scrutiny than any other, i.e. to “profile,” is impermissible. Hence, because “Homeland Security” is willfully agnostic not to say congenitally dumb, it must spy on everybody. The NSA’s universal elimination of the privacy of Americans’ communications is neither more nor less than the electronic version of the universal virtual undressing and palpating of passengers at airports.

NYReview of Books  They Know Much More Than You Think
The documents released by Edward Snowden show that the NSA does have a large-scale program to gather the telephone records of every Verizon customer, including local calls, and presumably a similar agreement with AT&T and other companies. These are records of who called whom and when, not of the content of the conversations, although the NSA has, by other methods, access to the content of conversations as well. But the NSA has, on a daily basis, access to virtually everyone’s phone records, whether cell or landline, and can store, data-mine, and keep them indefinitely. Snowden’s documents describing the PRISM program show that the agency is also accessing the Internet data of the nine major Internet companies in the US, including Google and Yahoo.
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According to a slide released by Snowden, the cable-tapping operation is codenamed “UPSTREAM” and it is described as the “collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past.” It also appears to be both far more secret and far more invasive than the PRISM program revealed by Snowden….Through UPSTREAM, however, the agency does get direct access to fiber-optic cables and the supporting infrastructure that carries nearly all the Internet and telephone traffic in the country.
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In the end, both UPSTREAM and PRISM may be only the tips of a much larger system. Another new document released by Snowden says that on New Year’s Eve, 2012, SHELLTRUMPET, a metadata program targeting international communications, had just “processed its One Trillionth metadata record.” Started five years ago, it noted that half of that trillion was added in 2012. It also noted that two more new programs, MOONLIGHTPATH and SPINNERET, “are planned to be added by September 2013.”
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One man who was prescient enough to see what was coming was Senator Frank Church, the first outsider to peer into the dark recesses of the NSA. In 1975, when the NSA posed merely a fraction of the threat to privacy it poses today with UPSTREAM, PRISM, and thousands of other collection and data-mining programs, Church issued a stark warning:

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…. I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 PM | Permalink

July 3, 2013

Growing trend of baby-hating

At special session of the Texas state legislature. Pro-abortion protestors chant 'Hail, Satan' to drown out pro-life protestors singing Amazing Grace. 

The Anchoress comments

“Amazing Grace” is a psycho-spiritual weapon. When it is deployed, people cannot be shocked at what weapons others will use in response.

The Anchoress writes, "Simcha Fisher speaks truth" ( in The Earth is a Nursery )    "Only Bad Guys Hate Babies"  Succinct.  To the point. 

increasingly people feel entitled to publicly demonstrate their hatreds, not just for people who think differently (“enemies of the human race!”), or on political issues (“I hope your daughter gets raped!”); they feel okay about hating little kids.

Active baby-hating is not a sign of a healthy society.

And in another post, on the growing trend of adults expressing displeasure at the public  existence of children and their parents

— as one contributor to the New York Times Magazine put it — “These wan goons. . .bringing their squealing offspring to brunch or for clogging up the sidewalk…”

[The New York Times Magazine] featured this letter to the editor, written by “Carolyn” in Maryland:

Five years ago I faced an unwanted pregnancy. At the time, I had a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, and I was working full time as a college professor and living an upper-middle-class life. When I found out I was pregnant at eight weeks, I consulted with my husband (who supported either decision) and we scheduled an abortion the following week. I was overwhelmed at the thought of caring for another child. Had I been turned away, I’m sure that I would be able to report that I loved that third child, that our family was doing well and that there were no notable negative impacts or issues as a result of bearing and raising the child from an unwanted pregnancy. I can, however, say the same thing now, having not had that child.

The blood runs cold. Break it down to its essentials, and it’s “Yeah, I could have had the kid and we’d have still been fine, but what’s the difference? This way I wasn’t inconvenienced.”

Or, put another way: “I just sacrificed my child to the idol of I. The idol of myself. I can’t even claim he was sacrificed for the idol of future plans, or that she was sacrificed to the idol of a career. No, I just sacrificed my child to me. To the idea of me: Ms. Personal Autonomy. I am like a god! I decide who lives and dies; didn’t feel like having another baby, so I killed it. Because I could. My other two kids only breathe and live by my grace, alone.”
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It is precisely because a baby brings the unconditional love of God to us in a renewed way that evil cannot abide it, and works so desperately to prevent it.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2013

"A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil."

In When Your W-2 Meets an AR-15  Mark Steyn first quotes Politico

As chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, [Jeff] Duncan (R-S.C.) toured a federal law enforcement facility in late May and noticed agents training with the semi-automatic weapons at a firing range. They identified themselves as IRS, he said.

“When I left there, it’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability,” Duncan told POLITICO. “Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability..?

Then Steyn writes

A bureaucracy is bad. A politicized bureaucracy is worse. A paramilitary politicized bureaucracy is nuts. And, in fact, evil.

There is no reason in a civilized society why the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Paperwork should have his own SEAL Team Six.
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As I wrote in the magazine last year:

By the way, I use the word “agents” rather than “officials” because, in the developed world, the paramilitarized bureaucracy is uniquely American. This is the only G7 government whose education minister has his own SWAT team — for policing student-loan compliance. The other day, the Gibson guitar company settled with the feds over an arcane infraction of a law on rare-wood importation — after their factories were twice raided by “agents” bearing automatic weapons. Like the man said, don’t bring a knife to a guitar fight. Do musical-instrument manufacturers have a particular reputation for violence?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2013

Scandalpalooza

There are so many scandals in Washington now coming to light, it's a scandalpalooza.  Beyond the scandals we know of, Benghazi, IRS, the DOJ and NSA, other scandals are erupting.    The common thread to all is abuse of power and the chilling of opposition to the party line by the bullying of the government.

There would probably be more if the Inspector Generals were appointed for State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and the Agency for International Development but the President has failed to appoint them.   Obama's Inspector General Negligence

All told, an IG has been missing in action at each of those cabinet departments and the AID agency for between 18 months and five years.

In the State Department

CBS:  U.S. State Department Cover-Ups Range from Prostitution Charges to Drug Rings
including allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” with foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”
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investigators were told to stop probing the case of a U.S. ambassador who was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park. The memo states that the ambassador was permitted to return to his post despite having, “routinely ditched…his protective security detail” in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

 Howard-Gutman-Belgium-Ambassador Howard Gutman, Ambassador to Belgium, identified as the U.S. diplomat accused of "soliciting sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children" denies the charges.

After being called back to Washington, he met with Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, but kept his job.    Gutman raised $500k for Obama and helped finance the inaugural.

DSS agents told the Inspector General's investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is "very" upsetting.

"We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing," she said.

At the EPA.  Four separate scandals going on at the EPA  including making conservatives pay a fortune for FOIAs to be granted while waiving fees for liberal groups  and leaking confidential information on farmers and cattle facilities to environmental groups

At the FHA.  Yet Another Obama Cover-Up: FHA Bailout Fear

Subprime: For years, the administration has denied FHA troubles. But emails reveal it not only knew of them, but also withheld evidence of projected insolvency from Congress.
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The agency is letting lower-income borrowers get loans just three years after foreclosure with as little as 3% down and subprime-low credit scores. In fact, 40% of newer FHA-backed loans are subprime.

The risky lending has led to higher delinquencies. Now at 17%, delinquencies on FHA loans are so high the administration has extended the grace period for repayments on troubled loans to a full year.

Last year, the FHA secretly conducted a Fed-style stress test that found agency losses could hit $115 billion. Because the results were politically embarrassing, FHA chose to not disclose them.

At the GSA  According to the IG, Feds in the GSA Threw Contracts to Crony Companies

The stunning report shows that GSA managers routinely overruled contracting officers on certain accounts, including Carahsoft and two large IT contracts with Deloitte and Oracle. The contracts amounted to $900 million in 2011 alone. The IG found, according to the Federal Times, that “After GSA managers intervened in contracting officer decisions, the result was higher-than-appropriate prices for federal customers and a demoralized acquisition staff for GSA.”

At  HHS.  At least 436 Department of Health and Human Services employees Had Insider Tip of $8 Billion Medicare Decision that set private health insurers' stock soaring.  The Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have launched a probe to investigate possible insider trading.

In the Army  Soldier Who Read Conservative Books Now Faces Charges

A member of the U.S. Army Band who said he was reprimanded for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party and reading books written by conservative authors like Sean Hannity is now facing Article 15 charges – which cropped up shortly after he went public with his complaints. 

Last summer he was reprimanded for reading David Limbaugh and Mark Levin  privately and silently backstage at a U.S. Army Band concert.  A superior officer told him he was causing "unit disruption" and offending other soldiers

At the Energy Dept.  Nepotism ‘open and widely accepted’ at Energy Department.    Despite the fact that Federal law prohibits  public officials from appointing, employing or even advocating for their children or relatives to work within their agencies

At NSA  Pat Cadell on the sordid revelations .  The Fuse Has Been Lit:  Seven Critical Points on Uncle Sam's Spying Program

If the IRS was so willing to share confidential information with favored private groups, we shouldn’t be surprised, in the end, to learn that NSA/PRISM material ended up in the hands of Obama friends and allies outside of the government.
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These communications companies put peepholes into all of our private lives, through which Uncle Sam could sneak a peek.  Every e-mail, every phone call, every text-message--the government knows about them all.  It’s now evident that all these wonderful digital services--many of them, such as Google’s Gmail, given away for free--were, in fact, a kind of Trojan Horse.

More at the IRSHouse panel to probe alleged seizure of medical records by IRS

A top House committee launched another probe of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tuesday after a lawsuit alleged that the agency improperly seized millions of personal medical records in California.

The IRS seized 60 million records of 10 million people  without a search warrant or subpoena

Why the IRS is not answering questions about who did what.  Wow: IRS Claims Law Protecting the Privacy of Taxpayer Information Also Protects the Privacy of Those Who Violate Taxpayer Privacy

When everything is a crime, government date mining matters  especially in a flourishing culture of intimidation directed at the Tea Party, traditional marriage supporters, conservatives and other opponents of Obama and his agenda

Losing America by Peter Kirsanow

The “fundamental transformation” of America proceeds apace. The erosion of our freedoms and traditions, once incremental and barely perceptible, accelerates daily.

Armies of bureaucrats commanded by political ideologues remarkable mainly for their galactic incompetence intrude on ever more aspects of our lives — aspects both large and small. They tell us what light bulbs we’re allowed to use and how much water we may flush. They stick swabs in our mouths to collect our DNA and order us to buy health insurance we don’t want. They can seize our land if they think they know how to use it better, or stop us from using our land because a favored amphibian might live there too.
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Trust us, they say, it’s for your own good; a sovereign imperative, essential for national security. This from a government that freely lets millions cross our borders illegally without bothering to find out even the slightest detail about them.

Roger Kimball  writes

the transformation of us citizens — formerly the employers of all those “public servants” (it sounds funny now, doesn’t it: “public servants” forsooth!) swanning about in Washington on our money — the transformation, I say, of us citizens into serfs, i.e., slaves working for a feudal master.

Via American Digest is  finem respice

If you live in the United States it may finally be dawning on you that you have something of a problem in the government to which you are now a Subject….In fact, given the manner you have quashed the opportunity- almost unique in the history of the species- created by an impossibly rare coexistence of liberty, private property, free markets, the rise of scientific method, and freedom of expression (to name just a few) there is more than a passing argument to be made that your society has squandered one of the greatest intellectual and individualistic fortunes in history.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

May 16, 2013

The IVF industry - "human manufacturing on an industrial scale"

IVF may have brought joy – but it’s also brought misery and ended lives

With Sir Robert Edwards’s death we should still remember that ‘playing God’ brings problems

'I wish IVF had never been invented' It's brought joy to so many. But, as the scientist behind IVF dies, SAMANTHA BRICK says it's given her nothing but heartache…

For every woman lucky enough to fulfil her dream of motherhood, there are many more disillusioned women like me who remain childless.
Lives have been destroyed as well as created. Frequently, marriages do not survive the turmoil unleashed by IVF. There are also those who, years after their IVF has failed, are still paying off the cost of their extortionately-priced treatment.
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Let’s not forget that it is an industry — one which in the UK alone is worth at least £500 million, with 59.7 per cent of IVF cycles paid for privately in 2011. Today, it is a business first and foremost — and one which has depressingly low success rates.
At best, IVF offers a one-in-four chance of having a baby — a rate which rapidly diminishes with a woman’s age.
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Yet I also believe that there are some things we simply shouldn’t meddle with — and artificially creating life is one of them.

The Human Egg Rush

Thanks to tremendous advances in biotechnological prowess, living human bodies—or rather their constituent parts and biological functions—are increasingly being looked upon as valuable commercial commodities. Human eggs (oocytes) are a prime example. Ounce for ounce, ova are surely the most valuable product in the world, with some young women receiving $50,000 and up for twenty or thirty microscopic eggs for use in eugenic in vitro fertilization (IVF). There is a catch: Sellers have to risk their health, fecundity, and lives to earn their paycheck.
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one out of one hundred women experiences ovarian swelling that can enlarge her ovaries to the size of a grapefruit, a condition that often causes the belly to fill with fluid, requiring hospitalization. Some women even suffer ovarian rupture. Other potential health hazards include infection, pulmonary and vascular complications (including life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome), blood clots, and future cancers. In rare cases, hyper-ovulation results in death.
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The growing demand for eggs also opens up the possibility of abortion becoming a remunerative activity. In order to increase the egg supply, Dutch and Israeli scientists are experimenting with ovaries taken from later-term aborted female fetuses. The ovaries are kept alive after the abortion and the fetus’s immature eggs extracted. If the eggs can ever be matured, the scientists theorize, they could be used in infertility treatments and biotechnological experiments.

The Huffington Post’s resident bioethicist, Jacob Appel, has already argued that women who want to abort should be paid to gestate longer in their term before undergoing termination. “If a woman has the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy,” he asks, “why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit? Many women would likely use the proceeds of such sales to finance college educations or to help raise their children.”

Bad Catholic asks Why the Church Would be so Ridiculous as to Oppose IVF

The child is not owned by his mother, father, community, or state. He is a unique human subject, a universe unto himself, an unfathomable subjectivity — a being who finds himself free, existing for his own sake.  In the glare of this freedom, it occurs to me that I cannot own a child any more than I can own an adult. I can only care for him, and care is an action of love.

The child is cared for by the duty, responsibility and desire of love, because love is the only category in which one human being can say to another “you are mine” without meaning “I own you.” Love is the only category under which the child can blossom, because under its star he is taken care of, with a care that does not infringe upon the fact that he is a human person who ultimately belongs to himself
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Outside of love, there is only economy.
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In the practice of IVF, and the act of procreation amounts to a process of 12,000 dollars, egg-harvesting, masturbation, and the subsequent laboratory work of trained specialists (with some obvious differences depending on the procedure). The creation of children is performed by the cost-counting fingers of economy, not by an act of mutual self-gift.

The evils and difficulties that result from IVF are not the reason IVF is wrong, they are the natural result of separating life from the act of love, indicators of something rotten at the core of this scientific procedure that holds high the banner of compassion. The manipulation and abuse of women who donate ovums, the “disposal” of unique human lives, the inability of the reproductive technology industry to keep the multiple-conception rate at normal levels and the subsequent abortions that compensate for this inability — these are problems of economy. The commodities trafficked are life and death.
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The Church is simply saying the method of creation is sin against love and that subsequent repentance and love must overcome this origin
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The Church is not saying that couples suffering with infertility should not seek to overcome their infertility.
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The success of natural methods of treating infertility has been shown to rival IVF, and they do so without the abortions, elevated risk of birth defects, price, and all the rest. Two recent studies have shown that the live birth rate of women treated with Natural Reproductive Technology is entirely comparable to the live birth rate of women treated with IVF, though larger cohort studies are required. For women diagnosed with “subfertility” or “unexplained fertility” there’s actually no conclusive evidence that IVF is more helpful than any other treatment. In fact, a 2012 study published in Infertility suggests that couples diagnosed with subfertility have as good chances of conceiving in three years of just having sex than in having an IVF procedure.  The Church, by sticking to the principle of love, has created a demand for medicine without the taint of economy, death and manipulation, and thanks the heroic, rebellious doctors and scientists who meet that demand, the entire culture has been elevated: The natural, healthy, ethical treatment of infertility is now a reality.

The Church Is Not Backward, But Forward

As I began my career and worked in cutting-edge biotech laboratories, there was always a nagging question: How can my Church, so rooted in the past, have something relevant to say about modern technologies like stem-cell research, cloning and genetic engineering that are coming in the future?

Then I began researching these technologies and discovered something that changed the way I viewed my Church and my faith. Elbow deep in the latest biotechnology news, I discovered that the Church was far from backward, out of touch and irrelevant.  It is the most forward-thinking institution I have ever encountered — and more relevant today than ever.
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The Church warned us that severing the natural ties between sex and procreation would turn our own offspring into objects instead of the God-given gifts that they are. The Church told us that IVF was an ethical nightmare. If only we as a society had listened.

Back in the 1970s, no one could imagine that IVF would become human manufacturing on an industrial scale, complete with tracking and "quality control." The enormity of human lives created and lost is staggering. Numbers recently released by the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has been keeping records on IVF since 1991, are horrifying.

Of the 3 million-plus embryos created in the U.K. with IVF, more than half — about 1.7 million — have been discarded. The numbers are likely similar elsewhere, meaning that IVF has become a manufacturing process with little regard for the massive loss of human life involved.
HFEA numbers also reveal that, for every live birth through IVF, as many as 30 embryos are created.

With estimates now that as many as 5 million IVF children worldwide have been born, it may mean that as many as 150 million lives have been created by IVF. Many of those have been lost, discarded or destroyed by research. Some of those 150 million human lives are still on ice waiting for a chance to finish their lives. Many will die waiting.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2013

The Return of Eugenics

"In vitro eugenics" straight from Brave New World.  Creative Minority Report

After reading "In vitro eugenics" by Dr. Robert Sparrow in the Journal of Medical Ethics, I have to agree. Dr. Sparrow explores the possibility of creating embryos in the lab, then using the stem cells from those embryos to create egg and sperm cells, and then using those gametes to create more embryos. Essentially, this would take human reproduction into the laboratory not just for one generation, but for generation after generation. These embryos would be "orphaned at conception." They "would have no genetic parents: there would be no living individual—or indeed individual that had ever lived—who could be described as the genetic progenitor of such embryos." Sparrow calls this "in vitro eugenics":

The Return of Eugenics - Crisis magazine

Events have since made the word eugenics distasteful, but not the notion. The idea of human perfection via managed procreation is back and stronger than ever, at least in the academy. Now instead of forcible sterilization, the call is for fetal genetic testing and selective abortion. Race is no longer the marker of unfitness; having incorrect thoughts or unwelcome moral attitudes and genetic unworthiness are.

Early eugenicists embraced contraception. In 1921 Margaret Sanger argued birth control was “not merely of eugenic value, but is practically identical in ideal, with the final aims of Eugenics.”
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David DeGrazia, tenured at George Washington University, who in the Journal of Medical Ethics recently advocated creating a master race via programmatic “moral bioenhancement.” ….

He disfavors letting emerge from the womb those whose DNA codes for “moral cynicism” (he cites tax cheats), those not wanting to contribute “one’s fair share,” those with “defective empathy,” those who suffer “a failure of insight or motivation,” including those not wanting to donate more than 1% of the USA’s GDP to foreign governments (yes, truly). Who decides on the list of desirable and therefore allowable traits? Well, people like DeGrazia, though he concedes “it might make sense to permit parents to adopt more debatable visions of morality—among reasonable alternatives.”
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As is plain, the leading new-eugenics organ is the Journal of Medical Ethics, edited by Julian Savulescu (tenured, St Cross College, Oxford), self-appointed champion of genetic tinkering. … He claims, “We now know that most psychological characteristics are significantly determined by certain genes,” like, the “COMT gene” which selects for altruism (new-eugenicists really go for altruism). If you want your child “to be faithful and enjoy stable relationships” then abort him if he has “a variant of AVPR1.” Kill him, too, if he’s saddled with “a certain type of the MA0A gene” which is “linked to higher levels of violence in children who often suffer abuse or deprivation.”
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New-eugenicists aren’t claiming definitiveness, however. They know that gene-behavior connections are correlational and that behavior is difficult to unambiguously define. They know they’re using the “loaded-dice” argument such that aborting those with or without approved genes only increases the chances of desired behaviors, but doesn’t guarantee them. They know the correlations are weak, but they claim they’re good enough.

Scientists Want to Scavenge Aborted Fetal Eggs

By the way, it isn’t IVF for which the eggs will be required, but human cloning. Somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning requires a human egg for each try and eggs are in short supply. Indeed, I have frequently noted that the technology has been held back by what I call the “egg dearth.” 
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But if they can get unlimited eggs from dead fetuses and women, cloning will not only be successfully performed (which, I predicted, will happen this year) but eventually perfected and put to concerted use. Then, it is on to all the Brave New World technologies–such as genetic engineering–that require cloning to develop.

Killing the fetuses and keeping their ovaries alive. That makes the scientists complicit in the abortions. Think about what we are becoming.

Eugenics Threat Growing in IVF Industry

Dr. Robert Sparrow, of Monash University in Australia, who wrote last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics that the time has come to open a debate on “in vitro eugenics”
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Dr. Sparrow, who is broadly in favour of the idea, suggested that artificial gametes could be used to speed up the rate at which human generations turn over, producing two or three generations of improved human beings, free of “unsatisfactory genes,” in a single year.

“In effect,” he writes, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”

Such a breeding program, he said, “would give future eugenicists a power undreamed of by governments and would-be genetic reformers of the past.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

The French have it right when it comes to gay marriage

In this politically charged issue, a disclaimer is necessary.  I have no animus against homosexuals and i've supported civil unions, but I've drawn the line against marriage because I am so concerned with the well-being of children and so opposed to any commodification of human beings.

Adults may have great desire to have children, but they have no "right" to  children.  If a couple can not procreate, they can not buy children or demand the state children provide them children.  They are allowed to adopt children but only if they satisfy the state's requirements of adoption which are concerned with the welfare of the individual child and the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents. 

On the other hand, children have the right to have two parents, male and female.  It is the way nature works.

But we are already deep down the path of turning children into commodities to be bought and sold  There is little or no regulation about sperm donation, about IVF, about surrogacy and already the consequences are very troublesome for the the children involved.  Do we want even more children with gaping holes in their lives whose Daddy's name is Donor?

I'm  French when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. 

Robert Oscar Lopez is right when he says the French are ahead of us in exposing the great lie of gay marriage.

Gay marriage is posing as liberation for homosexuals but really hiding the nefarious goal of commercializing procreation, turning children into commodities.  Designer children will be a huge business in the future, but without "gay equality" as a smokescreen to distract people from the ugliness of what such a commerce entails, the market would come under massive criticism.

Gay marriage eradicates the role of mother and father and institutionalizes a form of child-rearing that works by contract and purchase, which the government naturally controls and oversees in collaboration with massive corporations.

It was the French man on the street who figured out the big lie -- that this movement for gay marriage is really all about big money, about men like Elton John and Pierre Berge buying children and disposing of women (Berge said that renting a womb to make a baby is like renting a worker's arms in a factory to make a product); that this movement for gay marriage is being pushed not by gay advocates, but by well-funded usurpers of gay rhetoric.
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Ironically, the left, supposedly against McCarthyism, enjoys the total suppression of dissent at universities and in the press on this issue.  Ironically, the left, ostensibly the party of civil rights, is eagerly leading a lemming charge backward into the sale and purchase of human beings,

Child’s Question: ‘Which Parent Do I Not Need: Mom or Dad?’ Stumps Legislature

Minnesota state legislators considering a same-sex marriage bill for the state did not have an answer to an 11-year-old girl’s question on which parent is not needed.

“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad. I believe God made it that way,” Grace Evans, 11, said before the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law last week. “I know some disagree, but I want to ask you this question: Which parent do I not need – my mom or my dad?”

Gay marriage is a social experiment that will cause serious harm to children

It is either right to maintain the ideal man-woman definition of marriage – our most important social institution — or it is not. We must not base our decision on compassion for gays (or misunderstood sense of fairness), whether the gay person is our child, a sibling, friend or anyone else.
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Same-sex couples in New Jersey already receive equal benefits under civil-union law, and these unions deserve distinction for good reason. A new gold-standard, peer-reviewed, family structures study released in June 2012 by sociology professor Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas indicates that the social experiment of homosexual “marriage” will cause serious harm to children. The study found that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are significantly more likely than those raised in a two-parent heterosexual home to: have social and mental health problems requiring therapy, identify themselves as homosexual, choose cohabitation, be unfaithful to partners, contract sexually transmitted diseases, be sexually molested or raped by a parent or adult, have lower income levels, drink to get drunk, and smoke tobacco and marijuana.
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Consider that the social mistakes we as a society have already made, and are headed toward now, will weigh most heavily on the shoulders of children. They are the innocent victims of social experimentation and have become morally and even physically broken in the name of so-called “freedom, equality and progress.”
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This month, Doug Mainwaring, a gay man, wrote an insightful article for thepublicdiscourse.com, sharing that intellectual honesty and experience as a gay person raising children can lead to opposing same-sex marriage. “There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week,” he said. “Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold … someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch ‘deprivation’ on their hearts.”

No Pasaran!, Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: Are There Any Valid Reasons to Be Against Gay Nuptials?

In his book Nation of Bastards, Farrow criticized  warned that by claiming the power to re-invent marriage, the Canadian state “has drawn marriage and the family into a captive orbit. It has reversed the gravitational field between the family and the state… It has effectively made every man, woman, and child a chattel of the state, by turning their most fundamental human connections into mere legal constructs at the state’s disposal. It has transformed those connections from divine gifts into gifts from the state.”
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By fundamentally redefining marriage, [Douglas Farrow] says, the state has appropriated the institution of marriage and turned children, indeed all citizens, into wards of the state. Marriage and family have always existed in relative autonomy vis a vis the state, resting as they do on the nature of human beings and the natural human family.  In a liberal society, marriage and family mediate between individual and state. As such they are indispensable to liberal democracy.
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They may or may not be recognized and protected by the state, but marriage and family in any case are not created by it. They are, by their nature and not the state's fiat, the way in which one generation turns from its own concerns to those of the next, requiring a sacrifice and commitment of the autonomous ego to a relationship ordered to procreation, fidelity, and a covenantal relationship involving man, woman, and any children that result from their union.
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It is true that totalitarian states invariably seek to undermine and subordinate the family and all of civil society, dismantling them and slowly grinding them up, in Nietzsche's expression, "into a random collection of individuals, haphazardly bound together in the common pursuit of selfish ends."

That sounds right for Nazi Germany or Communist Eastern Europe, where all civil society, everything that stands between individual and state, is weakened and destroyed.

But Canada? It sounds far-fetched, but if Farrow is right, we can expect to see, as in Europe today, the increasing control of the state over children's education and socialization (home-schooling was outlawed in Hitler's Germany and just recently parents have been arrested for defying the law). Parents cannot be trusted not to raise their children in their own faith, whose values may contradict those of the state; parents will have fewer and fewer rights to exempt their children from the state's version of sex education and instruction in the moral acceptability of fornication. Professionals, denied protections of conscience, will be fired, not for "imposing their moral views on their clients," but for failing to impose the state's.

The Well-Being of Children

A study by Elizabeth Marquardt and associates entitled “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,”……According to Marquardt, “Donor conceived children know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally denied them a relationship with at least one of their biological parents. The pain they might feel was caused not by some distant birth parent who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them every day.”

The purpose of adoption is “to find parents for children who need them. Donor conception functions as a market, the purpose of which is to create children for adults who want them.”
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Calling same-sex relationships marriages harms children. It says to them your need for your own biological father and mother doesn’t matter
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:15 PM | Permalink

March 11, 2013

"Merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life." ?

Man sues sperm bank and ex-girlfriend after she 'bluffed her way into getting two vials of his semen and used it get pregnant as punishment for dumping her'

A Louisiana man is suing his ex-girlfriend for allegedly stealing his sperm from a Texas facility and using it to get pregnant with their son without his knowledge years after the two had broken up.

According to Layne Hardin's attorney, his client's former paramour, 27-year-old Tobie Devall, of Sulphur, Louisiana, somehow 'bluffed' her way into obtaining two vials containing the 44-year-old’s sperm wrapped in a brown paper bag.

The lawsuit, which names Devall, the sperm bank and a fertility clinic in Houston, states that the woman then inseminated herself and later gave birth to a boy, who is now two years old.

Israeli sperm donor wants his stuff back

A fascinating case is unfolding in Israel pitting a anonymous sperm donor against a woman who demands his sperm.
As reported in Haaretz, Galit (not her real name), a 39-year-old single mother living in Florida, has conceived a daughter with the sperm of an Israeli donor. She purchased five more samples and stored them in a sperm bank. However, when she decided to conceive another child, she was told that the man had withdrawn his consent. After a religious conversion he felt remorseful about allowing his sperm to be used by a woman he did not know to conceive a child he did not love.

So-called 'Ethicists' in Australia Call for “After-Birth Abortions”

Giubilini and Minerva say that merely being a human being is not enough to warrant a respect for a person’s right to life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 PM | Permalink

February 27, 2013

"No one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind."

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished

In the name of tolerance, tolerance is being abolished; this is a real threat we face. The danger is that reason – so-called Western reason – claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom. I believe that we must very emphatically delineate this danger. No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the ‘new religion’ as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.”
Pope Benedict XVI

In Massachusetts, the Department of Education has issued a directive on the handling of 'transgendered' students and Students Who Refuse to Affirm Transgender Classmates Face Punishment.

Last week the Massachusetts Department of Education issued directives for handling transgender students – including allowing them to use the bathrooms of their choice or to play on sports teams that correspond to the gender with which they identify.

The 11-page directive also urged schools to eliminate gender-based clothing and gender-based activities – like having boys and girls line up separately to leave the classroom.
Schools will now be required to accept a student’s gender identity on face value.
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The new rules would also prevent teachers and administrators from telling parents with which gender their child identifies.
“School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent or guardian,” the directive states.
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The Massachusetts Family Institute denounced the new rules calling them a violation of privacy.

“Fundamentally, boys need to be using the boys’ room and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” said Andrew Beckwith, the institute’s general counsel.

Beckwith told Fox News the new policy has a “very broad standard that is ripe for abuse.”
The policy allows students to have one gender identity at home and another at school,” he said. “And it refuses to let teachers and administrators tell parents what gender their child is at school.”

Another part of the directive that troubles parents deals with students who might feel comfortable having someone of the opposite sex in their locker room or bathroom.
The state takes those students to task – noting their discomfort “is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

And any student who refuses to refer to a transgendered student by the name or sex they identify with could face punishment.

For example – a fifth grade girl might feel uncomfortable using the restroom if there is an eighth grade transgendered boy in the next stall.
Under the state guidelines, the girl would have no recourse, Beckwith said.  “And if the girl continued to complain she could be subjected to discipline for not affirming that student’s gender identity choice,” he told Fox News.  “It should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline,” the directive states.

Gunner Scott, of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, praised the directive – and said punishing students who refuse to acknowledge a student’s gender identity is appropriate because it amounts to bullying.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2012

The Fabulous Tale of Squanto

A Patuxet Indian, friend of explorers, captured to be sold as a slave, freed by friars in Spain, convert to Catholicism, traveled to London, hired to work with the governor of Newfoundland, back to London and a return to his home in Plymouth to only to find his entire village annihilated by smallpox and then he met the Pilgrims.

Squanto, the Worldly Indian Who Dazzled the Pilgrims

 Squanto2
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2012

"The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality"

A quote worth pondering via Rod Dreher from political philosopher J. Budziszewski taken from his book on the natural law, "What We Can't Not Know".

We are passing through an eerie phase of history in which the things that everyone really knows are treated as unheard-of doctrines, a time in which the elements of common decency are themselves attacked as indecent. Nothing quite like this has ever happened before. Although our civilization has passed through quite a few troughs of immorality, never before has vice held the high moral ground. Our time considers it dirty-minded to treat sexual purity as a virtue; unfeeling to insist too firmly that the sick should not be encouraged to seek death; a sign of impious pride to profess humble faith in God. The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality. We call affirming it “being judgmental” and “being intolerant,” which is our way of saying it has been judged and will not be tolerated.

From the Booklist review at Amazon:

According to the natural law, a concept Christianity adopted and modified from Greek and Roman philosophy, knowledge of God's existence and of fundamental moral principles constitutes humanity's universal common sense. It isn't innate, however, but must be inculcated through traditional moral systems, such as the Tao, the dharma, and the Ten Commandments. Budziszewski invokes the last as best known to most of his potential readers and cites Judaic and Christian scripture, yet this is no religious tract but a philosophical exposition and a disputation on current moral attitudes and issues, especially abortion. Framing the entire presentation in terms of a lost world of moral consensus, Budziszewski says the natural law grounds a rational worldview that has been discredited by sin and guilt, and displaced by world views grounded in sensation  (he is particularly cogent on the varieties of modern atheistic or agnostic feelings). But the natural law weltanschauung could be reestablished, and Budziszewski concludes his superb "guide" with broad advice on how to do so
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2012

Commodifying human life: Designer babies, brood mothers, baby flesh pills and donor daddies

In 2010 an eminent Chicago IVF doctor left his practice of creating babies in Petri dishes.  This is his story, Change of Heart

Dr Anthony J. Caruso is a Chicago doctor who worked in the field of in vitro fertilization for 15 years before he quit in 2010. We interviewed him by email about the reasons for his change of heart.

In 2008 I was increasingly concerned about the kind of procedures we were doing. Initially it was the demands of same-sex couples. Then it was the way in which everybody looked at the embryos that had undergone pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Finally, it was the realization that the embryos that we were producing were just as important as the embryos that were transferred.
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People who are going through IVF largely refuse to seek emotional or psychological support. And people who have not gone through the process do not understand what it entails. Perhaps the most interesting response that I have gotten to the presentations I am giving is from those who did not know exactly what happened during this process. Once they learn, the spectrum goes from rationalization to horror.
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Every child is a gift from God. However, the process that brought them into existence has led to an attitude towards the embryo that is no different than any other commodity.

If you add pre-implantation diagnosis into the equation, then you really have a situation that is no different than an auto dealership or a department store. “I will take two of these and then freeze these and toss these.” The very people who are showing off their beautiful children will not answer questions about how many frozen embryos are still present or how many they asked to be destroyed.
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IVF does not cure infertility. It bypasses the barriers to natural fertility. As such, it is really a business. Just think about the number of clinics that offer cash-back programs. They guarantee that if the couple does not conceive within a certain number of cycles, they will get some or all of their money back. Where is the “medicine” in that?

Here is a story about a Designer baby factory where eggs from beautiful Eastern Europeans are joined with sperm of wealthy Westerners and embryos implanted in desperate women.

For under an astonishing — and many will think nightmarishly futuristic — program devised to make the most efficient use of resources, or ‘optimize’ their baby producing system, as they put it, Wyzax and their partner agencies now source and assemble the ‘components’ of some babies in a variety of different countries before flying the resulting embryo to India to be implanted in the surrogate.
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Once created, the embryos are frozen to minus 196c, placed in liquid nitrogen canisters resembling small milk-churns, then flown 8,000 miles from the U.S. to cities such as Delhi and Bombay, where they are implanted.
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the women who incubate and hatch these identikit children would be better compared to brood mares.  They are so desperate to feed, clothe and educate their own families that they are prepared to risk being shunned by their husbands and communities for a fee of up to £4,000; an amount they wouldn’t earn in ten years working in their traditional jobs as domestic servants. All they need do to reap this vast sum — or so these often illiterate souls are told when they make agreements often put together by shady fixers — is to lie around watching TV all day, eating nutritious food they would never ordinarily be able to afford, and be dosed with vitamins and hormones.
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the sale of cheap, designer babies, made from Ukrainian eggs and British sperm, concocted in an American lab, and spawned in a factory in the backstreets of India, should send chills down the spine.

Thousands of pills filled with powdered human baby flesh discovered by customs officials in South Korea

Thousands of pills filled with powdered human flesh have been discovered by customs officials in South Korea, it was revealed today.  The capsules are in demand because they are viewed as being a medicinal 'cure-all'.

The grim trade is being run from China where corrupt medical staff are said to be tipping off medical companies when babies are aborted or delivered still-born.

The tiny corpses are then bought, stored in household refrigerators in homes of those involved in the trade before they are removed and taken to clinics where they are placed in medical drying microwaves.  Once the skin is tinder dry, it is pummeled into powder and then processed into capsules along with herbs to disguise the true ingredients from health investigators and customs officers.

Never before heard of human tragedies are emerging and not just with children who grow up a hole in their lives because their  daddy was a donor.    Donor daddies can ruin their own marriages.    Sperm donor 'left me for babies

The heartbroken wife of a politician who secretly acted as a sperm donor behind her back says he has left her to be with babies conceived with other women.  Speaking from her home in the United States, Kathy Johnson says her husband Bill has returned to live in New Zealand where he donated sperm to at least 10 women without her knowledge.

"He wants me to move over there. He's not coming back.  I will not chase him to the other side of the world so he can be a part-time father to children he created with other women."

Mrs Johnson said she had fought for five months to save her marriage but could not break her husband's fixation on the babies he had biologically fathered.

"He's back there now. He says he has a commitment to them. He says he created these children and he has a responsibility to them," she says. "I said 'what about your commitment to your wife'. He walked out."

Mrs Johnson is a two-time Mrs America finalist with three children from a former marriage while Mr. Johnson was a candidate for the gubernatorial nomination three years ago in Alabama.

In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was considered science fiction when it came out.  Who would ever believe that natural procreation would be done away with babies created, decanted and raised in hatcheries and conditioning centers? 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2012

The modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."

Western Survival Depends on Western Pride writes David Rusin

Due to “post-modernism, moral relativism, and multiculturalism, the West has lost all self-confidence in its own values, and seems incapable and unwilling to defend those values,” argues Ibn Warraq, author of Why the West Is Best. “By contrast, resurgent Islam, in all its forms, is supremely confident, and is able to exploit the West’s moral weakness and cultural confusion to demand ever more concessions from her.”

Warraq declares that if their system is to endure, Westerners must acknowledge that “the great ideas of the West — rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy — are superior to any others devised by humankind.” Likewise, it is critical to compare Western ideals to those of the Islamists, which are antithetical to liberty and increasingly threaten it. A glance at how women and minorities are treated by strict Islamic law is sufficient to expose multiculturalism’s “lie that all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom and democracy,” to quote reformist Muslim Salim Mansur.

Astonishing isn't it, that people who point this out are often vilified and politicians who do so are raked over the coals for daring to declare the superiority of Western culture.

This decline in Western confidence was apparent 25 years ago when Alan Bloom first wrote, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students.    It was a book that drove them crazy

The crisis was​–is​–​a crisis of confidence in the principle that serves as the premise of liberal education: that reason, informed by learning and experience, can arrive at truth, and that one truth may be truer than another.
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He asked readers to consider contemporary students as he encountered them. They arrived ill-equipped to explore the large questions the humanities pose, and few saw the need to bother with them in any case. Instead, he said, they were cheerful, unconcerned, dutiful, and prosaic, their eyes on the prize of that cushy job. They were “nice.” You can almost see him shudder as he writes the word. “They are united only in their relativism,” he wrote. “The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate.”

Relativism, in fact, was the only moral postulate that went unchallenged in academic life.
---
a professor at Carleton College, Michael Zuckert, told of canvassing the students in his class on American political thought. He asked whether they agreed that the truths in the first lines of the Declaration of Independence were indeed “self-evident.” Seven percent voted “yes.” On further conversation, he wrote, it turned out “that they were convinced there is no such thing as ‘truth,’ self-evident or otherwise, in the sphere of claims of the sort raised in the Declaration.”

An admirer of the book writes

The goal of Bloom’s book was to show how Americans of all political persuasions, social backgrounds and economic conditions are debating within a narrow modern world-view and have simply accepted as fact a mushy blend of modern theory that repeatedly contradicts itself and stands in sharp contrast to an almost entirely forgotten world of opposing thought: that of the ancients.
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Where the purpose of higher education once was to enable the student to find truth, the modern university teaches that there is no truth, only "lifestyle."
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Bloom simply wanted to make students think, to make them understand that there are different ideas of what man is and that they must confront these ideas if they wish to lead a meaningful life.

Andrew Ferguson writes another appreciation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink

January 27, 2012

Questions my generation never had to ask

About that Egg Donation

A reader of the New York Times’ Ethicist column asks if she needs to inform her fiancé about her egg donation:

A difficult situation (especially if you have no one to turn to for advice other than the Times). I can’t help but think of what she must have been told at the time: post-operation and recovery the donation process should be worry-free. It’s just genetic material. You see the same cavalier attitude in the Times’ response above (though to his credit, the writer does go on to recommend that she tell her fiancé).

Now instead of approaching the altar with a light heart, she struggles with the realization that somewhere there likely are young boys and girls who have her genetic material—who are her children—and who someday may want nothing more than to find out who she is. Tough stuff.

For a variety of reasons, I suspect that sperm donors aren’t as conflicted as egg donors about their unknown offspring. They should be.

Remember Ben Seisler, the Boston attorney who donated sperm that has resulted in 70 children?  The Boston Globe tells the story in Who's your daddy?

Just how he broke it to his fiance became the subject of  a reality TV documentary. 

Seisler’s fiancée is clearly miffed about his situation, especially when he tells her on camera that the number is up to 70. She can barely bring herself to refer to them as “children.’’ (She prefers “offspring.’’)

“What if they all come knocking?’’ she asks Seisler, angrily. “I kind of deem it selfish. Did you think of the consequences that would come out of this?’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2012

"Four Britons are dying of dehydration and malnutrition in hospital each day"

Why a government-run health service is so problematic.

Cristina Odone in the Telegraph Visiting a patient in a British hospital? Then take them food and water, just to be safe

While GPs are preparing to go on strike, and consultants and nurses ratchet up their attacks on the Coalition's proposed reforms to the NHS, four Britons are dying of dehydration and malnutrition in hospital each day Few deaths can be as agonising as those caused by lack of liquids and nutrients, yet few deaths are as preventable.
--

Critics (and I'm often one) of NHS staff complain usually about their indifference, self-righteousness, and us-against-them mentality. Now there is another charge to add to that list: letting patients die of hunger and thirst. No wonder family members insist on staying by their loved ones' bedsides in the ward: they fear for their lives. The problem is some of the most vulnerable patients have no family visiting them: who then looks after their welfare? The sad answer is no one.

It's a shameful "first" for Britain: the NHS comes first in Europe when it comes to the percentage of hospital patients suffering malnutrition: a whopping 58%, compared to 24% in the Netherlands and just over 30% in Denmark. You have to go to Vietnam to find a similarly horrific number of malnourished hospital patients.

The stories told by the commenters would make you weep.

My father died recently in horrible circumstances at Southampton General. In a ward of 8 or 9 distressed old men it was like a scene from Bedlam. At night a West African nurse frightened the old boys by not displaying one iota of sympathy or care. The noise in the ward was unbelievable . Buzzers and alarms going of constantly for no apparent purpose. Nurses striding around skilfully avoiding eye contact like workers at B&Q.

My mother who had been married to my dad for 60 odd years was constantly harassed for being in the ward to look after him, trying to make him eat and trying to wet his parched mouth. When my sister and I finally found a nurse who would stop and talk to us she explained he was on the 'Liverpool Pathway' hardly a user friendly term of explanation. It certainly went over my mother's head.

I have many posts on the Liverpool pathway.

Perils of the Pathway

“My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS. ”

It really does seem that the Liverpool pathway has become a protocol to deal with all elderly patients and thus the reason to give minimum care and so hasten their deaths. 

For the life of me, I can not understand how doctors or hospitals, even under the guise of 'policy' or 'protocol', can deny  anyone who wants food and water no matter how old or sick. 

The "Death Pathway"

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients."

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.
--

He said: “I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this “death pathway” that is coming in.

“It is supposed to let people die with dignity but it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
--

He said that he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for “significant” amounts of time and warned that many doctors were not checking the progress of patients enough to notice improvement in their condition.

Death Panels

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2011

A Thousand Siblings

We are now reaping the consequences of an unregulated fertility industry.  I shudder when I write the word "industry" when it involves the creation of new human beings.  Yet that's precisely what it has become  - without any rules or regulations, unlike say, the sale of used cars.  There is no concern whatsoever that can see about the best interests of the child and that makes it both inhuman and immoral.   

Last month was the appalling story of the Boston attorney who confessed on camera to his fiancee that he had 70 biological children.  Now, Barry Stevens, a Canadian documentary filmmaker says he has ONE THOUSAND siblings through one donor who worked with sperm banks for three decades.

Among the concerns over sperm banks is the practice of trying to create a 'designer' baby by choosing a donor from a catalog, based on eye colour, physique or IQ level.

That practice has meant some of these donors, like Mr Stevens, have now left a huge legacy.
Fertility experts are now warning that the over-reliance on one donor increases the risk of the transmission of genetic diseases and malformations.

There are also concerns about the dangers of inadvertent incest between half-siblings.

Mr Stevens, who has made films about his search for his real father and his half-siblings, said: 'We can't exclude the possibility that children of one donor can meet and have sex, and children, and indeed the possibility that the donor himself could have sex with his daughter.'

Imagine being a child of a sperm donor and struggling with a  unique anxiety: What if I fall in love with my half sibling?

One child of a sperm donor speaks out.  Anonymous No More

In a 2010 report, “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor,” from the Institute for American Values, Elizabeth Marquardt, Norval Glenn and Karen Clark note that “an estimated 30,000-60,000 children are born each year through sperm donation, but this number is only an educated guess. Neither the industry nor any other entity in the U.S. is required to report on these vital statistics.” A Sept. 5 article in The New York Times, “1 Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring,” profiled a family that realized their donor-conceived son had at least 149 half-siblings and this number would likely be growing.

--

The fertility industry in the United States is a vast enterprise, grossing more than $3.3 billion each year. Despite its size and influence, there is little regulation. Sperm donors are not required to register their donations, and few donor or patient records are kept. As the 2010 report observed, “The fertility industry is increasingly a cross-border phenomenon. No one knows how many children are being conceived in one country and born in another.” In fact, 46% of donor offspring agree with the statement When I’m romantically attracted to someone, I have worried that we could be unknowingly related.
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“The idea that one can become a parent without an encounter with a person is changing the way women think about marriage and family,” Roback Morse explains. “This is an attempt at entanglement-free familyhood.” Additionally, such a method sets up and supports a system where fathers have no responsibility to care for their children, as in the case of Alana, who regularly asks herself and her readers, “In what world is it okay to abandon your child for $75? In what world is it rewarded?”

At minimum, there should be a donor registry and a cap on sperm donations.  I side with Roback Morse who said, “No one dies from infertility. While it can be devastating, this is not a life-threatening illness. No one is entitled to these services.  Shut them down."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:20 PM | Permalink

October 3, 2011

Educational theft, another overreach by the state

Public schools today are a modern day plantation.  Under penalty of law, parents must send their children to the school assigned.  Most parents favor school choice, say by using a voucher system; however the teachers unions oppose such choice wherever it is proposed.  Parents have little control over what their children are taught and if that means teaching about sexuality and homosexuality to children grade school, even if it directly contravenes what the parents believe, so be it.  The state knows best.

But making it a felony and jailing parents who want to send their children to a better school and try to do so using the father's or the grandparents' address is horrifying.  Taxpayers money is being used to spy on parents to verify their true residences.

Latest Crime Wave - Sending Your Child to a Better School

In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.  An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.
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 Mother Jailed For Wanting Better Education For Children


These arrests represent two major forms of exasperation. First is that of parents whose children are zoned into failing public schools—they can't afford private schooling, they can't access school vouchers, and they haven't won or haven't even been able to enter a lottery for a better charter school. Then there's the exasperation of school officials finding it more and more difficult to deal with these boundary-hopping parents.

From California to Massachusetts, districts are hiring special investigators to follow children from school to their homes to determine their true residences and decide if they "belong" at high-achieving public schools. School districts in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all boasted recently about new address-verification programs designed to pull up their drawbridges and keep "illegal students" from entering their gates.
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Only in a world where irony is dead could people not marvel at concerned parents being prosecuted for stealing a free public education for their children.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

September 15, 2011

He keeps track of all his kids on an Excel spreadsheet

Boston attorney Ben Sisler knows he has at least 70 children and he's only 33.

As kids conceived with donated sperm grow up, life may get complicated for donors

He is registered on an online registry called the Donor Sibling Registry that matches children conceived by sperm donors with their biological fathers and half-siblings. Based on his calculations, “I have reason to expect between 120 and 140,’’ said Seisler. He recently met two of them - a 7-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother, who bore what Seisler calls “a bizarre resemblance’’ to him - as part of a reality documentary special, “Style Exposed: Sperm Donor,’’ which airs Sept. 27 on the Style network.
---
Seisler said he’s glad he met the kids but admits the experience was at times a bit surreal. “It was kind of wild. On the one hand, these kids are biologically my kids. On the other hand they are not my kids. I didn’t raise them. I have no control over how they are raised.

“There is no road map for this, no protocol to follow,’’ Seisler reflected. “This really is uncharted territory.’’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:02 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

'It's the worst possible nightmare for parents on both sides.'

What a horror for both mother and father, knowing that a child of theirs may have been born and they have no idea where or to whom.

Married couple sue fertility clinic after woman's embryos are 'implanted into a DIFFERENT woman'

A young married couple are suing an IVF clinic after their embryos were lost and may have been implanted into another woman.

Alex Walterspiel and Melanie Waters, a married couple in their 30s, conceived their three-year-old son artificially and had the remaining embryos frozen in the hope they would get pregnant again.

But when they returned to the Santa Monica clinic this year they were told the embryos had been lost.

 Melanie Waters And Son

Los Angeles court papers from a suit filed by the couple suggest the three remaining embryos are 'most likely' to have been mistakenly implanted into another woman's womb.

'They are torn apart by this,' the couple's lawyer, Andrew Vorzimer, told ABC News. 'It's the worst possible nightmare for parents on both sides.'

The couple has filed a lawsuit against their IVF specialist Dr John Jain, the president of the Santa Monica Fertility clinic.

Wisdom has not kept pace with technology.  The United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not regulate fertility clinics. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:48 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2011

Brave New World

I've resurrected an old draft and never published post because I keep coming across more examples of the brave new world.

Go back sixty years or so and no one then alive could imagine such news stories. except perhaps for George Orwell , C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and a Catholic pope or two.

"My Fertility Crisis" - When Natural Becomes Counter-Cultural

Sprawled on the cover of WSJ's Life and Culture section this weekend was a photo of a woman who is my age, 42, and using IVF. She wrote an article about her "fertility crisis" and when I picked it up, I sighed and began to read, and to battle the anger that wells up inside me when people start talking about having a "right" to children as if they are mere objects to be wanted or not. Instead, by the time I got to the end, I felt sad. This could have been me. It could be any woman today.

I've wondered at the popularity of horror films so this strikes me as true because everyone wants to feel more alive. Horror as Stimulant

Challenges are few, and people have a lot of time on their hands. They seek increasing levels of horror, violence, profanity, obscenity, and other kinds of extremism in entertainment in order to feel alive. Another aspect is that political correctness has drained daily life of much of its excitement....  modern relativism means strong views and opinions have to be suppressed, because they are seen as coercive to those who don’t have them. Everything must be shrugged off as “no problem,” and each person’s views must be given equal weight and polite deference. Lively conversation and real debate is squelched....

This is deadening, and so people seek to feel life in other ways, grotesque entertainment being one of them.

Sperm donor's 24 kids never told about his fatal, genetic illness

The fertility industry in the United States is one of the most unregulated in the developed world, said Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, a group that has matched some 8,400 donor offspring with their half siblings and/or donors.

‘There are no rules or regulations about donor identification, testing donors, monitoring numbers of children or medical records,’ she said. ‘No one is watching. There are no laws. They don't keep track.’
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Come Friday, Washington is set to be the first state to give donor-conceived people the right to crucial health information about their biological parents when they turn eighteen. Previously, they were not entitled to any information and medical records were rarely updated.

With approximately 1 million children in the US born via a sperm donor, it is shameful that these children have no access to their father's medical records and information.

Suicide up to 14 times more likely for 'queer' groups.    Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Paul Butler says


“The LGBTI community reports higher levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems with evidence suggesting they are 3.5 to 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general community,”

Why, with all the debt we are piling up, would the Department of Health and Human Services decide this was a dandy time to require that birth control, under the guise of preventive health protection be dispensed 'free to all' but at great cost to taxpayers ?  Since when has pregnancy been considered a disease?

What's wrong with the HHS birth control mandate

This is not health care. It’s ideology.

And it’s a threat to healthcare providers with religious believers and moral convictions that oppose that ideology, convictions that have long been protected by law

Students should be allowed to sell their kidneys to pay off their student debt says one Scots academic.  Fortunately not all Scots are so mad.  The National Union of Students called the idea 'ludicrous' and said students should not be expected to sell off body parts to pay for their education.

Are Chinese companies selling pills made up of dead babies as stamina boosters?

SBS claims a DNA test found 99.7% human stuff crammed inside the tablets—which Google disturbingly translates as "man capsules"—and was fresh enough to distinguish gender. This is probably the most revolting thing I've ever read.

And with that, I'm done.  I can't take any more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2011

Defense becoming more difficult

The job of protecting the country and its citizens gets increasingly harder and more complex.  Beyond all the wars we're engages and the troubles around the world, we have serious problems here in America.

Very disturbing.  Most U.S. Mosques Teach Violence

Last week came new confirmation that mosques in the U.S. aren’t quite holding potluck suppers and teaching civic pieties.  A new study has demonstrated that 80% of mosques right in this country are teaching jihad warfare and Islamic supremacism.

Researchers Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi reported in the Summer 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly about a new survey that found that “51% of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Sharia-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim.”  Another 30% of mosques in the United States “had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence,” while only “19% had no violent texts at all.”

Al Qaeda -Linked Site Site US "Hit List" of US officials, military and business leaders.

The Department of Homeland Security has sent out an internal alert warning that jihadist websites last week posted a "hit list" of American executives, officials and companies -- an alarming development that could mark the start of a new phase in terror plots

China's Cyberassault on America

Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage.
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Recently the computer-security company RSA (a division of EMC) was penetrated by an intrusion which appears to have stolen the secret sauce behind the company's SecureID. That system is widely used to protect critical computer networks. And this month, the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed, was subject to cyberespionage, apparently by someone using the stolen RSA data. Cyber criminals don't hack defense contractors—they go after banks and credit cards. Despite Beijing's public denials, this attack and many others have all the hallmarks of Chinese government operations.

In 2009, this newspaper reported that the control systems for the U.S. electric power grid had been hacked and secret openings created so that the attacker could get back in with ease. Far from denying the story, President Obama publicly stated that "cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid."

So it is with incomprehension that I read about the Gunwalker scandal as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examines what the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with the blessings of the Department of Justice, did in what they called Operation Fast and Furious. 

The more than 2,000 weapons that the Obama Justice Department allowed to be delivered to Mexican narco-terrorist cartels are thought to have been used in the shooting of an estimated 150 Mexican law enforcement officers and soldiers battling the cartels. Two American law enforcement officers have also presumably fallen prey to these weapons, along with an unknown number of civilians on both sides of the border.

President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has purposefully armed narco-terrorist drug cartels that have been accused of bombings, ambushes, mass murders, public executions, and the assassination of police, politicians, and civic leaders.

Obama’s Justice Department armed the enemy of our neighbor and ally, providing enough arms to equip ten infantry companies, or two battalions, of violent drug dealers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 PM | Permalink

January 25, 2011

A modern madness

Tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US

The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.

"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

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Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.

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Turkle's book, however, has sparked the most debate so far. It is a cri de coeur for putting down the BlackBerry, ignoring Facebook and shunning Twitter. "We have invented inspiring and enhancing technologies, yet we have allowed them to diminish us," she writes.

---Another strand of thought in the field of cyber-scepticism is found in The Net Delusion, by Evgeny Morozov. He argues that social media has bred a generation of "slacktivists". It has made people lazy and enshrined the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time.


;Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other" (Sherry Turkle)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

The War Next Door

Investors Business Daily asks Anyone Notice The War Next Door?

Mexico's war against drug and alien-smuggling cartels grows ever more similar to the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beheadings, stonings, car bombs and terrorist attacks speak to a lust for power every bit as implacable as that of the Afghanistan's Taliban or the insurgents of Iraq.

The cartels may seem to be just a police problem, but Mexico's own officials know better: President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about their actions says they mean to take over.

But even with such a nearby threat, there are no U.S. crisis task forces or special envoys. The Northern Command hasn't been bolstered. The unbuilt border fence is one excuse after another, hostage to domestic and electoral politics.
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Does anyone care that a cartel has threatened to destroy a dam in Texas? Oregon officials report huge new cartel marijuana fields on a scale never seen earlier.

The Los Angeles Police Department even warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in America's second-largest city.
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On Monday, another small-town Mexican mayor, Gustavo Sanchez of Tancitaro, was shot dead by cartels for firing corrupt officials. It was the fifth murder of a mayor in five weeks.
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In Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 tops 6,000, while deaths in the entire country have surpassed 29,000. The latest outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old girl. She was murdered as she slept in her bed Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.

Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, population 1.3 million, have fled for their lives from cartels, a citizens group reported last week, with 54% of them gone to El Paso.

This sure gives an added dimension to the issue of border security.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

September 14, 2010

'Zero tolerance' for dissent

‘"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.” said Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary, objecting to the claims by health insurers that increased costs imposed by Obamacare will force them to raise premiums.  Then she went on to threaten them, “We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.”

Now I'm not looking forward to premium increases any more than you are, but I was startled and then outraged that any public official would dare say such a thing. 

Michael Barone calls it "Gangster Government going after Obamacare critics"

”Congress shall make no law,” reads the First Amendment, “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Sebelius’s approach is different: “zero tolerance” for dissent.

The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm a business because the owners disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration’s transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.

This is deeply alarming abuse of power.  From the Morning Bell of the Heritage Foundation

Never before in the history of our republican form of government has an administration threatened to extinguish individual firms for merely communicating with their customers. But such are the dictatorial powers Obamacare grants to Secretary Sebelius. There are over 1,000 instances in the more than 2,700 page bill where Congress granted Secretary Sebelius new powers to regulate the health care industry. For example, her power to “determine” what does or does not count as a medical expense alone will decide the fate of many health insurance firms.

In Get Ready for Your Health Care 'Re-Education' we learn about some of the new requirements of the law placed on all insurers.

Under ObamaCare, insurers must now offer dozens of services for “free,” including various forms of cancer screening, vaccinations, and AIDS testing. But of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch — instead the costs must be shifted to other customers. Hence, many insurers have started raising their rates, explaining that it is due to these new regulations.

But, according to Secretary Sibelius, they can't say a word about it or the power of the federal government will destroy their business.

Thuggish indeed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2010

Many will have to change their names

These remarks by Google CEO Eric Schmidt do not boost confidence.

Young will have to change names to escape 'cyber past' warns Google's Eric Schmidt

_google-schmidt.jpg

The private lives of young people are now so well documented on the internet that many will have to change their names on reaching adulthood, Google’s CEO has claimed.

"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," Mr Schmidt told the Wall Street Journal in an
interview.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2010

If only the United Nations were what we wish it to be

If only the United Nations were what we wish it to be.    But it's not.

A group of 40 auditors from around the world examined the United Nations climate change report and gave it an F.

The team, recruited by the climate-change skeptics behind the website NoConsensus.org, found that 5,600 of the 18,500 sources in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Nobel Prize-winning 2007 report were not peer reviewed.

"We've been told it's 100 percent peer-reviewed science. But thousands of sources cited by this report have been nowhere near a scientific journal."
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According to Lafromboise, much of the scientific research published by the U.N. cited press releases, newspaper and magazine clippings, student theses, newsletters, discussion papers, and literature published by green advocacy groups.

The U.N. is spending $732 million for peacekeeping in Haiti.    Two-thirds of the money is going to pay for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel of which the U.S. pays 27%. This is over and above the $733 million in humanitarian aid given by countries and individuals and in addition to the $15 billion pledged by the international community.

They are apparently ineffectual on the ground as Haitian corruption creates a nightmare where police and bureaucrats hold American vehicles hostage for exorbitant fees and starving refugees wait for water.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:52 PM | Permalink

February 22, 2010

"I have been disqualified from a running race for running," he explained

Mark Steyn on Why the West is going down the drain

In Britain, it is traditional on Shrove Tuesday to hold pancake races, in which contestants run while flipping a pancake in a frying pan. The appeal of the event depends on the potential pitfalls in attempting simultaneous rapid forward propulsion and pancake tossing. But, in St. Albans, England, competitors were informed by Health & Safety officials that they were "banned from running due to fears they would slip over in the rain." Watching a man walk up the main street with a skillet is not the most riveting event, even in St. Albans. In the heat of the white-knuckle thrills, team captain David Emery momentarily forgot the new rules. "I have been disqualified from a running race for running," he explained afterwards.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:50 PM | Permalink

January 11, 2010

Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four

1984 is long gone, we live in the Brave New World.  Aldous Huxley wrote the far more prescient and prophetic Brave New World fifteen years before George Orwell wrote his.

If you ever had any confusion about the differences between the two, check out  Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eighty Four  through the talented work of Stuart McMillen.

  Orwell V Huxley

Remembering Brave New World which I read for the first time last year, I was reminded of this piece by Mark Steyn on Sexual Liberty

In terms of sexual identity, we’re freer than almost any society in human history, at least in terms of official validation of our choice to “redefine” ourselves in defiance of biological and physiological reality.
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At some point we will come to see that the developed world’s massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so? It’s an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized—like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter “I did it My Way!”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink

December 6, 2009

Pregnancy stem cells

Life-saving pregnancy stem cells

Italians suggest tailor-made treatments for babies possible

A pregnant woman carries stem cells that could be used in critical medical treatments for her baby, either in the womb or later in life, a team of Italian scientists has announced. These cells, found in the womb during pregnancy, can be removed during a simple antenatal test and stored for future use, concluded the study, which appears in next week's edition of the Cloning and Stem Cells journal.
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''We took these cells from women whose fetuses were affected with spinal muscular atrophy and we were able to correct the genetic defect using genetic therapy,'' said Novelli. Although the technique is not yet sophisticated enough to cure the disease, the team says the day could come when corrected cells could be injected back into the fetus to treat genetic disorders before birth.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2009

Scenes from the Brave New World

Scenes from the Brave New World

No men OR women needed: Scientists create sperm and eggs from stem cells

Scientists at Stanford University in California found the right cocktail of chemicals and vitamins to coax the cells into becoming eggs and sperm.
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The American team used stem cells taken from embryos in the first days of life but hope to repeat the process with slivers of skin.

Somehow I don't think it's ever going to work.

Gateway Pundit reports on the Skincare company now using aborted fetal tissue in anti-aging cream.

The skin care company, Neocutis, calls them "processed skin cell proteins"  or PSP®, the trademark they have registered for the aborted fetal tissue used in their anti-aging skin cream.  The phrase to watch for is "bio-restorative" as in Lumiere, bio-restorative eye cream, Journee, bio-restorative day cream, BioGel, bio-restorative hydrogel.  Knowing that can you imagine using those creams every day on your face?

In certain council recreation areas in Britain, parents are banned from watching their children in playgrounds...in case they might be pedophiles.

Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council 'play rangers' who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds 'unchecked'.

But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.

Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and increasing hysteria over child protection.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:04 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2009

Who cares about science and facts?

When even the BBC asks What happened to global warming,  when there's been no increase in warming for the past 11 years despite a great increase in man made CO2,  when the leader of Greenpeace admits the organization put out fake global warming data about disappearing Arctic ice,  when the  premise of runaway global warming depends on the  'hockey stick' graph first published in Nature and then by the PCC that turns out to be based on scientific fraud, do you think our esteemed Congress might want to get more facts before imposing cap and trade taxes to be paid by everyone who consumes energy that some call the largest tax increase in American history in the midst of a recession?

I didn't think so either.

Richard Fernandez has a better and more detailed discussion in the 2010 to Yuma

Of course none of this matters. Even the eleven years of non-warming the BBC reports is irrelevant. The science itself is unimportant.  Not even twenty years of freezing winters would cool the ardor of activists.  There are too many political careers and too much money riding on the Truth of Global Warming for that train to be canceled. We’ve got to get aboard whether we like it not.

UDATE:  More from Thomas Lifson, Government Funded Research Unit Destroyed Original Climate Date

If the data cannot be reviewed, it cannot be trusted, scientifically.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2009

Wrong embryo implanted

This would have been unimaginable in any other age. 

Pregnant mother forced to give u IVF baby after doctors implanted the wrong embryo.

I must say the parents are handling a tragic situation with a great deal of grace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2009

Undue influence at the end of life

People are legitimately worried about the end-of-life provisions in the health care bill.  While I am all for end-of-life planning with the necessary documents and I'm also against unnecessary medical treatments that can make the end of life a hell on earth, I believe these are private decisions by the person and the family involved.  When doctors are paid to initiate these conversations and have the ability to execute documents on the spot, I am very concerned that economic and political concerns will have too great an influence on a vulnerable population.

So is Charles Lane, a member of the editorial staff of the The Washington Post, who writes in  Undue Influence

About a third of Americans have living wills or advance-care directives expressing their wishes for end-of-life treatment. When seniors who don't have them arrive in a hospital terminally ill and incapacitated, families and medical workers wrestle with uncertainty -- while life-prolonging machinery runs, often at Medicare's expense. This has consequences for families and for the federal budget.

Enter Section 1233 of the health-care bill drafted in the Democratic-led House, which would pay doctors to give Medicare patients end-of-life counseling every five years -- or sooner if the patient gets a terminal diagnosi

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Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they're in the meeting, the bill does permit "formulation" of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would "place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign," I don't think he's being realistic.


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But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed,
the measure would have an interested party -- the government -- recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don't have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.

Mickey Kaus puts it more succinctly

Tip for Dems: If you don't want people to think that subsidized, voluntary end-of-of-life counseling sessions are the camel's nose of an attempt to cut costs by limiting end of life care, then don't put them in a bill the overarching, stated purpose of which is to cut health care costs! .

Meanwhile we learn more about Oregon health care from a newspaper in Britain than we do in our own press

The chilling truth about the city where they pay people to die

His body ravaged by cancer, lumberjack David Prueitt barely had the strength to raise the cup to his lips.

In it was a mix of apple sauce and dozens of crushed barbiturate pills, legally prescribed by the 42-year-old's doctor to end his life.

Within minutes, the drugs had started to take effect, the terminally-ill man slipping into unconsciousness as his wife sat by his side.

If all had gone to plan, David would have quickly and peacefully passed away, his breathing becoming more laboured until it eventually stopped altogether.

But it did not happen like that. Instead, after three days in a deep coma, David suddenly woke up. 'Honey?' he said to his wife. 'What the hell happened? Why am I not dead?'

For another 13 days, coherent but racked with pain, David survived before finally succumbing to the disease and dying naturally in his home near Portland, Oregon's most populous city.

In that time he would be transformed from just another death to be recorded under Oregon's policy of assisted suicide into a figurehead for opponents of the U.S. state's deeply controversial Death With Dignity Act.

'He took five times the amount of barbiturates that should kill somebody and he still didn't die,' his older brother Steve told the Daily Mail this week.

'If anything, he should have been brain-dead. But he told us that, while unconscious, he had found himself before God and been told: "Not this way, David." God chose David as his spokesman, absolutely.'

He adds: 'It definitely made it very clear to me that we are not supposed to determine our own deaths.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2009

Killer Chip

Saudi files for 'killer' chip tracking patent

The tiny electronic device, dubbed the “Killer Chip” by Swiss daily Tagesanzeiger, would be suited for tracking fugitives from justice, terrorists, illegal immigrants, criminals, political opponents, defectors, domestic help, and Saudi Arabians who don’t return home from pilgrimages.
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After subcutaneous implantation, the chip would send out encrypted radio waves that would be tracked by satellites to confirm the person’s identity and whereabouts. An alternate model chip could reportedly release a poison into the carrier if he or she became a security risk.

It's unlikely the German patent office will award protection.

“While the application is still pending further paperwork on his part, the invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law – which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals,” spokeswoman Stephanie Krüger told The Local from Munich.

The patent application – entitled “Implantation of electronic chips in the human body for the purposes of determining its geographical location” – was filed on October 30, 2007, but was only published until last week, or 18 months after submission as required by German law, she said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2009

Unnecessary, impolitic and immoral

There's not a person I know who doesn't applaud the advances in stem cell research.

But too few of them make any distinction between adult stem cells from embryonic stem cells.  One major difference is the former have been successfully used in treatment while the latter has shown only failure.  Here are some examples of embryonic stem cell research

Past supporters of this controversial research are now speaking out about the false hype surrounding the results.  The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that doubters are coming out of the woodwork.  Paul Billings, who studied stem cells' effects and co-founded a stem cell bank, said that hopes for major new medical treatments based on embryonic stem cells are "very remote".  "The problems are so complex that we're not likely to be able to tackle them with the stem cell gambit in the foreseeable future."

Researchers in China met with a disastrous result.  Fetal tissue injected into a patient's brain produced temporary improvement, but within two years the patient developed a brain tumor and died.  An autopsy revealed that the fetal cells had taken root, but had then metamorphed into other types of human tissue - hair, skin and bone.  These grew into the tumor, which killed the patient.

A devastating result occurred at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In some of the patients, the implanted embryonic cells apparently grew too well, churning out so much of a chemical that controls movement that they writhed and jerked uncontrollably.  Dr. Paul E. Greene called the uncontrollable movements developed by some patients as "absolutely devastating."  He said, "They chew constantly, their fingers go up and down, their writs flex and distend.  It's a real nightmare.  And we can't selectively turn it off.  No more fetal transplants.  We are absolutely and adamantly convinced that this should be considered for research only."

By contrast, the use of adult stem cells have resulted in significant breakthroughs

Researchers at Harvard Medical School say adult stem cells may eliminate the need for embryonic ones.  The researchers experienced a permanent reversal of Type 1 diabetes in mice by killing the cells responsible for the diabetes.  The animals' adult stem cells took over and regenerated missing cells needed to produce insulin and eliminate the disease.  The results hold promise for rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and more than 50 other ailments.

Dr. Edward Holland of the Northern Kentucky Eye Laser Center in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area, is using adult stem cell transplants as part of a treatment to dramatically improve the eyesight of his patients.

New research in the UK on rats indicates that transplants of adult stem cells can help stroke victims regain movement, senses and understanding.  They also show that the adult cells were more effective than cells from aborted babies.
The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York came to similar conclusions.

Abe Greenwald  scoffs at the idea that the President is removing politics and ideology from science.

The issue at hand is stem cell research, and in case accuracy on George W. Bush’s record matters to anyone at this point, let it be known that Bush never prohibited open scientific inquiry, and never engaged in “manipulation or coercion” of data. He never “distorted or concealed” scientific information to serve an ideology. He didn’t even “ban” federally funded embryonic stem cell research; he prohibited federal funding for research if the “cell derivation” process was initiated after August 9, 2001. And how funny it is to be scolded on the importance of unfettered scientific inquiry from the man who says of climate change, “The science is beyond dispute.”

So why did President Obama lift restrictions on taxpayer -funded research on embryonic stem cells?

It seems impolitic at best, raising yet another controversy when ALL focus should be on the economy and fixing the banks.

Investors Business Daily calls it fool's good by Bailing Out Bad Science.

With Obama lifting the restrictions on Monday, we will now be federally funding research that has yet to produce a single therapy or a single treatment of an actual human being, at least one that works. It has generated a lot of hope but very little change. It is he who is putting ideology over science.
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If embryonic stem cells are so promising, why aren't venture capitalists lining up and why does ESCR need federal funding?

Unnecessary, impolitic and profoundly immoral.

As Charles Krauthammer points out

One is the president has left open the cloning of human embryos in order to destroy them in experiments.

Secondly, he leaves open the creation of human embryos entirely for the purpose of research and experimentation.

As expected, the Vatican slams embryonic research, condemning it as "deeply immoral".

Catholic teaching holds that life begins at conception and opposes research involving destruction of human embryos.

The Vatican's newspaper quoted from a condemnation issued last year by U.S. bishops who expressed worry that there will be "no stopping point" if humans are treated as mere objects of research.

You don't have to be Catholic or even religious to understand what William Saletan at Slate does

You don't have to equate embryos with full-grown human beings—I don't—to appreciate the danger of exploiting them. Embryos are the beginnings of people. They're not parts of people. They're the whole thing, in very early form. Harvesting them, whether for research or medicine, is different from harvesting other kinds of cells. It's the difference between using an object and using a subject. How long can we grow this subject before dismembering it to get useful cells? How far should we strip-mine humanity in order to save it?

The danger of seeing the stem-cell war as a contest between science and ideology is that you bury these dilemmas. You forget the moral problem. You start lying to yourself and others about what you're doing. You invent euphemisms like pre-embryo, pre-conception, and clonote. Your ethical lines begin to slide.
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The stem-cell fight wasn't a fight between ideology and science. It was a fight between 5-day-olds and 50-year-olds. The 50-year-olds won.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

March 9, 2009

Something rotten in the state of Connecticut

Legislation was introduced last Thursday (Senate Bill 1098) in Connecticut that would remove bishops and pastors from overseeing their parishes and substituting in their place a boards of directors composed of lay people to whom each pastor would report.

This is unbelievable and undoubtedly unconstitutional -  the state attempting to direct how churches should be governed.  So much for separation of church and state.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said
"But prejudice against the Catholic Church has a long pedigree in the United States. And rarely has belligerence toward the Church been so perfectly and nakedly captured as in Connecticut’s pending Senate Bill 1098, which, in the words of Hartford’s Archbishop Henry Mansell, ‘directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.’"

"In effect, SB 1098 would give the state of Connecticut the power to forcibly reorganize the internal civil life of the Catholic community. This is bad public policy in every sense: imprudent; unjust; dismissive of First Amendment concerns, and contemptuous of the right of the Catholic Church to be who she is as a public entity," the archbishop criticized.

According to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, called for the expulsion of  State Senator Andrew McDonald and Representative Michael Lawlor chairmen of the Judiciary Committee who  introduced the bill .

“Bishop Lori is correct to say that the bill ‘is a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the Catholic Church on the important issues of the day, such as same-sex marriage.’ Indeed, it is payback: this brutal act of revenge by Lawlor and McDonald, two champions of gay marriage, is designed to muzzle the voice of the Catholic Church.

“By singling out the Catholic Church—no other religion has been targeted—Lawlor and McDonald have demonstrated that they are ethically unfit to continue as lawmakers. They have evinced a bias so strong, and so malicious, that it compromises their ability to serve the public good. They should therefore be expelled by their colleagues.

The president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty whose mission is to protect the free expression of all religious traditions said

"This bill is doubly unconstitutional. It would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment even if it applied to all churches. but the fact that it applies to only one church - the Catholic Church - makes it unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment besides. This is truly a monstrosity."

UPDATE: After a firestorm of protest, the hearing on the bill scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled.  The bill is dead for the rest of the legislative session,

Following the biggest political firestorm of the 2009 legislative session, a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday on the financial and administrative management of the Catholic Church has been canceled. The bill is dead for the rest of the legislative session.

As soon as word spread about the bill, the Legislative Office Building was flooded with telephone calls and e-mails on Monday. The bill, virtually overnight, became the hottest issue at the state Capitol.

The cancellation came less than 24 hours after Senate Republican John McKinney of Fairfield called for the cancellation, saying that his caucus was unanimously against the bill because they believe it is clearly unconstitutional.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 PM | Permalink

March 4, 2009

Bad for IVF children

In Britain, single women having in vitro fertilization will now be able to name anyone they like as their baby's father on the birth certificate.

father, mother, sister, brother, female lover, best friend.

The 'father' does not need to be genetically related to the baby, nor  in any sort of romantic relationship with the father, but will have to consent to being named.  The 'father' will have to take on the legal and moral responsibilities of parenthood.

Another blow to fatherhood: IVF mothers can name ANYONE as 'father' on birth certificate.

This raises the spectre of a legal minefield in which female 'fathers' will fight for visitation rights and be chased for child support payments if their fragile relationship with the mother breaks down.

The changes, due to come in on April 6, will apply to many of the 2,000 women a year who have IVF using sperm from anonymous donors.

The regulations are part of the controversial Embryology Bill passed by Parliament last year. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said they will give lesbian couples in civil partnerships who undergo IVF the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
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Baroness Deech, a former chairman of the HFEA, said the practice would lead to the ' falsification of the birth certificate'.

She said: 'This is putting the rights of the parents way above those of the child. It is absurd that anyone can be named as the father or the second parent.'

What a mess.  Do they have any idea how they are damaging the child's future?  Where is the concern for the child here?

They will be doomed to confusion, alienation  and genetic bewilderment, the "Life Debt' of Donor Conceived Children

One expert, Dr Trevor Stamers, a GP and lecturer in healthcare ethics said:

'There is no doubt from sociological evidence accumulated over the past few years that children do best in a two-parent married family with heterosexual couples being the married parents.

'It probably will be the child that is the loser but by the time we find that out, in 15 or 16 years, a huge amount of damage will have been done.'

We depend on birth certificates for accurate information on genetic and biological heritage.  Now, with the collusion of the state,  single women will be allowed to conceal the true genetic identity of the child.

I've written about this often. Listen to the cry of one such child in More Genetic Bewilderment


I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place.

Cut off from their genetic history.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:57 PM | Permalink

March 2, 2009

Checkmate in Darfur

In a terrific post about Darfur, Rusty Humphries, after visiting Darfur explains what is going on in simple terms.

What Hollywod gets wrong about Darfur.

Last year, I decided to find out the truth about Darfur.  I had the opportunity to go to the region to help with humanitarian aid.  It was an eye-opening, horrendous experience.
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First, the history you won’t hear from Clooney and his ilk.  Darfur is a region in Sudan. About 30 years ago the Arab Muslims in the north decided they that wanted to implement Sharia law throughout the entire country.  The problem was that there are a lot of people in Sudan who aren’t interested in Sharia law: the folks in the south are generally black Christians.  So the Muslims started a war in which about 2 million people were killed or displaced.  The Arabs in the north enslaved many of the blacks from the south — a barbaric practice which continues to this day.  Today, the war is at a stalemate.  South Sudan is working on a cession plan.  The citizens of southern Sudan are much poorer than those in the north because oil revenues tend to be given much more freely to those who follow Mohammad.
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While I was there, I met thousands of people who had recently been slaves.  We found a group of young men and women who had been released - and they didn’t even realize they were no longer slaves.
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The international community is fostering this genocide.  The Chinese receive a large percentage of their oil from Sudan, and so turn a blind eye to the slaughter.  The Russians, who still want to have a role as a major superpower, supply weapons and air support to the Arab Muslim government.  The Arab Muslim thugs who run Sudan receive support from Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, all of whom want to help their Arab Muslim brothers against the kuffar.
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“Why isn’t the UN stopping this?” I asked.  Here was their answer: “We can’t go in unless the government of Sudan invites us in.” You heard that correctly: the Arab Muslim government in Khartoum is slaughtering and enslaving their own people and the U.N. won’t stop them because the human trash committing these crimes won’t ask the U.N. to stop them.
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Checkmate.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:29 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2009

"The first instance of mass book-burning in the 21st century"

A four-volume Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization seems to be 'Too Christian' for Academia?

Wiley-Blackwell, a major academic press, was set to release its four-volume Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization this month. According to the encyclopedia’s editor, George Thomas Kurian, the set had been copy-edited, fact-checked, proofread, publisher-approved, printed, bound, and formally launched (to high praise) at the recent American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature conference. But protests from a small group of scholars associated with the project have led the press to postpone publication, recall all copies already distributed, and destroy the existing print run. The scholars’ complaint? The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, they have reportedly argued, is “too Christian.” “They also object to historical references to the persecution and massacres of Christians by Muslims,” Kurian says, “but at the same time want references favorable to Islam.”
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Political correctness in academic publishing is nothing new, but it would be unusual, to say the least, for ideological pressure to lead a publisher to reverse itself so late in the process, especially given the significant financial losses involved in pulping a print run of a gigantic four-volume encyclopedia. As Kurian puts it, “This is probably the first instance of mass book-burning in the 21st century.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2009

"Family breakdown a triumph of human rights'

When I read the the head of the United Nations Population Fund said that family breakdown is a triumph for human rights against "patriachy" all I could think of was Brave New World where the idea of a family was repellent because 'everyone belongs to everyone else'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:01 AM | Permalink

January 28, 2009

The Sacrosanct Pill

It's wise to be wary of the pill

According to the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, an alarming rise in male infertility in developed nations is possibly caused by the quantities of synthetic female hormones, particularly estrogen, in the food chain and water. These quantities are directly attributable to increased use of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy.
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Indeed, according to Canberra Hospital professor Peter Collignon, an opponent of recycling sewage water into the potable supply, estrogen can be more of a problem in recycled water than microbes because it cannot be filtered out and we simply do not know how well it breaks down. Just as the Romans drinking from lead cups unwittingly caused infertility in themselves, perhaps we are seeing after 30 years of contraceptive pill use the long-term effects of introducing artificial estrogen into our wider environment. So you see this is not just a preoccupation of the misogynistic old Vatican.

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The evidence that synthetic hormones can have grotesque environmental effects has actually been around for a long time and it is mounting. As long ago as the 1980s, studies were done in the US which showed the effects of estrogen pollution on wildlife, famously alligators in Florida with deformed genitals.
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There are so many reasons for being wary of the contraceptive pill. Why are we not questioning its prevalence?

The reason is, of course, that it is the sacred cow of the sexual revolution. One imaginative letter writer claimed the Catholic view of the pill was that it was "the great Satan", and actually that is not a bad description. It was marketed as an instrument of sexual freedom, and it has provided that, particularly for men. But one might ask if for women it has been the means of sexual liberation or just a way of turning us into empty vessels for sex? Is it like the sexual revolution itself: a pretty and alluring package that turns out to be - for both sexes - like a series of empty boxes, one inside the other. At the end, there is nothing but an empty box.

It's astonishing when you think of it.  If there were any other cause for worldwide male infertility and environmental degradation, people would be up in arms.

Where is the EPA?  Where is the UN?  Where is the outrage?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

January 26, 2009

"'This was devastating news and would have an enormous impact on my life."

The headline says it all.

Mother's fury at dead daughter's fiance's plan to have baby with his sister using frozen IVF embryos.

I think this is grotesque.  No doubt the boyfriend is grieving, but this action is entirely misplaced, an example of personal selfishness trumping the well-being of a child.    Imagine the burden the child will have to carry: her biological mother dead, her surrogate mother, the sister of her father and no one on the scene to mother her.    Certainly not the grandmother.

Not only was her daughter buried against the mother's wishes, the former boyfriend will have no contact with her, so that even if the child is born, the grandmother who is also grieving the death of her daughter, will never see her.

'This was devastating news and would have an enormous impact on my life. It is also something I believe Kay would be against.'

Mrs Bates has stayed in Australia fighting to bring her daughter's body home after, she said, Miss Stanley was buried there against her wishes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:59 PM | Permalink

December 14, 2008

In Holland, "people carry cards that read, "Please don't kill me."

Why the 'right to die" is  fashionable nonsense.

This is why in the Netherlands, the supposedly enlightened pioneer of euthanasia, more than a quarter of “physician-assisted” deaths occur without any request from the patient-victim and people carry cards that read: “Please don’t kill me.” Some persist in calling this “dignity in dying”, but the Dutch health ministry recently admitted that a third of “physician-assisted deaths” had “complications”, such as delays in the poison taking effect, vomiting and even patients waking up afterwards. Dignified, it is not.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence given to the House of Lords came from Dr Bert Keizer, who worked as a geriatrician in Amsterdam for a quarter of a century and carried out many “physician-assisted suicides”– the basis of his book Dancing with Mr D. Dr Keizer told our legislators: “It is useless to worry about the slippery slope.
Once a society has decided that euthanasia is allowed in certain cases, one is on it. Thus in Holland we have given up the condition that a patient must be in a terminal situation. Next, mental suffering was allowed [as a reason]. Then one’s future dementia was suggested as a reason for a request for death . . . I believe, on the grounds of the more than 1,000 deathbeds I attended, that euthanasia is a blessing in certain exceptional situations, yet I would rather die in a country where euthanasia is forbidden but where doctors do know how to look after patients in a humane manner.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2008

Widow can't use husband's frozen sperm to conceive.

Because her late husband made it clear he did not want to father a child posthumously
Widow can't use husband's frozen sperm to conceive.

The court said he and his wife had a loving marriage, with one subject of disagreement: She wanted children and he did not. They nevertheless tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child and went to a clinic to begin in vitro fertilization in June 2005, but had not completed the procedure before his death.

His widow, administrator of his estate, sought custody of the vial of sperm he had deposited with the clinic. A Superior Court judge refused, citing the couple's contract with the clinic in which a box was checked saying the sperm was to be discarded if he became incapacitated or died.
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But the court said such rights must give way to her husband's stated intent not to father a child after death. Quoting the 1993 California ruling, the court said the husband, as the donor, had "sole decision-making authority as to the use of his sperm for reproduction."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2008

Forty percent in a 'vegetative state' are misdiagnosed

John Cornwell writes about those trapped inside their bodies, apparently switched off to the world, 40% of whom are misdiagnosed in The Undead.

here’s at least one mordantly amusing and true story told to me by a psychologist at Putney’s Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. “Young man with motorbike head injury in a coma. His mum, a keen evangelical, comes every day with friends to sing Onward, Christian Soldiers by his bedside. She’s hoping to stimulate his brain into action. It works: he comes round, but he can’t speak. So they fit him up with one of those Stephen Hawking-type laptops, and the first words he speaks are: “For God’s sake, Mum, shut it!” That’s about as funny as it gets on a brain-injury ward, but there’s a serious take-home message. Even minimally aware patients can retain emotions, personality, a capacity to suffer – and, as the young biker showed, attitude.
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Cornwell writes about a small group of colleagues, Owen, the Prof,  Pickard Menon  and Coleman who are collaborating on innovative techniques for brain-damaged patients, the Impaired Consciousness Group.

The biggest, most tragic clinical myth about brain injury today is that PVS can be reliably diagnosed by bedside observation alone. It has in fact been known for at least a decade, ever since a key survey of brain-injured patients, that misdiagnosis of the condition runs at more than 40%, a statistic originally calculated by Professor Keith Andrews, former head of the Putney hospital, and confirmed by recent surveys in Europe and North America.

It's essential that we do the necessary imaging and brain-scanning to get the true information about patients before pulling the plug.    The demand for fresh organs for transplant is too great.

According to Steven Laureys, professor of neurology at Liège University, there is constant pressure in many parts of the developed world to withdraw sustenance from vegetative patients in order to allow them to die so that their body parts can be harvested. In a recent study, Laureys reports, “slightly less than half of surveyed US neurologists and nursing-home directors believed that patients in a vegetative state could be declared dead”. His remarks should be set against the background of widespread shortages of organs and body parts for transplantation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2008

Changing what it means to be human

We used to share an idea of what we mean by the word human.  Now it's not so clear. 

Following the decision of the U. S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade  legalizing abortion, it became acceptable, even politically correct,  to call a human embryo,  'a bunch of cells' thus denying the obvious truth that the 'bunch of cells' was a human being at the earliest stage of development.  When the clear bright moral line upholding the sanctity of human life  was breached, a Pandora's box was opened. 

We are seeing the consequences now. 

In the past few days, Parliament has pooh-poohed the idea that human beings, artificially bred in a laboratory, need fathers or father-substitutes.

The same law-makers, who see nothing wrong with aborting a child aged 24 weeks in the mother's womb, have also joyfully given the go-ahead to research which will involve the creation of human-animal hybrids in laboratories.

This is a momentous step. A decent society is one in which every man, woman and child is regarded as a sacrosanct individual, but such a belief is untenable if our law is also to allow scientists to tinker with our DNA, the stuff of life itself, and to mix it with the DNA of other species.

A N Wilson imagines What would the world be like without men?

In light of the debates this week in Parliament and elsewhere about embryology, about the very nature of life itself, it seems all too possible that by the time today's children are middle-aged they will be living in a Brave New World more horrible than Aldous Huxley imagined in 1932.
--

People in Huxley's nightmare do not reproduce through sex or family life. Instead, they are bred in Hatcheries, and then divided into castes  -  the Alphas and Betas running the show, the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons are slaves.

Is this really so far-fetched?
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A few die-hards insisted on such foolish old mantras as 'everyone needs a dad', but the appendage 'like a hole in the head' was soon tacked on by the rest of society.

After the coup, masculinity became illegal and it became necessary, by humane means, of course, to eliminate males altogether.

In the matter of abortion, for example, agnostics and religious believers all agreed that the foetus was a human being. Such a simple belief is no longer taken for granted, and the human body itself is seen by many scientists as an object in a laboratory with which to be experimented.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:51 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2008

Britannia Drowning

When I read the news from England, I imagine the bright, shiny coin of the British Empire on which Britannia stood strong to protect the rights of her citizens now falling into the darkness with just her head above water, gasping.

 Britannnia Drowning

Children no longer have a right to a father or even a male role model since Parliament voted that fertility clinics need no longer consider a child's need for a father when a single woman or a lesbian couple seeks fertility services.  The experience of the ages that tells us that fathers are necessary for the stable environment needed to raise healthy and happy children is being tossed aside.  Instead human beings are now to be manufactured to suit the selfish desires of the putative parents trumping the needs of those children brought into the world in such a fashion.

We have evidence of "donor-conceived adults who describe the psychological and emotional anguish of being "genetic orphans" who struggle with
powerful feelings of loss of identity through not knowing one or both biological parents and their wider biological families...  They believe society was complicit in a serious wrong done to them in the way they were conceived and ask, “How could anyone think they had the right to do this to me?”

Donor-conceived children
know that the parents raising them are also the ones who intentionally created them with a severed relationship to at least one of their biological parents. The pain they feel was caused not by some distant, shadowy person who gave them up, but by the parent who cares for them.

This knowledge brings the loyalty and love they naturally feel for the parents raising them in direct conflict with the identity quest we all must go through. When they ask, "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?" they confront a welter of painful uncertainties our culture hasn't begun to understand.

Despite overwhelming evidence that children without fathers are far more susceptible to problems in school and with drink or drugs, the government now takes the official position that creating fatherless families is just fine. 

No wonder two million British citizens have left the U.K.  in the past decade, in the greatest exodus from the country in almost a century.

"Crossing the ultimate boundary" -human-animal embryos.

Regulators have agreed that 'Human-animal' embryos can be created and used for research.  This decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority  crosses a moral absolute, horrific all the more so because it's totally unnecessary.

Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.

One conservative MP said
mingling animal and human DNA crossed an “ultimate boundary”. He said that exaggerated claims were giving patients false hope and that the dangers of the research were unknown. “In many ways we are like children playing with landmines without any concept of the dangers of the technology we are handling,” he said.

The United States, Canada and  Australia ban the creation of human-animal hybrids.  But Britain, the nation that prides itself on its caring for animals, has strict regulation on medical testing of animals, prohibits almost all genetically-altered food (much to the detriment of African farmers working their way out of poverty), where all natural ingredients are a 'must' for their cosmetics, shampoos and lotions, and only organic food will do, seems to have lost regard for the sanctity of human beings.

Human-animal  embryos are being "manufactured" to be used to extract embryonic stem cells despite the fact that embryonic stem cell research to date has been a bust.   
There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells.

Even worse the Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister from the Labour party is a strong advocate, making "shameless use" of his own son who suffers from cystic fibrosis,  as David Warren points out in Down the Slope: 

But using his own son, as his exhibit, he has very emotionally declared that the creation of hybrid animal/human embryos for research purposes is "an inherently moral endeavour, that can save and improve the lives of thousands and over time, millions"

This in turn allows such as his unpleasant public health minister, Dawn Primarolo  to follow the argument through, and accuse those who are morally repelled by animal/human hybrids of actually willing that humans should suffer from incurable diseases. To be plain: emotional blackmail is being compounded with vile slander.

For Gordon Brown was uttering an untruth.  As even the leading "expert" advocate of the government's measures - Lord Robert Winston, the English fertility specialist, politician, and television personality - has admitted, there is no pressing need for animal/human hybrid embryos. He had already said that the loss of the hybrid clause "won't fundamentally alter the science of stem cell biology." The research could perfectly well go on with adult stem cells, to the use of which there is no moral objection. Even the Roman Catholic Church has contributed directly and materially to that research.
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We are most certainly dealing with a moral absolute in this case. Our entire civilization (including all legal codes throughout the western world) depends upon the sharp and unambiguous distinction between what is human, and what is not.
We do not abandon this "front line" without inevitably lapsing into the kind of barbarism of which fascist-era Germany and Japan served as terrible warnings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2008

Death of the Father and 3 parent embryos

British scientists are ready to turn female bone marrow into sperm, cutting men out of the process of creating life resulting in what can only be called Death of the Father.

And if that isn't disturbing enough, other British scientists have created a three parent embryo in a lab
They experimented on 10 severely abnormal embryos left over from traditional fertility treatment.

Within hours of their creation, the nucleus, containing DNA from the mother and father, was removed from the embryo, and implanted into a donor egg whose DNA had been largely removed.

The only genetic information remaining from the donor egg was the tiny bit that controls production of mitochondria - around 16,000 of the 3billion component parts that make up the human genome.

The embryos then began to develop normally, but were destroyed with six days.


One opponent said

Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said it was "risky, dangerous" and a step towards "designer babies"

"It is human beings they are experimenting with," she said.

"We should not be messing around with the building blocks of life."

Mrs Quintavalle said embryo research in the US using DNA from one man and two women was discontinued because of the "huge abnormalities" in some cases.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:38 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2008

Really smart phones

Some good news for those like me who have an occasional nightmare about a radiological dirty bomb set off in an American city.

Cell phone sensors detect radiation to thwart nuclear terrorism

Researchers at Purdue University are working with the state of Indiana to develop a system that would use a network of cell phones to detect and track radiation to help prevent terrorist attacks with radiological "dirty bombs" and nuclear weapons.

Such a system could blanket the nation with millions of cell phones equipped with radiation sensors able to detect even light residues of radioactive material. Because cell phones already contain global positioning locators, the network of phones would serve as a tracking system, said physics professor Ephraim Fischbach.
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Long before the sensors would detect significant radiation, the system would send data to a receiving center.

"The sensors don't really perform the detection task individually," Fischbach said. "The collective action of the sensors, combined with the software analysis, detects the source. The system would transmit signals to a data center, and the data center would transmit information to authorities without alerting the person carrying the phone. Say a car is transporting radioactive material for a bomb, and that car is driving down Meridian Street in Indianapolis or Fifth Avenue in New York. As the car passes people, their cell phones individually would send signals to a command center, allowing authorities to track the source."

The signal grows weaker with increasing distance from the source, and the software is able to use the data from many cell phones to pinpoint the location of the radiation source.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:43 PM | Permalink

November 27, 2007

How Are You Fixed for Spit?

[Author's note. For some reason, this entry can't be published using ECTO, so I'm recreating the post on the Moveable Type interface which is a horror to use. I can't use color, upload the wonderful image I have, see the entire entry or make easy corrections. No wonder so many people are moving over to Wordpress. All I can say is Thank God for Ecto]

As a child, whenever I was scrambling around, asking my mother 'where is my whatever, trying to find all the things I was supposed to take, my mother would ask us, "How are you fixed for spit?"

If I take that spit and send it in a small vial to 23andMe, the first "personal genome service", they will unlock the secrets of my own DNA.

For $1000, 23andme will run a sample through their gene-reading microchip and identify nearly 600,000 data points on my genome.

Amy Harmon gave her spit and found she became addicted to googling her own DNA using 23andMe's "Genome Explorer."

My Genome, Myself, Seeking Clues in DNA

I had spent hours every day doing just that as new studies linking bits of DNA to diseases and aspects of appearance, temperament and behavior came out on an almost daily basis. At times, surfing my genome induced the same shock of recognition that comes when accidentally catching a glimpse of oneself in the mirror.

Nick Carr at the Guardian looks at 23andMe and another genemapping company in Iceland. Google gives new gene mapping service a bit of spit and polish.

He's a little leery of the fact Google owns a big stake of 23andMe and what's more co-founder Sergey Brin is married to 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojciki.

As people spit into the vial and sign up to have their genome read, Google

could end up with a database of extraordinary value to pharmaceutical firms, medical researchers and insurance companies.
.

The privacy statement acknowledges that they will grant outside groups access to their database and allow them to search for correlations between genetic variations and health conditions "without knowing the identities of the individuals involved."

You, however, will be able to connect with others who share your genetic traits in a social network, a sort of DNA Facebook.

Give up your spit and genetically-targeted advertising will follow you all the days of your life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

July 31, 2007

Felony Doctor

I predict this won't be the first.  A doctor with the power of life and death, prescribe the latter

Surgeon charged with trying to hasten patient's death

A San Francisco transplant surgeon was criminally charged Monday with excessively prescribing drugs to a 25-year-old disabled man last year to hasten his death and harvest his organs more quickly.

The felony charges are believed to be the first against a physician for his role in a transplant.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:41 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2007

Good news from GM goats

Using biotechnology, scientists have genetically modified goats to produce milk containing chemicals that protect against deadly nerve agents such as sarin and VX.

Goats make milk to protect from nerve gas.

If the work is successful the drug could be used to protect troops against exposure to nerve agents on battlefields, or stockpiled for use in the event of a chemical weapon attack on a city.

The drug will still have to go through safety trials and gain US government approval.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:30 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 31, 2007

When Boys are Forced to Wear Dresses

Sweden has long been ahead of other countries in exploring new ways to insure diversity, support multiculturalism and gender equality with such vigor that British historian called them The New Totalitarians.

So maybe it's not surprising that young boys in pre-school and kindergarten are sometimes forced to wear dresses and use girls' names.

The noted Swedish blogger Fjordman reports a story by Swedish journalist Todd Lundgren who inveighs against recommendations by the Swedish Teachers' Union for pre-school teachers to promote gender and sexual equality among the very very young.

“A three-year-old doesn’t have to learn queer theory, a four-year-old shouldn’t have to be force-fed lectures on gay sex by some sex freak from the Teachers’ Union. Children are supposed to play and discover their roles entirely on their own. Children are defenseless and shouldn’t be exposed to indoctrination, neither regarding sex nor politics.

When Lundgren received a email threatening to report him to the police for what he had written, Lundgren replied

“To give sex education to preschool children, to force them to have an opinion on gay sex and queer (lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuality, fetishism, cross over, sex change etc.) I regard as abuse of children. (…) Little children, we are talking about three to six-year-olds here, cannot in the preschool protect themselves from these sexual assaults. Their parents are not there, the children are totally left to themselves.

One commenter said
“My 13-year-old son had ‘equality day’ [in school] and had to listen to a transvestite. I have myself never encountered or talked to one during my considerably longer life. Why is this important? Today’s children know nothing about the crimes of Communism, but everything about the sexual orientation of transvestites.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 PM | Permalink

May 19, 2007

Baby Frankensteins

In Britain, it's now okay for fertility clinics to mix human and animal cells together for medical research.

Chimera is the word to describe a being made of the parts of multiple animals, Frankenstein seems to come closer to describe this bastard procedure.  Of course, Frankenstein was the creator, the creature he made he described as 'fiend', 'wretched devil', 'vile insect' and 'abhorred monster.'

Supposedly, the human-animal embryos will help medical research which seems to be the rationale that trumps all objections. 

Artist Patricia Piccini envisons such a mix

 Human Animal Family Mix

UPDATE: The view from Rome:

"The creation of a hybrid animal-human embryo has been banned by everyone in the biotechnology field, until now -- and not just by religious groups," Bishop Sgreccia said. "This is because human dignity is compromised and offended and monstrosities will be created from these inseminations.
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Bishop Sgreccia said he hopes that the international scientific community continues to hold the line, to defend "the conservation and respect of the species."
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"The fact is that there was no reason to do this. If they are looking for stem cells in order to cure Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, there is no need to create a hybrid animal-human embryo, because there are adult stem cells, and stem cells in umbilical cords and those in the adult male to be able to battle these frontiers in faith."

"The scientist who is only worried about advancing his research does not take into consideration the anthropological and philosophical factors, like respect for nature and the natural order.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 29, 2007

Bachelor Hordes, Bare Branches in China

Chinese men without marriage prospects are called "bare branches."  They're bare because of the millions of missing women.

Beijing's bachelor bulge: the unprecedented surplus of boys.

“I'm really eager to have a wife, but it is very hard to find one here,” Mr. Liu says. “I am too old and too poor. I'm just counting the days without desires.”
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In the past, "bachelor hordes" gave rise to political uprisings that lead to wars.
Scholars have pointed to the Nien Rebellion in northern China in the 1850s. After a series of failed harvests, the local inhabitants adopted a policy of infanticide, and eventually 25 per cent of the men were unable to marry because of a shortage of women. About 100,000 unmarried men formed bandit gangs, which merged into armies that tried to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in a war that lasted for years.

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Many experts predict that the growing surplus of unmarried men will cause an increase in violence, rape, prostitution, crime and the illegal trafficking of women. “The large number of unmarried men will disrupt the normal continuity of human reproduction,” said Zhan Changzhi, a sociologist at Hainan University, in an interview with a Chinese newspaper.

“The population will decrease,” he said. “Huge numbers of single men will suffer from sexual starvation. Many mental disorders will be caused because they cannot enjoy a normal family life and sexual life. Many of them will become criminals. And the trend will damage the economy, since the single men will have no strong desire to improve their economic condition. They'll stay at home and do nothing, and their human resource will be wasted. This is a very severe problem.”

Yet, activists who protest the brutality of forced abortion are kidnapped.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:35 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2007

When a bad hair day can land you in jail

The Business of Life for women in Iran is getting harder every day.

We worry about bad hair days; they worry about stray locks that might land them in jail.

Imagine walking down the street when a police car stops and arrests you for not wearing your veil properly.  You're detained and forced to undergo psychological counseling.

Gateway Pundit has posted a shocking video of such a woman pulled off the streets and into a police car.  She didn't go without fighting back.

 Iranian Woman Improper Veil

Some 150,000 women have already been arrested or detained because they haven't complied with the strict, new Islamic dress codes.

It's the toughest crackdown in 20 years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

All female conception

The prospect of all-female conception

The results also raise the prospect of being able to take bone-marrow tissue from women and coaxing the stem cells within the female tissue to develop into sperm cell,..

Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters because the Y chromosome of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons...

"Theoretically is it possible," Professor Nayernia said. "The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don't think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it's safe. We are in the process of applying for ethical approval.

Which brings to mind that old feminist slogan  "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." which I always considered a gratuitous form of male-bashing that I've always considered mindless and stupid.

  Woman Bicycle

Interestingly, bicycles were considered a symbol of female emancipation, a "freedom machine" for women.  Susan B. Anthony said in an interview in 1896,

"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood."

She had no idea what "untrammelled womanhood" could be, 120 years later.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:08 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2007

Another twist on alimony

Another case in uncharted legal territory.  If a man couldn't marry a man in Florida, does a divorced husband have to pay alimony to his former wife if she undergoes a sex-change operation?

Ex-wife becomes a man; ex-husband seeks to end alimony.

I'm betting the ex-wife will win.  Sanctity of contracts and all.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

Lawsuit against clinic that used wrong sperm

NY Judge rules Lawsuit against the clinic that used the wrong sperm can proceed.

The couple says that they have been forced to raise a child who is "not even the same race, nationality, color ... as they are," the judge said in the ruling.
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The judge quoted the couple as saying that after their daughter, Jessica, was born Oct. 19, 2004, they knew something was wrong because of her physical appearance.

They say that "while we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her; it is simply impossible to ignore," the judge's decision said.

But what are they going to say to their daughter when she is older?  That she is a "terrible mistake?"    There are a lot of lawsuits that should never be filed.  Even though they have been "wronged",  money damages will never right it, while the lawsuit itself will have incalculable damage on the child later on in life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Gay Babies

The mind reels at the following:

If homosexuality is biologically determined and a genetic marker is found, will gays protest against women aborting "gay" fetuses? 

Would they prefer pregnant women wearing a patch to eradicate her fetus's natural gayness?

The Problem, in a Fundamental Nutshell: "Is Your Baby Gay."

One thing is for certain.  Our society is unprepared and unequipped to deal with the biogenetic revolution.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 6, 2007

The Rice with Human Genes

The Rice with human genes.

The first GM food crop containing human genes is set to be approved for commercial production.

The laboratory-created rice produces some of the human proteins found in breast milk and saliva.

Its U.S. developers say they could be used to treat children with diarrhoea, a major killer in the Third World.

The rice is a major step in so-called Frankenstein Foods, the first mingling of human-origin genes and those from plants. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already signalled it plans to allow commercial cultivation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

March 4, 2007

Termite Guts

Lots of interesting ways to harness, save and generate energy have captured my attention recently.

The Wall St Journal points out some in While You're at it, Why not Generate a Little Electricity

Like using the stairmasters and treadmills at the health club to generate electricity  for the lights or flooring materials in subways to generate electricty from the throngs of people walking into subway tunnels and  backpacks that generate electricity from the jiggling motion of walking.

There's news from the Science Foundation where they've found that using corncob waste to create carbon briquettes may be the way to store natural gas in clean-burning cars given that they can store 180 times their own  volume at one seventh the pressure of conventional natural gas tank.

Now there's a prototype of a pee-powered battery, one that runs on a drop of urine and produces 1.5 volts of electric power (same as AA batteries) for about 90 minutes.

But my favorite is  Termite Guts Can Save the Planet.
Termite guts take indigestible cellulose, which makes up the bulk of all plant material grown on earth, and convert it to ethanol, which even today is a versatile and popular fuel.

Nobel laureate Steven Chu is kick-starting the effort at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs.
If scientists can convert cellulose into liquid fuels like ethanol, the world's energy supply and storage problems could both be solved at a stroke.

This is where the termite guts come in. A billion years of evolution have produced a highly efficient factory for turning cellulose into ethanol, unlike anything which humans can yet design
.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2007

Millions of "Missing Women" Lead to Social Instability

As many as 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years according to a study in Lancet, the British medical journal.

India's lost daughters: Abortion toll in millions.

You can point to the cultural preference for males to secure a heir, the cost of raising a daughter who will eventually belong to her husband's family, and the very expensive cost of a dowry.

Yet, before ultrasound allowed the prenatal determination of sex, abortions were rare.

We are beginning to see the social costs of skewed gender ratios in China where the one-child policy has resulted in an estimated 40 million bachelors who can not find wives.  It's not pretty.

One Chinese official said in Facing the Future with 40 million bachelors
China faces a future of crime and instability as a generation of 40 million men is left frustrated by a lack of brides, thanks to the practice of selective abortion of female foetuses, a population official has warned.

Men left on the shelf would resort to prostitutes or pay huge prices for brides, while trafficking in women and girls kidnapped from rural areas and other countries would increase.
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"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation's population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution."

A UN official said the shortage of woman is creating a "huge societal issue", one of the three biggest challenges facing China along with HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation.

Young males who can't find wives are "low status" and prone to improve their situation through violent and criminal behavior.
The growing crime rate in China which is being linked to China's massive "floating" or transient population, some 80 million of which are low-status males

China is beginning to promote the Girl Care Project  while India plans to set up a series of orphanages to raise unwanted baby girls.

India To Raise Girls in Bid to Slow Abortions

Here in America, our culture has profoundly changed in the past 25 years.  The psychoanalyst Shrinkwrapped writes about the psychic costs on individuals and society in Reverberations and Vicissitudes of Abortion.

Part 1  Introduction
Part 2  Mothers and Fathers: When Does Life Begin?
Part 3  Children of Choice
The idea that  your parents have parents decided to abort a potential sibling is a significant issue, made more so when done in a perfunctory manner as a matter of course. Such a "choice" unavoidably conveys the message that a child’s life is hostage to the parent’s desires.
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Children who experience themselves as commodities whose existence serves the needs of others, have a natural tendency to treat themselves and others as mere "need satisfying objects."

To realize just how far we've come, read Katherine in the comments to Part 3.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 16, 2007

Kaiser Permanente - Mother of Medical Databases

Medpundit brings us the news of Kaiser Permanente's plan to put together the mother of all databases to study the interplay of genetics, environmental factors and common diseases.

First step  - detailed surveys to its 2 million adult members.
Second step - donated genetic material from same.
Third step - combine with their medical history records.

Mother of All HMOs

Like all blessings this seems mixed.  Information good, voluntary participation good, insurance company that sets premiums - well what do you think?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 29, 2007

"Cruel and good fate brought us together"

When Kevin Cohen, 20, was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in 2002, he was single, although he dreamed of a family some day.

His parents sued to gain access to his sperm, a sample of which had been taken 2 hours after his death, because they wanted to continue their bloodline into the future.  They wanted a grandchild even if the hospital said only a spouse could have access to the dead man's sperm.

Four years later, an Israeli court ruled that his family can have his sperm impregnated into the body of a woman he never met.

Family Gets OK to Use Dead Man's Sperm.

... soldiers increasingly have been leaving sperm samples, or explicit instructions on post-mortem extraction, before heading to battle.
She said she knew of more than 100 cases of Israeli soldiers who, before last summer's war with Lebanese guerillas, asked to have their sperm saved if they were killed. American soldiers have also begun donating sperm before heading to Iraq, she said.

"I think it is a human revolution," Rosenblum said. "Ten years ago, who would believe that a human being can continue after he has died. I think it is great for humanity."

Rosenblum said the woman who is to act as surrogate mother has requested to remain anonymous.

"She's like family to us," Rachel Cohen told the Tribune. "Cruel and good fate brought us together."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:33 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 24, 2007

Keeping Dad Alive

Would you donate half of your liver to keep your father alive?

What if your father were an alcoholic?

What if you had a difficult relationship with him?

Mark Foster faced all these questions and more in The High Price of Keeping Dad Alive (Wall St Journal)


The decision to surrender a piece of a liver can be an affirmation of love and selflessness. As Mark Foster and his parents discovered, it also can be an agonizing choice for the donor and recipient, one that forces families to confront tensions they might have preferred remain dormant.
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For decades, almost all organs used in transplants came from deceased donors. But as the operations have become more routine, the number of available organs is falling far short of demand. As a result, living donations have tripled in the past decade to about 7,000 a year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees transplants in the U.S.


Liver donations make up more than 300 of that number, with a close relative the typical beneficiary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:17 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 19, 2007

Straight, decent and steadfast.

Tom Brokaw found the World War II generation astonishingly straight, decent and steadfast.    A lot of it had to do with the way they were brought up and the culture in which they lived.

Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of the Australian, sends off his father and looks at the life of John Sheridan, an ordinary, extraordinary man of his generation.

It is an intense paradox of our situation that people of my father's generation were routinely much better educated than people today. You couldn't go through the Christian Brothers in those days without reading the great books, learning of the great music and studying the great history. Today we have a surfeit of information points and a dearth of education, a flood of trivial information and a lack of knowledge of who we are or where we come from.

My father tried twice to enlist in World War II but was knocked back on medical grounds both times. But he always did the right thing. Except on occasion of grave illness, he never missed Sunday mass in his entire life. One wife, one family, one profession, one religious faith, one house, his sons at the same school as him: a life as unfashionable in its limits and commitments as anything could be today. And yet a life within those self-imposed limits and commitments of vast, imaginative richness.
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His son is a baby boomer. My father came from much the better generation, and was much the better man.

The best of a generation via Tim Blair.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 AM | Permalink

January 16, 2007

Information about you is everywhere

Mountains of data are rising with the costs of digital storage so cheap.

Enjoying Technology's Conveniences, But Not Escaping Its Watchful Eyes

In just one day, Bernard paid eight tolls electronically. She used her credit card four times and sent 20 e-mails. She passed before security cameras at least 50 times.

"Amazing," she said in a follow-up interview. "It's astounding to think that my whereabouts and activities can be tracked by any number of companies and individuals."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:46 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 15, 2007

Improving as a Species

With all the anxiety and sense of foreboding at loose in the world,  it's refreshing to look back and see how far we've come.

Believe it or not,  we're improving as a species.

Appreciating Our Moral and Mental Development by Arnold Kling.

"In 16th century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted on a stage and was slowly lowered into a fire. According to the historian Norman Davies, "the spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized."

As horrific as present-day events are, such sadism would be unthinkable today in most of the world. This is just one example of the most important and under appreciated trend in the history of our species: the decline of violence."
-- Steven Pinker
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In reality, the human race is changing. The physical improvements in humans have been emphasized by Robert Fogel in The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death. He coined the term "technophysio evolution" to describe the phenomenon. He points out, for example, that people have become so much larger and active over the past three hundred years that today's human could not survive on the diet of our recent ancestors.

I would argue that the increases in human longevity, size, and health have been paralleled by increases in cognitive and moral reasoning. One of the most dramatic illustrations of the cognitive improvement is the Flynn Effect, which demonstrates that average IQ has been rising steadily in many countries for most of this century. Average IQ's in Britain may be more than two standard deviations higher than they were a hundred years ago, which says that the average citizen today would have been in the top 5 percent of intelligence early in the 20th century.
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On the other hand, there is also plenty of evidence that is inconsistent with moral improvement. Examples that come to mind include vulgarity and violence portrayed in movies and video games. Clearly, the abuse of civilians by terrorists is not a sign of moral improvement.

Still, I suspect that if one could examine every human interaction and attach a measure of the moral reasoning involved in that interaction, the average moral "score" would be rising. To put it another way, I would conjecture that on average we see a higher proportion of interactions that follow the Golden Rule today than we did 20 years ago, which in turn is higher than the proportion 50 years ago, and so on.

Robert Godwin, aka Gagdad Bob  thinks along the same lines.

my belief that humans have actually continued evolving over the centuries, and that most people and cultures were impossibly cruel, barbaric, and frankly crazy by today's standards. This is an unpopular notion because it doesn't appeal to either traditionalists on the right or contemporary liberals on the left. Traditionalists don't like it because it seems contrary to the idea that human beings were created by God with an unchanging nature: a man is a man is a man, whether 2500 years ago or today. And liberals don't like it for reasons of multiculturalism and moral relativism.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:25 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 12, 2007

Virtual Family Dinner

  Virtual Family Dinner

Technology to serve up virtual family dinners for elderly, caregivers.

It sounds like a pretty good idea

The technology consulting company Accenture is developing a system called "The Virtual Family Dinner" that would allow families to get together — virtually — as often as they'd like.

The concept is simple. An elderly woman in, say, California, makes herself dinner. When she gets ready to sit down and eat, the system detects it and alerts her son in Chicago. The son then goes to his kitchen, where a small camera and microphone capture what he is doing. Speakers and a screen — as big as a television or as small as a picture frame — allow him to hear and see his mother, who has a similar setup.

"We are trying to really bring back the kind of family interactions we used to take for granted," said Dadong Wan, a senior researcher in Accenture Ltd.'s Chicago labs.
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"To physically eat with others, to be able to do that, there are not only social benefits, but health benefits," said Dr. Julie Locher, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, who specializes in eating issues among older people.
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When a prototype becomes available, possibly in about two years, it likely will cost $500 to $1,000 per household

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 11, 2007

Asperger's - Stupid and Smart at Same Time

"The problem with Asperger's," she says, "is you're stupid and smart at the same time."


"I feel people's eyes are always saying something," she says. "It's very intense for one thing, so it's overwhelming. The other thing is I don't know what they're saying."

Nomi Kaim tells the Boston Globe that living with Asperger's syndrome means taking everything one step at a time.

'I didn't know where people like me were'


Kaim's brain is wired differently from most people's. She has Asperger's syndrome, a mild autism recognized as a disorder only since 1994. Those with Asperger's are verbal and as intelligent or more intelligent than average individuals . They have problems processing the myriad cues around them -- trouble understanding social situations and communicating in social settings, trouble distinguishing what's important from what's not, trouble with sensory overload or understimulation, trouble organizing their lives, trouble, as the saying goes, seeing the forest for the trees.
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Kaim is 23, fast-talking and slow-walking, smart and curious, serious and self-absorbed, bad at multi-tasking and good at pouring herself into whatever she does. She's uncomfortable socially and comfortable, when not depressed, with solitude. She craves structure and resists uncertainty. She longs for human connection but cringes at being touched and balks at the reciprocity of friendship

1 in 500 have Asperger's according to the Asperger's Association and the numbers are growing.

From eMedicine
Individuals with Asperger disorder have normal or even superior intelligence, and they may make great intellectual contributions, while demonstrating social insensitivity or even apparent indifference toward loved ones. Published case reports of men with Asperger disorder suggest an association with the capacity to accomplish cutting-edge research in computer science, mathematics, and physics. .... Persons with Asperger disorder have exhibited outstanding skills in mathematics, music, and computer sciences. Many are highly creative, and many prominent individuals demonstrate traits suggesting Asperger syndrome.

The Assistant Village Idiot has put his finger on something I couldn't articulate when I wrote  Radical Life Extension about Joel Garreau's book on Radical Evolution.    I was extremely discomfited at the way Ray Kurzweil talked about extending the human life span to 140.  It gave me the creeps.

In Your New Masters Will Have Asperger's , AVI writes about the rigid and childish assumptions exhibited by Ray Kurzwei and others like him that all new technology will be good, bringing us a Heaven on earth.  But such men lack the width and breadth of human experience or apparently recourse to any religious or philosophical thought and so they have  trouble understanding the implications for society as a whole.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 4, 2007

Rescued Embryos from Katrina

In the chaotic aftermath of Katrina,  3 state troopers and 7 Illinois conservation officers, using flat-bottomed boats, rescued nitrogen tanks filled with 1400 embryos from a sweltering hospital.

On January 16th, Rebekah  Markham will give birth to one of them, nine months after being implanted with one of the rescued embryos.

UPDATE: It's a boy!  Noah Benton Markham.
Named after the most famous flood survivor of all

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 29, 2006

My favorites of the Fifty

From Fifty Things We Know Now (That We Didn't Know This Time Last Year), these are my favorites

The part of the brain that regulates reasoning, impulse control and judgment is still under construction during puberty and doesn't shift into autopilot until about age 25.

Blue light fends off drowsiness in the middle of the night, which could be useful to people who work at night.

Scientists have discovered that certain brain chemicals in our tears are natural pain relievers.

Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp.

Red wine contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that stave off diseases affecting the gums and bone around the teeth.

A substance called resveratrol, also found in red wine, protects mice from obesity and the effects of aging, and perhaps could do the same for humans.

Women gain weight when they move in with a boyfriend because their diet deteriorates, but men begin to eat more healthy food when they set up a home with a female partner.

DNA analysis determined the British descended from a tribe of Spanish fishermen who crossed the Bay of Biscay almost 6,000 years ago.

One of the most effective ways for athletes to recover after exercise is to drink a glass of chocolate milk.

Researchers from the University of Manchester managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens - activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 19, 2006

More Genetic Bewilderment

Katrina Clark's story, My Father Was An Anonymous Sperm Donor, broke my heart.

...a whole other part of me was a mystery.  That part came from my father. The only thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never seen a picture of him. I didn't know his name. My mother never talked about him -- because she didn't have a clue who he was.
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I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place.

Never did think of the children mean so much.   

When did adults' rights to have children trump the needs of the children?

We have jumped into this brave new world with little thought of the consequences.  Now, we are seeing the results.  Some women are buying sperm online and exploring made-to-order embryos.   

The donors aren't off the hook like they once thought.  Some are facing  compulsory child support for the donor,    Buffalogirl who blogs at Whosedaughter? reminds us that one person's DNA is another person's 'dad'.    Donor-conceived children demand the right to search for their biological fathers much as adopted children do.

What is sure is that such children will be genetically bewildered with a "life debt" leaving them feeling confused, alienated and 'experimental' with little understanding of what a real family is.

This is the future being created before our eyes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

December 14, 2006

More on cow flatulence

Why do I say more? 

Because I told my own story about cow flatulence in Five Things You Don't Know About Me over at Legacy Matters but no way could I ever be as funny as James Lileks even if "cow-whiffs"  - our family's term for passing gas - always struck me as hilarious.

 Cows Among Us-1

We have met the enemy and it mooos

Apparently the beasts of the field do nothing but wander around all day asking their brethren to "pull my hoof." Every time a cow feels a small sense of relief, a polar bear goes through the ice.

Or will, eventually. So livestock give off more greenhouse gases than cars. Eliminate the internal combustion problem, and you'd still have to deal with numberless tons of ruminant redolence floating into Gaia's celestial nostrils. We're off the hook: If global warming is organic, doesn't that make it OK?

That follows the UN Report from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) calling Livestock a major threat to the environment. contributing more to greenhouse emissions than all transportation combined.

The BBC reports that

Gas emissions from flatulent cows could soon be restricted by a EU quota system as penal as that imposed on milk production, an agricultural expert has predicted.

Cows again.  It's all about the gassy bossies. 

Flatulence and belching by cows derive from a process known as enteric fermentation which leads to a build up of methane gas in the guts of these animals, pressure which is relieved by emission.

If flatulence can ground an airplane, we can all thank God that cows don't fly.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 13, 2006

Harvesting Live Babies?

I didn't know that the Ukraine was the stem cell capital of the world, maybe even harvesting live babies to keep its top spot.

The BBC reports that healthy new-born babies may have been killed to feed a flourishing trade in stem cells.

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe
The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff.
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One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.

In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate.

The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped - and some bodies dismembered.

Horrific.

Update.  Not just for stem cells, for beauty treatments as well

The babies who are murdered to order

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:40 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 11, 2006

A generation is all they need

Will we all be happily implanted with microchips in the future where our every move is monitored?

Kevin Haggerty writes in the Toronto Star that the technology exists; the only barrier is society's resistance to the loss of privacy.

Most people anticipate such a prospect with a sense of horrified disbelief, dismissing it as a science-fiction fantasy. The technology, however, already exists. For years humane societies have implanted all the pets that leave their premises with a small identifying microchip. As well, millions of consumer goods are now traced with tiny radio frequency identification chips that allow satellites to reveal their exact location.

A select group of people are already "chipped" with devices that automatically open doors, turn on lights, and perform other low-level miracles. Prominent among such individuals is researcher Kevin Warwick of Reading University in England; Warwick is a leading proponent of the almost limitless potential uses for such chips.

It will start in distant countries, criminals first, then terrorists, then carriers of contagious diseases.  How soon after that before other groups, say for example, ethnic groups.

What might Hitler, Mao or Milosevic have accomplished if their citizens were chipped, coded, and remotely monitored?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 7, 2006

Adults rights to children vs. children's needs

Miss Kelley has a fine discussion on Kids, Marriage, Mothers and Fathers, Wealth and Poverty wherein she quotes

First, Claudia Anderson writes at The Weekly Standard about a report produced by the Commission on Parenthood's Future, an independent, nonpartisan group of scholars and leaders.  From the report:

“The two-person mother-father model of parenthood is being changed to meet adults’ rights to children rather than children’s needs to know and be raised, whenever possible, by their mother and father,” according to the report, The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children’s Needs."

then Kal Hymowitz who has written that the marriage gap is increasingly responsible for the growing divide between economic classes.

When the mass consumer culture is so sexualized  and the chastity of young women not only devalued but derided, it's only a few wrong steps and they're trapped in the culture of poverty where having children without a husband is a rite of passage.

Last quote from Miss Kelley - 

The Brookings Institute has determined that if people 1) graduate from high school, 2) get married, 3) don't have kids until after they're married, and 4) have small families, they're virtually guaranteed to avoid poverty.  I don't know how we shift ourselves back to committing to marriage and bringing back a social stigma to single parenting, but we need to swing that pendulum back. 

A young blogger, donor-conceived, writes about the psychological and emotional anguish young adults like her experience as they try to craft their adult identities.  Whosedaughter? does not look kindly on adults who try to re-engineer the family.  In this post she quotes a Canadian ethicist Margaret Somerville

Evidence is starting to come in: “Donor conceived adults” describe powerful feelings of loss of identity through not knowing one or both biological parents and their wider biological families, and describe themselves as “genetic orphans”. They believe society was complicit in a serious wrong done to them in the way they were conceived and ask, “How could anyone think they had the right to do this to me?”

We now need to recognise in law what, traditionally, we have simply assumed: that children’s fundamental human rights include knowing who their biological parents are and if at all possible being reared by them, and being conceived with a natural biological heritage – untampered with biological origins – in particular, a right to be conceived from an untampered-with-sperm from one, living, adult, identified man and an untampered-with-ovum from one, living, adult, identified woman.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:09 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

What countries sell their women?

Spengler on Jihadis and whores.

Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to fight. A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women.

It's not just Europe that has a plummeting birth rate, so does Iran.

As the most urbane people of Western Asia, the Persians grasped the hopelessness of circumstances quicker than their Arab neighbors. That is why they have ceased to bear children. Iran's population today is concentrated at military age; by mid-century, today's soldiers will be pensioners, and there will be no one to replace them.
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it is one thing to read the statistics, and quite another to consider the millions of intimate decisions that together sum up to national suicide.
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What is it that persuades women to employ their bodies as an instrument of commerce, rather than as a way of achieving motherhood? It is not just poverty, for poor women bear children everywhere. In the case of Iran, deracination and cultural despair impel millions of individual women to eschew motherhood. Prostitution is a form of psychic suicide; writ large, it is a manifestation of the national death-wish...
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The proliferation of Iranian prostitutes in Western Europe as well as the Arab world helps explain the country's population trends.
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Ot is hard to obtain reliable data on prostitution inside Iran itself, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it has increased since Ahmadinejad became president last year. Anti-regime sociologists claim that at least 300,000 women are whoring in Tehran alone.
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Along with Albanian, Chechen and Bosnian women, Iranian prostitutes are living evidence of the dissolution of the traditional Muslim society that purports to shield women from degradation.

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Islamist radicals (like the penny-a-marriage mullahs of Iran) are the world's most prolific pimps. The same networks that move female flesh across borders also provide illegal passage for jihadis, and the proceeds of human trafficking often support Islamist terrorists......The Persian prostitute is the camp follower of the jihadi, joined to him in a pact of national suicide.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 19, 2006

China Admits to Organ Tourism

Foreign tourists who pay more that native Chinese are given preference for organ transplants with the vast majority of organs coming from executed prisoners. 

China Admits to Organ Tourism

This week, at a summit for transplant doctors held in Guangzhou, the once-denied practice was confirmed by government officials.

"Apart from a small portion of traffic victims, most of the organs from cadavers are from executed prisoners," said Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu, according to English-language China Daily newspaper. "The current organ donation shortfall can't meet demand."

Do the recipients understand cellular memory?

It is not uncommon for memories, behaviors, preferences and habits associated with the donor to be transferred to the recipient along with the transplanted organ.

Organ transplants and cellular memories.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:14 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 13, 2006

Anti-adulthood

Madeline Bunting writes a provocative column on "anti-adulthood", the latest and pernicious way of marketing to children.

She argued that marketing to children has boomed over the past decade, and its content has been characterised by anti-adultism. Cool is of the ultimate symbolic importance, and what is cool is usually anti-adult, oppositional, rebellious. Adults are never cool - they are boring, often absurd, sometimes stupid - and when they try to be cool they are pathetic. Even popular cartoons such as Rugrats are aping the format. The universe conjured up is one of "kids rule", in which children are "empowered into an adult-free space".
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Why listen to your parents when they are so uncool? Meanwhile, for the child the evidence of failing, frustrated parents gives the cruel edge of experience to those lighthearted comedy sketches of incompetent adults.

Even more worrying, the experience instils in children a powerful uncertainty about whether adulthood is a desirable state to achieve at all.
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the much more important question is the state of adulthood. Why are parents of this generation so uncomfortable about projecting the kind of authoritative certainty of adulthood with which many of us grew up, and against which we framed our own sense of identity?
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We need to be able to answer the question of what is successful adulthood

HT Normblog.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 8, 2006

Report from the Future

Now that gender has become a personal choice in New York, can height be far behind? 

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanen

While in England, scientists have applied for permission to create chimera embryos, to be more specific  human-cow embryos.

Calum MacKellar, from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, said the research undermined the distinction between animals and humans.

He said: "In the history of humankind, animals and human species have been separated.

"In this kind of procedure, you are mixing at a very intimate level animal eggs and human chromosomes, and you may begin to undermine the whole distinction between humans and animals.

"If that happens, it might also undermine human dignity and human rights."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 6, 2006

He plotted to kill thousands

  Dhiren Barot

Remember that terrorist plot to blow up 10 airplanes over the Atlantic as well as London landmarks that was aborted by brilliant police work this summer? 

Dhiren Barot, a Hindu who converted to Islam,  plotted to kill thousands,  pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.  The details of his plans are now being revealed in a London court. Al Qaeda Briton 'plotted to kill thousands'.

Barot expected the devastation and loss of life to match 9/11 and the Madrid bombs, the court heard.

The attacks would have been coordinated in a series of back-to-back explosions with further strikes on landmark buildings in Washington, New York and Newark, New Jersey.

Barot costed every aspect of the terrorist outrages, then travelled to Pakistan to present them to al Qaeda bosses "like a business plan", the court was told.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Microsoft Previews Gears at Cemetery

I have no doubt that a number of people at Microsoft thought it was a terrific idea to hold a preview at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery,  for their newest video game, Gears which is apparently so violent that even its maker calls it 'horrific'.    I think both the preview and the game sounds appalling.

"Gears," which puts you in the role of a grizzled soldier fighting off alien invaders, has tantalized gamers with graphically realistic faces, explosions and blood.

The game carries an "M" rating, meaning it is for "mature" gamers aged 17 years and older.
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Attendees at a "Gears" preview party held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery last week were eager to try the game.

"It's gorgeous, isn't it?" one gamer remarked as another pumped bullets into a dead body dangling from a chain.

"Gears" doesn't so much incorporate violence as revel in it.

A chainsaw mounted on your rifle quickly fillets enemies amid fountains of gore, and when an enemy goes down in a hail of hot lead, you can finish him off with a gruesome move the designers gleefully call the "curb stomp."

"It's pretty graphic because it's not just visually that you understand a head is being stepped on and squashed like a watermelon, you also hear it as well," said Dan Hsu, editor-in-chief of "Electronic Gaming Monthly."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 4, 2006

Nazi "baby farm" children meet after 60+ years.

A living tragedy of an insane idea of racial purity, Secret Nazi 'baby farm' children meet.

Children born on Nazi baby farms who were intended to be the germseed for Hitler's Ayran master race are meeting in public to break a taboo that has lasted more than 60 years.

They are the product of the Lebensborn programme of the S.S., the 'Fountain of Life' scheme that turned racially and idealogically pure S.S. men into studs and blonde, blue-eyed single girls into child-rearing machines for the Fuehrer.

Thousands of such children were born in Lebensborn camps across Europe. They were immediately seperated from their mothers to be brought up in homes where the only religion was Nazism and qualities like mercy and kindness were frowned upon.

Hitler and his S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler believed they were creating a superrace: instead the lack of affection and poor education besides Nazi indoctrination led many to be educationally backward and emotionally crippled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

The Family Tree Becomes the Beanpole

Via the Wills, Trusts & Estates Blog

The Boom in Great Grandparents

Whatever the number of great-grandparents, demographers agree that American family trees today often resemble a beanpole: thin (because there are fewer children in each generation) and long (because there are more living generations).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Young disabled girl 'kept small'

The ethical dilemmas in caring for children with profound developmental disabilities in this brave new world are new and unparalleled.    I've never heard of such treatment, yet, it makes sense.

Young disabled girl 'kept small'.


In a report published in a medical journal this month, the doctors described a six-year-old girl with profound, irreversible developmental disability who was given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth so that her parents could continue to care for her at home.

The controversial growth-attenuation treatment, which included hysterectomy, was requested by the child's parents and initiated after careful consultation and review by an ethics committee.
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For children with severe combined neurologic and cognitive impairment who are unable to move without assistance, all the necessities of life – dressing, bathing, transporting – must be provided by caregivers, usually parents, and these tasks become increasing difficult, if not impossible, as the child increases in size.

"Achieving permanent growth attenuation while the child is still young and of manageable size would remove one of the major obstacles to family care and might extend the time that parents with the ability, resources, and inclination to care for their child at home might be able to do so," the doctors wrote.

The parents of the six-year-old, both of whom were university-educated professionals, indicated a strong desire to continue caring for their daughter.

Despite having the neurologic development no greater than that of an infant, the six-year-old responded to her parents and two healthy siblings – vocalising and smiling in response to care and affection – and "clearly is an integral, and much loved, member of the family," the authors said.

After extensive evaluation, the combined opinion of a team of specialists was that the child would have no significant neurologic or cognitive improvements.

The onset of puberty and continued growth caused concern in the parents about how they would care for their daughter long-term, which they clearly wanted to do.

They were concerned about having to turn over care to "strangers" and also about the complications that would arise when the child started menstruating.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 31, 2006

Suicide states

This is the scariest article I've read in a while and it seems to me, I've read a lot of them.

Suicide superpower.  Martyrdom as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Iranian willingness to accept nuclear retaliation against itself as a form of martyrdom -or, if that willingness is not actually present, other countries’ belief that it is-will allow Tehran to use the implicit threat of a suicidal first strike to get its way:

We are prepared to nuke you first even though you are certain to respond by nuking us. You, in contrast, are not prepared to nuke us first because we are certain to respond by nuking you. Therefore we need only to possess the ability to nuke you in order to induce you to bend to our will.

The prospect of an Iran that can wield nuclear strategic power without having to launch a single missile, though not as spectacular as the Ahmadinejad-as-All-Four-Horsemen-of-the-Apocalypse scenario, is daunting. The distance from Iran to Saudi Arabia, between which lies Shi’a-populated, oil-endowed southern Iraq, is less than 200 miles. Saudi Arabia’s oilfields are in its Eastern Province, much of whose populace are Shi’ites, who are suppressed by, and hostile to, the House of Saud. The goal of Tehran’s nuclear weapons program is to enable Iran to attain hegemony over the entire littoral of the very aptly named Persian Gulf and, by exercising control of virtually all of the Mideast’s oil reserves, become a global power.

Or die trying.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

Sex Trafficking in San Francisco

Meredith May has conducted over 100 interviews to write a 4-part series in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sex Trafficking.  It's an eye-opening series revealing how common sex trafficking is in the United States.

I was especially appalled to learn that most traffickers are usually women who earn the naive trust of their victims and smuggle the unsuspecting girls across the border from Canada or Mexico, often to be beaten, raped and starved.   

Many of San Francisco's Asian massage parlors -- long an established part of the city's sexually permissive culture -- have degenerated into something much more sinister: international sex slave shops.

Once limited to infamous locales such as Bombay and Bangkok, sex trafficking is now an $8 billion international business, with San Francisco among its largest commercial centers.

San Francisco's liberal attitude toward sex, the city's history of arresting prostitutes instead of pimps, and its large immigrant population have made it one of the top American cities for international sex traffickers to do business undetected, according to Donna Hughes, a national expert on sex trafficking at the University of Rhode Island.

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Relying on research from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department estimates there are 14,500 to 17,500 human trafficking victims brought into the United States each year -- but does not quantify how many of those are sex victims. Some advocacy groups place the number of U.S. victims much higher, while others criticize the government for overstating the problem.
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"Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar business. In terms of profits, it's on a path to overtake drug and arms trafficking," said Barry Tang, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement attache with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in South Korea. "There's a highly organized logistical network between Korea and the United States with recruiters, brokers, intermediaries, taxi drivers and madams."
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"The number of Asian massage parlors has doubled in San Francisco in the last two years," said Capt. Tim Hettrich of the San Francisco police vice unit. "Profits are huge. I have nine people working on this. I need three times that many to keep up."

The victims are too afraid of the traffickers to co-operate with the police.

Part 2 is about You MI whose credit card debt led her into sexual slavery in San Francisco.

To traffickers, 22-year-old You Mi was the perfect victim: a small-town girl in financial trouble. She gave her trust, and in return her life went horribly wrong, terribly fast.

Part 3 and Part 4 continues the story of You Mi and her escape.  Thanks to a lawyer specializing in human trafficking, she  eventually received a T-1 visa created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

With a law already on the books and the human trafficking moving to the suburbs,  there's not much you can do but report suspicious activity to the police.

For You Mi, her time as a sex slave has left a permanent bruise on her soul....."Most customers come into a massage parlor thinking nothing is wrong; that it's a job we choose," she said. "It doesn't occur to them that we are slaves."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:53 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

Embryonic stem cell research a bust

Mary Davenport, a doctor reports in the American Thinker

The plain fact is that embryonic stem cell research is proving to be a bust. There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells.  Scientifically-minded readers can review this medical journal article on the status of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapies are already being advertised and promoted while no such treatments are even remotely in prospect for embryonic stem cell research.

Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patients

Using adult stem cells - 72
Using embryonic stem cells  - 0

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:42 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

Embryonic vs Adult Stem Cells for Parkinson's

Injecting human embryonic stem cells into the brains of Parkinson's disease patients may cause tumors to form reports US researchers in the journal Nature Medicine.

The Anchoress who is keeping closer watch on this than I reports that earlier the injection of embryonic stem cells into the brains of Parkinson's patients were a nightmarish experimentation gone bad.
At the same time, the injection of adult stem cells has shown considerable success with Parkinson's patients.

Michael J Fox fighting for bad science.

Why the difference?  The Anchoress speculates

That research…made me believe that Embryonic stem cells are like uncut heroin…waaaay, way to powerful to use - they are part of begotten life in its purest form (perhaps still too near to God for our fooling with) - and they are so maleable as to be (so far in research) unpredictable and unusable. And that’s not even getting into the moral and ethical questions of whether or not a human embryo should be exploited in such a way, particularly when Adult Stem Cells are showing remarkable results in everything from helping sufferers of Sickle Cell Anemia and Thallassemias Major and Minor, to spinal injuries, skin regeneration and more.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:16 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2006

Chocolate Beer

I love chocolate.  I love beer.  But chocolate beer somehow doesn't appeal to me. 

Maybe, I'm just a stick-in-the-mud traditionalist, but I prefer eggnog or mulled wine at Christmas time.    Even with a name like Chocolate Lager.  But I'll try it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Negative Calories

Coca Cola and Nestle are preparing to launch a carbonated beverage that burns calories.

Called Enviga, the beverage uses green tea extracts to increase metabolism and burn about 77 calories while delivering about the same amount of caffeine as an average cup of coffee and calcium -about 20% of the daily amount required for adults 19-50.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 7, 2006

Brain Injured patients for experimentation?

Where do you draw the line? 

Brain Injury Patients Should be Used for Medical Experiments

Patients designated as in a “persistent vegetative state (PVS)” should be used for medical experiments, according to several top bioethicists, regardless of whether or not prior consent was obtained.

Several articles published in the recent issue of the Journal of Medical debated the potential use of patients with non-responsive brain function for such medical experiments as animal organ transplants—to bypass ethic prohibitions against using a living human being for medical experimentation, some even suggested designating such patients as “dead,” saying their cognitive impairments justified treating them as cadavers.

Dr. John Shea, medical advisor to Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com it would never be ethically or morally acceptable to use a living human being for medical research without their permission, regardless of their level of cognitive function.

“A person who has PVS is not dead! If you claim to respect the sacredness of human life, you can’t use a human person for medical experimentation—that would be grossly immoral.”

I am against such experiments without consent.  To me, the intrinsic value of human life, any human life, completely outweighs any external value such a life might have to medical scientists.  It's a clear, bright line. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 6, 2006

Use your own smiley face

Coming soon, personalized 'emoticons', using your own smiley face.

The researchers behind the system say it can quickly transform a user's face to convey any of six emotions, ranging from anger to happiness.

A user first uploads a picture of their face with a "neutral" expression. Then they use their mouse to mark the ends of their eyebrows, the corners of their mouth and the edges of their eyes and lips.

The software uses these points to morph the face to express different emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. A user can select an emotion and one of three intensity levels when using the system.

"We think it could be an improvement on the crude emoticons [ :-) ] instant messaging programmes use now," says Anthony Boucouvalas who created the system with colleagues at Bournemouth University in the UK. "It isn't perfect but it gets the message across and is very convenient."
--

In future, the researchers may integrate the face morphing software with a program that uses a dictionary of 18,000 words and basic grammatical phrases to identify the emotional content of a message.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 4, 2006

A fact you'll never forget

The static on your radio is residual radiation noise from the Big Bang.

From Echo of Genesis by Michio Kaku in the Wall Street Journal.

Remarkably, this echo from the Big Bang makes up a significant fraction of the static you hear on the radio. You literally pick up signals from Genesis itself every time you spin the radio dial. And if we somehow had eyes that could see microwave radiation, we would see this radiation come out every night, filling the night sky with a soft, faint glow

This evidence of the Big Bang was predicted by George Garnow in 1948.  Although he never got the Nobel prize, John Mather and George Smoot did yesterday for providing "increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the universe.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 3, 2006

Surpassingly strange and beautiful

Awesome, beautiful and strange, The Inner Life of a Cell, from Biovisions at Harvard is my pick for the best video I've seen in some time. 

When I think there's all that going on inside of each of us, in each of the 10 -100 trillion cells in our bodies, my mind reels, and I stagger, dumbstruck,  in my wonder for a minute or two, then my mind wanders off, looking for easier stuff to think about, maybe something to eat.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:10 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 2, 2006

43 hour days

Yahoo says that technology and multi-tasking has extended the typical day's activities far beyond the traditional 24 hours. 

We're now talking 43 hours and that's still not enough time for all that we want to do.

At the same time there's a resurgence of traditional values among the tech-saavy.

"It's clear that within the '43-hour day,' families are making concerted efforts to spend time together and to live out a new family value that says 'we control technology -- it does not control us,'"

With only a third of U.S. online households (33 percent) today consisting of the once-typical husband, wife, and children, the Ozzie and Harriet era is long past. The family power structure is changing as younger men are far more likely to cook, clean, and plan family activities, while women are as likely as men to manage family finances. As a more open, democratic family emerges, roles and levels of influence change.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:16 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 21, 2006

That pre-war feeling

For some time, I've been feeling in the air the sense of what it must have been like to be in Europe in 1938, so I was pleased to read this piece by Michael Novak.

The atmosphere these days is marked by the same mists that those who were in Paris and Berlin in 1938 can still recall. The air was heavy with ominous feelings that war was about to burst on Europe, like a violent autumn storm, with jagged lightning and clattering thunder.

The whole continent was in denial. There would be peace, there had to be peace. But there was not going to be peace. One could feel it in the air.

It feels like
1938 all over again
-----

Like many others, I have been following closely the words of our enemies. President Bush recited many of them in his speech on September 6: bin Laden, Zarqawi, Zawahiri. They have all seen Iraq as the central battle in this Third World War (counting the Cold War, it is the Fourth). They have said the whole Islamofascist dream of a Universal Caliphate, holding all of humankind in submission, hinges on this battle.

They are willing to wager everything in Baghdad and its surroundings. Either they will reap glory, triumph, and sure victory in Iraq, having humiliated the proud United States and shown what a phony it is — or they themselves will be deflated, humiliated, and put on the ashbin of this century. Here is where the line has been drawn.

I think that's why support for the Iraq war is increasing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 17, 2006

Technology addiction

Speaking of cell phones, 8 out of 10 adults are so addicted to their mobile phones, they can't turn them off during sex.  Hooked on handsets.

Most of the 18 to 40 age group said a mobile has improved their lives ....A quarter of the 16,500 questioned said they would feel isolated if they lost their mobile and nine per cent said would be unable to carry on normally.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 14, 2006

Sisters or lesbians

Should sisters who live together and who looked after their parents and two aunts receive the same inheritance tax benefits as a lesbian couple?

Treat us like lesbians, say sisters in tax fight

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 9, 2006

"Life Debt" of Donor Conceived Children

Some women who want a child resort to sperm from anonymous donors with little thought as to how the lives of their children will be effected.

What seemed to be an easy answer for the mother has created a complex "life debt" for the children, burdening them in unexpected ways as they struggle to make sense of their genetic heritage. 

Buffalo Girl, herself donor-conceived, gives voice to the complex personal narratives of such children.

How would you feel having 45+ unknown half-siblings.

the more dispersed your genetic kin the more extraordinary the numbers of them, the more confused, overwhelmed, alienated and experimental your life feels.

Donor as Genetic Parent
From Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry
I am afraid that a child brought up being told that their donor did nothing more than donate a "cell" may not fee fully able to express their own true thoughts, curiosities and feelings on the matter.
We have also heard story after story of donor conceived kids and adults connecting with their donor relatives, either half siblings or donors, and it being a profound and meaningful experience. These people are definitely acknowledging avery important genetic bond. Please parents, allow your kids to decide for themselves. Please do not set it up that somehow they will think they are hurting or betraying you to be curious about or value this genetic piece of themselves.

Living with the Pain of Not Knowing.
Katrina: "I don't have a dad and I never will."
Steve Chenevy: "Prices daughter, Katrina is now 17."
Katrina: "..and there is a lot of anger involved….I don't support anonymous donations for several reasons. First and foremost is the mental health of the offspring." "I don't understand the concept of a dad ....

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Electronic Slavery

If you can't live without your Blackberry, you may be suffering from an addiction that is every bit as damaging and hard to break as one to hard drugs – and one that employers might one day be held liable for.

Trapped in electronic slavery

If you have a Blackberry, how long can you go without checking email?

If you're always looking down at your handheld and ignoring everything else around you including the people, chances are you've got a jones going.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

She's Her Own Twin

They thought she was lying about giving birth to her three children because the DNA didn't match.  Then, they found she's her own twin.


"In her blood, she was one person, but in other tissues, she had evidence of being a fusion of two individuals," Uhl said.

It's a rare condition called chimerism, with only 30 documented cases worldwide. In Greek mythology, "chimera" means a monster: part goat, part lion, part snake.

In human biology, a chimera is an organism with at least two genetically distinct types of cells -- or, in other words, someone meant to be a twin. But while in the mother's womb, two fertilized eggs fuse, becoming one fetus that carries two distinct genetic codes -- two separate strands of DNA.

The twin is invisible, but for chimeras the twin lives microscopically inside the body as DNA.

When Uhl told Keegan she was her own twin, Keegan said she was shocked. "You wouldn't imagine that that could even be possible."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:51 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

Steyn on the Future of Civilization

No one writes better on the decline of Western civilization than Mark Stein, It's breeding obvious, mate

The question posed here tonight is very direct: “Does Western Civilization Have A Future?” One answer’s easy: if western civilization doesn’t have a past, it certainly won’t have a future. No society can survive when it consciously unmoors itself from its own inheritance. But let me answer it in a less philosophical way:

Much of western civilization does not have any future. That’s to say, we’re not just speaking philosophically, but literally. In a very short time, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries we regard as part of the western tradition will cease to exist in any meaningful sense. They don’t have a future because they’ve given up breeding.
----

Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

Everyone loses

Two lesbians married in Vermont in 200 and had a child by artificial insemination.  Let's call them Anna and Susan.

Anna, the biological mother, renounced her homosexuality and taking the child with her, moved to Virginia where she won custody in the Virginia courts.

Susan brought suit in Vermont where the family court gave Susan custody and the Vermont State Supreme Court ruled that Vermont has exclusive jurisdiction.

So who's most closely following the twists and turns of this jurisdictional battle?  Fathers, who after divorce, lost custody battles against "moveaway" petitions filed by their ex-wives.

Kids, dads have much to lose

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Cognito to spot hostile intent

The Transportation Security Authority is testing new airport screening software to find out which travelers have hostile intent.

Biometric readings are  analyzed by a new software called Cognito using algorithms, artificial intelligence and polygraph principles.

At the heart of the system is proprietary software that draws on Israel's extensive field experience with suicide bombers and security-related interrogations. The system aims to test the responses to words, in many languages, that trigger psycho-physiological responses among people with terrorist intent.
---
The company's goal is to prove it can catch at least 90% of potential saboteurs -- a 10% false-negative rate -- while inconveniencing just 4% of innocent travelers.
--

Even though his expertise is in human observation, U.S. behavior-recognition expert Dr. Ekman says projects like Cogito deserve a shot. He expects technology to advance even further, to devices like lasers that measure people's vital signs from a distance. Within a year, he predicts, such technology will be able to tell whether someone's "blood pressure or heart rate is significantly higher than the last 10 people" who entered an airport.

From the Wall Street Journal, a free article  Which Travelers have 'Hostile Intent'? Biometric Device May Have the Answer.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Poor baby, UPDATED

It's hard to imagine but a husband and wife arrested in the British terror raids planned to take their six month old baby with them on their suicide mission to bomb planes in mid air.    Their baby's bottle would have hidden the liquid bomb.

Just in case you wondered how far the anti-life ideology of the islamo terrorists would go. 

Bottle and baby used as bomb

With his parents in jail, I  hope that the poor baby will be placed in a good foster home with a chance at a normal life

UPDATE:  Dr. Sanity says we have moved into a time beyond wisdom and points to a discussion she calls heart-breaking and she's right  at Blackfive, On the virtues of killing children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:05 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

Reversing a dread disease

Just a month before the traditional Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon for Muscular Dystrophy - 38 years and still going - comes great news.

Muscular dystrophy reversal clue

US scientists have found a way to reverse muscular dystrophy (MD) in mice, offering hope of a cure for humans with muscle-wasting diseases.

The animals in the Nature Genetics study had myotonic dystrophy - the most common form of MD in adults.

The therapy targets a particular kind of toxic molecule to "silence" its presence in the diseased muscle.

The University of Virginia team showed the treatment fully restored heart and skeletal muscle function in mice.

In myotonic dystrophy, like the other types of MD, faulty DNA is to blame for the abnormalities that occur.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 7, 2006

"Poison Antidote"

Reminyl and Razadyne are the names of a drug that's given to Alzheimer patients to help slow brain damage. 

Researchers experimenting with animals found that the drug completely protected guinea pigs against high doses of the nerve agents soman and sarin, as well as toxic amounts of pesticides.

Alheimer's drug a 'poison antidote'.


Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Albuquerque and colleagues at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defence and the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, both in Maryland, said their research could benefit farm workers and soldiers.

This simple and safe antidotal therapy could be added to the arsenal of medications carried by all military members and first responders, who could easily administer it to themselves should they suspect that they've been exposed to a nerve agent," Dr Albuquerque said.
---


"I think maybe we have something that can protect us against bad terrorists," he said in a telephone interview, adding that the next step was to test female guinea pigs.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:03 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Evolution in Reverse

US scientists have taken a mouse back in time some 500 million years by reversing the process of evolution.

Just imagine the creative possibilities! 

And I don't mean understanding better the  process of evolution, I'm thinking of the creative possibilities for would-be novelists and Hollywood script writers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:40 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Aborted Fetuses for Beauty

'Research shows that they openly import foetuses from poverty-stricken provinces in Ukraine and Russia, preying on the financially desperate to treat vain Western women.'

A barbaric kind of beauty

It seems as if, around the world, women are paying to have the stem cells of aborted fetuses injected in their hands and faces, their thighs and buttocks with no evidence that it works, but in the hopes it will make them younger-looking and more attractive. 

Here, poverty-stricken young women are paid 200 U.S. dollars to carry babies up to the optimum eight to 12-week period - thought to be best for harvesting stem cells. They are then sold on to cosmetic clinics.

'The cavalier attitude of Russian cosmetic surgeons is grotesque,' says Dr Minger. 'The origin of the cells is ethically immoral. Furthermore, they don't bother to test for compatibility between the cells injected and the patient who receives them. Medical risks from complications can include infection, tumours and rejection of foreign tissue.'

Said George Sand, "Vanity is the quicksand of reason."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:49 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Made to Order Embryos

You now can buy fresh embryos to fit your requirements, say blond hair, blue eyes, PHd material, at the Abraham Center for Life in San Antonio.  Ethical row ensues

The world's first human embryo bank has been launched offering 'bespoke babies' for infertile couples.

For around £5,000 couples can buy ready-made embryos matched to their specific requirements - even down to choosing what eye and hair colour they would like their child to have.

In each case the embryos are made from eggs and sperm from two donors who have never even met. The moment of conception occurs in the laboratory and is determined by the genetic combination the clinic thinks will best meet the needs of the paying couples on its books.
--

The Center Director, Jennalee Ryan is quoted

But what I say to them is Jesus was not conceived in the normal way either. I don't lose any sleep over what we are doing. I feel what we are doing is positive.

"We are helping couples and putting good genes back into the universe."

But Josephine Quintavalle of the UK campaigning group Comment on Reproductive Ethics said it amounted to the "absolute commercialisation of human life."

She said: "It is heartbreaking to see children reduced in this way to the equivalent of a special offer supermarket commodity. Cut price, tailor-made human embryos, complete with door to door delivery."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

Defiant Birth

When Elizabeth Schiltz, an Associate Professor of Law at the St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis learned from a pre-natal screening that her baby showed the presence of Down's Syndrome, she choose to continue the pregnancy.

She's been called 'irresponsible', a 'sinner', even a 'genetic outlaw'.

From Businessweek, Confessions of a 'Genetic Outlaw'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

PKG, the on-off switch for pain

Columbia University Researchers Discover On-Off Switch for Chronic Pain.

The protein in nerve cells that sends the message of pain to the spinal column is called protein kinase G (PKG).

"We're very optimistic that this discovery and our continued research will ultimately lead to a novel approach to pain relief for the millions suffering from chronic pain," said Dr. Ambron.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:31 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Identity theft and meth addicts

identity theft is the 'perfect support' system for metamphetamine addicts.

Tammie Carroll, a mother of four in Denver who was indicted in 2003 in an identity theft ring, described her social circle succinctly.

“Anybody I knew that did meth was also doing fraud, identity theft or stealing mail,” Ms. Carroll said. “We helped each other out, whatever we needed to do that day. They all had their own little role.“

Meth Users, Attuned to Detail, Add ID Theft Habit

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

July 6, 2006

Terry Wallis

Just as we learn that the brain rewires itself and grows new connections throughout our lives unless stressed or depressed, comes dramatic evidence of that very sort.

Man's brain rewired itself in 19 years after crash. Doctors have proof on how Terry Wallis who was barely conscious for decades woke.

Most neurologists would have been willing to bet money that whatever the cause of it, if it hadn’t changed in 19 years, wasn’t going to change now,” Bernat said. “So it’s really extraordinary.”

Wallis’ father said his son is now able to make jokes. “That was something he wasn’t able to do early in his recovery,” Jerry Wallis said. “He now seems almost exactly like his old self. And he very often tells us how glad he is to be alive.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:53 PM | Permalink

July 3, 2006

Censorship in Holland

University professors in Holland are censored if they want to speak about the growing anti-semitism in Europe.

Van der Horst, who has been a professor at Utrecht University since 1969, duly read out the censored version of his lecture “The Myth of Jewish Cannibalism,” but had the uncensored text published in a newspaper. He felt deeply offended at the censorship of his text. “I have never been so humiliated in my whole life,”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:24 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 30, 2006

Hateful behind the veil

This is one clause for a pre-nup that beats all.

"if he ever
refuses a clear opportunity to leave for jihad, then I want the choice of a divorce"

From Hateful chatter behind the veil. All from the web postings of the wives of the terrorists arrested in Canada who were planning to detonate bombs against the Toronto stock exchange, storm Parliament and, if they were lucky, behead the prime minister.

  Wives Canadian Terrorists

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Another honor killing in Britain

Sister is stabbed to death for loving the wrong man.

Samaira Nazir was murdered by her brother and his cousin in front of her 2 and 4 year old neices. Her father, allegedly involved in the attack, is in hiding.

A BUSINESSMAN is facing a life sentence for stabbing his sister to death in front of his two young daughters in a so-called honour killing.

Azhar Nazir, 30, and his cousin, 17, used four knives to cut Samaira Nazir’s throat and repeatedly stab her after she fell in love with an asylum-seeker from what they saw as an unsuitable caste.

Miss Nazir, 25, had rejected suitors lined up to meet her in Pakistan and had been summoned to the family home in Southall, Middlesex.

The father, also called Azhar, Nazir and the youth launched the attack and at one point dragged her by her hair back into the property.
.
Miss Nazir, a businesswoman described as “strong-willed”, was heard to shout at her mother, Irshad Begum: “You are not my mother any more.” She was then held down as a scarf was tied around her neck and her throat was cut in three places.

Nazir’s daughters, aged 2 and 4, were screaming and were splattered with blood. Police fear that they were ordered to watch as a warning to them. Neighbours called the police after hearing the screaming

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 22, 2006

Fluffernutters forever

There are people around here who will fight to the death for Marshmallow Fluff despite the attempts by one outraged Mass state Senator who wasn't even sure it could be called a food.

Miss Kelly has the details

In the sandwich fight gets sticky, the author of The Marshmallow Fluff cookbook says
"It's almost anti-American. It's definitely anti-Massachusetts."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Your data isn't yours

Most people believe that they own the information about themselves. Well they don't as
AT&T made clear today.

Your data isn't yours

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Mad Englishmen

In an amazing article in the Wall St Journal, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, I learned that the most violent developed country is now Great Britain.

So what is the government doing about it?

Police have been instructed to let off with a caution burglars and those who admit responsibility for some 60 other crimes ranging from assault and arson to sex with an underage girl. That is, no jail time, no fine, no community service, no court appearance. It's cheap, quick, saves time and money, and best of all the offenders won't tax an already overcrowded jail system.

Not everyone will be treated so leniently. A new surveillance system promises to hunt down anyone exceeding the speed limit. Using excessive force against a burglar or mugger will earn you a conviction for assault or, if you seriously harm him, a long sentence. Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for killing one burglar and wounding another during the seventh break-in at his rural home, was denied parole because he posed a threat to burglars.
--

Using a cap pistol, as an elderly woman did to scare off a gang of youths, will bring you to court for putting someone in fear
---
Police forces are smaller than those of America and Europe and have been consolidated, leaving 70% of English villages without a police presence. Police are so hard-pressed that the Humberside force announced in March they no longer investigate less serious crimes unless they are racist or homophobic.
Among crimes not being investigated: theft, criminal damage, common assault, harassment and non-domestic burglary.
--

It may be crass to point out that the British people, stripped of their ability to protect themselves and of other ancient rights and left to the mercy of criminals, have gotten the worst of both worlds. Still, as one citizen, referring to the new policy of letting criminals off with a caution, suggested: "Perhaps it would be easier and safer for the honest citizens of the U.K. to move into the prisons and the criminals to be let out."

Madness, it's sheer madness.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink

June 20, 2006

Sex and Robots

An international team of scientists and academics will publish a "code of ethics" for robots and machines as they become more and more sophisticated.

Verruggio and his colleagues have identified key areas that include: ensuring human control of robots; preventing illegal use; protecting data acquired by robots; and establishing clear identification and traceability of the machines.

Isaac Asimov drew up laws for robotics years ago that any science fiction fan can recite from memory

• Robot may not injure human or, through inaction, allow human to come to harm
• Robot must obey human orders, unless they conflict with first law
• Robot must protect itself if this does not conflict with other laws.


It's quite likely that people will be having sex with robots in a few years. After all some people will have sex with anything.

Even though robots will have sophisticated self-learning mechanisms, I am convinced that robots will never achieve consciousness in the way we understand consciousness as including the full range of emotional experience.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink

June 17, 2006

Death Vans

China is now employing death vans used for lethal injection executions, mobile execution chambers, that travel from village to village. The designer says lethal injections are a sign that China promotes human rights.

Amnesty international says from 2000-8000 are put to death each year.

China makes ultimate punishment mobile

China's critics contend that the transition from firing squads to injections in death vans facilitates an illegal trade in prisoners' organs.

Injections leave the whole body intact and require participation of doctors. Organs can "be extracted in a speedier and more effective way than if the prisoner is shot," says Mark Allison, East Asia researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong. "We have gathered strong evidence suggesting the involvement of (Chinese) police, courts and hospitals in the organ trade."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink

June 7, 2006

Slaves Auctioned in Airports

For those of you who still have the comfortable delusion that slavery doesn't exist anymore.

Sex slaves auctioned in British airport arrival halls

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink

Stealth Wings

These are just too cool, too WOW not to post about.
Strap on stealth wings for special forces instead of parachutes to land behind enemy lines

  Strap On Stealth Wings

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2006

Make it Quick

A recent AP poll found that Americans want just about everything in a New York minute. We get antsy after 5 minutes on hold and 15 minutes in a line.

That describes me, what about you?

The faster, faster culture has great impact on retailing and design. One man, Paco Underhill is making the most of it. Take a look at his clients.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:46 PM | Permalink

Man donates kidney to his rescuer

Man donates kidney to his rescuer

A man plucked from a raging torrent 20 years ago by a stranger has repaid the favour by donating a kidney to his rescuer.

Remzo Pivic, from the Bosnian town of Bosanski Brod, almost drowned when he fell into the icy water of the River Bosna two decades ago.

He was saved when passerby Ahmet Adulovic jumped in and pulled his lifeless body to safety.

The pair stayed in contact despite the fact that rescuer Adulovic emigrated to Canada, and when Pivic heard he was having kidney troubles he offered one of his own.

When doctors confirmed they were compatible, he flew to Ottawa to donate the organ.

He said: "I've finally been able to pay him back for saving my life 20 years ago."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

May 24, 2006

Sleeping pill wakes men from coma

From the Guardian, Sleeping pill wakes men in vegetative state.

A drug commonly used as a sleeping pill appears to have had a miraculous effect on brain-damaged patients who have been in a permanent vegetative state for years, arousing them to the point where some are able to speak to their families, scientists report today.

The dramatic improvement occurs within 20 minutes of taking the drug, Zolpidem, and wears off after around four hours - at which point the patients return to their permanent vegetative state, according to a paper published in the medical journal NeuroRehabilitation.

If they can be awakened, react and speak with their families, how can they be in a permanent vegetative state?

Ralf Clauss of the nuclear medicine department of the Royal Surrey County hospital, one of the authors, said that clinical trials were now needed. He said the drug could have uses in all kinds of brain damage, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:07 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2006

Dorsal vs. ventral

Is this possible?

Brain Scans Get at the Roots of Prejudice.

The human brain may have a built-in mechanism for keeping racially or politically distinct groups apart, a new Harvard study suggests.

U.S. researchers observed the brain activity of liberal college students who were asked to think about Christian conservatives. As they did so, a brain region strongly linked to the self and to empathy with others nearly shut down, while another center -- perhaps linked to stereotypic thoughts -- swung into high gear.
---
It all takes part in the medial prefrontal cortex or the mPFC for you brain surgeons out there but in two distinct regions - the ventral vs. the dorsal.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

May 17, 2006

Roses and Tomatoes

I don't know about you, but when I buy roses I want them to smell. I want to drown in their fragrance. While they are getting bigger, it's getting harder and harder to find roses with any smell at all.

Now scientists have found that the tomato gene that gives tomatoes their flavor, is the same gene that gives roses their wonderful scent.

Soon, I'll be able to find roses that smell, well like roses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2006

Allah's in the Church

Even though I've been following the Islamization of Europe closely, I found While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer chilling.

From Publishers Weekly
Having recently published an indictment of Christian fundamentalist intolerance in the U.S. (Stealing Jesus), New York native Bawer relocated to Europe with his Norwegian partner in 1998 and found an even more dangerous strain of religious and cultural bigotry ensnaring Western Europe. A swarming menace called radical Islam, he writes, rings Europe's cities in smoldering Muslim ghettos, provoking everything from so-called honor killings and political assassinations to the Madrid subway bombings and the massacre of school children in Beslan. Worse, the Taliban-like theocracy Bawer sees looming inside backward immigrant populations resistant to integration flourishes under the protective wing of Western Europe's America-bashing, multicultural, liberal establishment. The latter correspond to the appeasers of Nazi Germany, in Bawer's view, since he believes that radical Islamism is every bit the threat to Western civilization that Nazism was.

About the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Anna Lindh who was stabbed to death in a busy Stockholm department store in the presence of many witnesses none of whom came to her aid or attempted to detain her attacker, he writes

Onlookers just stood there, waiting for the authorities to do something. It was as if the very capacity for useful response had been breed out of them...There does seem to exist in Western Europe a deadly pattern of passivity that derives from a habit--born of life in a welfare state--of expecting the government to take care of things.

I thought of that when I read the story of how Belgian bishops have opened their churches to illegal Muslim immigrants who now live there as squatters in their tents with radios, television sets and computers provided them by Catholic relief services. They are turning the churches into mosques, moving the altar, covering the statues of the Blessed Virgin Mother and holding Islamic prayer services in the church.

 Brussels Church

I'm all for providing services to people in need no matter what their faith or lack of it, but turning over churches to Muslims when there are already 380 mosques in Belgium supported by the government seems to me to be a striking example of the European reflexive inclination to appease a growing minority that is determined not to integrate into the society of their host country nor to show that society the respect they demand for themselves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2006

The Upgradable You

Redefining what it is to be be human, Popular Mechanics looks at The Upgradable You.

How about nanobots powered by glucose to clean your arteries for decades?
Or living islet cells inside microscopic chips releasing just the right amount of insulin at the right time?
Or superbones that merge with your real bones?

This is way beyond Cyborgs. It's Homo Technicus.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:34 PM | Permalink

April 19, 2006

Outsourcing Rent-a-Womb

I suppose it's no great surprise and was bound to happen eventually.

In India, Wombs for rent, real cheap

Both sides of the debate agree that the fertility business in India, including "reproductive tourism" by foreigners, is potentially enormous. Current figures are tough to pin down, but the Indian Council of Medical Research estimates that helping residents and visitors beget children could bloom into a nearly $6-billion-a-year industry.
----
money was the primary reason these women had queued up to be surrogates; without it, the list would be short, if not nonexistent. Payment usually ranges from about $2,800 to $5,600, a fortune in a country where annual per capita income hovers around $500.

But Patel cited cultural components as well -- an empathy with the childless here in a society that views producing progeny as an almost sacred obligation, and Hindu teachings about being rewarded in the next life for good deeds performed in this one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 PM | Permalink

Future Sex

Future Sex: gizmos, robots

When America's top sex researchers gathered recently to discuss the next decade in their field, some envisioned a future in which artificial sex partners could cater to every fantasy.

"What is very likely to be present before 2016 would be a multi-sensual experience of virtual sex," said Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, Bloomington.
---
There is already a field called "teledildonics" which allows computers to manipulate electronic devices like the Sinulator at the other end for sexual purposes.

"The Iraq war...was kind of a boom for our company."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

Tracking Your Family's Whereabouts

Now you can track where your teenager is going. For $9.99 a month, Sprint offers you the Family Locator that lets parents track their kids' whereabouts using the GPS capabilities in each child's cellphone.

Big Mother Is Watching.

The whole idea of tracking your family in this manner is weird and alarming on some levels. So is the notion that we're all so deathly afraid for our kids that there's even a market for this.

But now that the technology is out there, it's not going away anytime soon.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:32 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2006

Lamentations

The Business of Life for Christians in the Holy Land is increasingly troubled. The Agony in the Garden and the Way of the Cross have become a way of life. I looked about, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that there was no one to lend support;

From Reuters In Bethlehem,
A 76-year-old Greek Orthodox monk is beaten up by villagers, his carefully tended olive trees are uprooted and his isolated West Bank monastery is defaced with graffiti depicting nuns being raped.
---
Corruption and lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza in the past decade have hit Christians harder than others because, as a minority, they have not been able to defend themselves easily.

Exasperated at the failure of the Palestinian Authority to act and the reticence of churches to speak up, a group of Christians in Bethlehem drew up a list of grievances that included theft of their land by Muslims, attacks and desecration of Church property.

The Christians passed the list to Church leaders, saying local authorities had done little to help.
---

"If the situation continues, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Nativity will become cold, empty museums," said Samir Qumsieh, a Palestinian-Christian businessman, referring to two of the holiest Christian shrines.

I looked about, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that there was no one to lend support

Isaiah 63

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:33 PM | Permalink

April 12, 2006

Involuntary Parentage

That's what Michael Wofford says about the suit his ex-girlfriend is bringing for child support and college tuition for the twins she gave birth to after Michael agreed to donate sperm so she could have children.

Sperm donor sued for child support

"She was a lady with a plan -- and that plan wasn't marriage," Mirabelli said. "He trusted her. Why? Because she said 'I don't want anything from you. I just want your semen.' "

Both are 45 and met online at Match.com.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 PM | Permalink

Genetic Bounty

Genetic testing is not just for finding out your family's ancestry.

Says sociologist Troy Duster, "It's about access to money and power." Some call it the "American Indian Princess" syndrome where families are looking for ways to validate their children's eligibility for race-based admissions or government entitlements.

Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests
Naturally when you're applying to college you're looking at how your genetic status might help you," said Mr. Moldawer, who knows that the twins' birth parents are white, but has little information about their extended family. "I have three kids going now, and you can bet that any advantage we can take we will."
---

It may be only natural then that ethnic ancestry tests, one of the first commercial products to emerge from the genetic revolution, are spurring a thorough exploration of the question, What is in it for me?
---
Prospective employees with white skin are using the tests to apply as minority candidates, while some with black skin are citing their European ancestry in claiming inheritance rights.

This is the underlying problem of identifying people by race in an increasingly multiracial society. Since most applications accept self-descriptions of race and ethnicity, we can expect to see many more DNA ethnics.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

April 11, 2006

First-time Mothers

In this brave new world, new mothers have things to do older mothers can't even imagine. No wonder they're so exhausted.

From Mother Pie, First Baby? Top 10 Must Do List.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 PM | Permalink

April 4, 2006

Growing new organs

Seven young patients have new bladders thanks to tissue engineering and their own cells.

Doctors grow bladder cells and produce rebuilt organ

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have reconstructed the defective bladders of seven young patients using the patients' own cells, marking the first time that tissue engineering has rebuilt a complex internal organ in humans, a top medical journal reported yesterday.
--
Someday, scientists believe, they will be able to routinely regrow failing organs using tissue engineering, which takes the patient's cells, cultivates them to grow along a scaffold that gives them the needed form, and then re-implants them where needed

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:37 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2006

Reality is a Mistake

One Egyptian doctor on why genital mutilation is necessary.

Dr. Muhammad Wahdan: Reality is a mistake, we must rectify it.
[...]
In Egypt we have four and a half million spinsters. The definition of a spinster is a woman who has reached 30, without ever receiving a marriage proposal. We have a spinster problem in the Arab world, and the last thing we want is for them to be sexually aroused. Circumcision of the girls who need it makes them chaste, dignified, and pure.

Dr. Sanity says freeing women is the key to developing a saner Mideast.

the treatment of women under Islam is not only the key to understanding the pathology of the culture, but also the key to developing an antidote to its most poisonous and toxic elements. Unveiling the women of Islam and eliminating their second-class status; empowering them in the oppressive Islamic countries where their individuality and self-expression has been crushed-- may cause a ripple effect that could eventually alter a family structure that currently encourages the development of generation after generation of dysfunctional and pathological men and women.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

Loving Robots

Will robots fill the space now empty of husband, children and pets?

Seemingly sentient robots can fill void, researchers say.

The AIBO from Sony ''gives me a sense of identity," Light said. ''The dog loves me all the time. . . . It gives me an entrée into a world I had thought I'd lost forever."
----
Alan Beck, lead researcher in the Purdue study, said he feels no misgivings when using the robots among elders who are mentally competent and who let themselves imagine that the machine has feelings. ''It's a suspension of disbelief," he said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:03 PM | Permalink

April 2, 2006

Doctor Doom

What can anyone possibly say about this man who advocates killing 5 billion people and the people in this room who gave him a standing ovation? In Texas of all places!

Meeting Doctor Doom

But there was a gravely disturbing side to that otherwise scientifically significant meeting, for I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola. The speech was given by Dr. Eric R. Pianka (Fig. 1), the University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert who the Academy named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.

The depravity is staggering.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 PM | Permalink

March 31, 2006

Closed Borders

You may recall that a Borders bookstore was destroyed on 9/11 in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

You would then be surprised to learn that Borders has almost no books on the events of 9/11 in its New York City bookstores. I don't know about elsewhere, I have only the report of Van at Kesher Talk of his search at

bizarro-world bookstore, where the most fateful world-historical event of our times did not occur. A visitor to either store would find it almost impossible to learn what happened that day -- what happened to set in motion the chain of events that led to many other books that Borders is happy to carry, such as plans to impeach President Bush.

Then I learn from Sisu that a Borders employee reports that they are not allowed to put their copies of the Koran on any shelf other than the top.

And now Borders and Waldenbooks has banned the April-May issue of the magazine Free Inquiry because it reprinted the Danish cartoons inside its covers. The reason Borders gives is its hypothetical fear of violence from radical Muslims and its desire to protect customers and employees. This confused moral stand is nothing but a craven capitulation to perceived threats and possible bullying.

Robert Bidinotto rightly asks what next? Banning Jewish books because of threats by skinheads? Books on abortion because a pro-life fanatic might threaten you? Books on organized crime because some Mafioso could scare you? Pornographic books because some crazed feminist might threaten harm?

Could it be that Borders' recent MOU with the United Arab Emirates has anything to do with it?

Remember when Borders hosted events to highlight the tragedy of banned books? Tim Blair does.

I watch American corporations like Yahoo! supply the Chinese government with its list of cyberdissidents from their email database. Some of those dissidents are now in jail. To their credit, neither Google nor MSN have stooped so low. Unable to make moral distinctions, Yahoo! founder Jerry Lang shrugs it off reports Rebecca MacKinnon in Yahoo! Abomination.

Stephen Green at Vodkapundit drives it home.

President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.

We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.

Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

After 9/11when terror was brought to our door, many of us wondered what we could do as individuals. What I plan to do and what you can do is NOT PATRONIZE those companies or stores that knuckle under to fascist threats or perceived threats. Borders is adding to the climate of fear by undermining our freedom of the press. They are making it easier for any thug to threaten violence to get books they don't like removed from shelves.

Don't go there. Don't patronize bookstores that are afraid. Don't buy books at stores that undermine our liberal values.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

Punishing Educated Mothers

If the state subsidizes your education, does it have a say in how you use that education?

If you are a woman and want to stay home to raise your children, should you be punished?

Sharon Dijksma, a leading figure in the Dutch Labour Party, thinks so.

"A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work – that is destruction of capital,” she said in an interview last week. “If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society’s expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished"

Talk about draining the life from a society.

There seems to be a blinder on the eyes of some feminists that they can not see the tremendous value and benefit to all society in mothers who devote their time to raising loving, secure and educated children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:32 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2006

Bacon Lovers Take Heart

If this isn't good news, I don't know what is.

Bacon that's good for your heart.

Bacon as rich with Omega-3 fatty acids as the finest fish.

And the gene that makes it all possible comes from the lowly roundworm.

Read the New York Times if you don't believe me, Pork That's Good for the Heart May Be Possible with Cloning.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:32 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2006

Whose organ do you want

China executes about 8000 people a year with the organs of executed prisoners the raw materials for a growing organ transplant industry.

Hundreds of well-off Japanese and other nationals are turning to China's burgeoning human organ transplant industry, paying tens of thousands of pounds for livers and kidneys, which in some cases have been harvested from executed prisoners and sold to hospitals.
---
And it's not just the small private hospitals and clinics springing up all over the country - even bigger hospitals in the capital Beijing and the business hub of Shanghai have adverts in toilet cubicles and on the walls of wards.

I don't think they ever saw this. Female kidney turns lumberjack on to housework.

Nor this. Very often recipients of a transplant take on the personality characteristics of the donor according to Gary Schwartz, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.

In one such case, a young dancer received a heart-and-lung transplant. Before the operation, she had been very health-conscious; yet, the very first thing she did on leaving the hospital was to head for a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, and wolf down an order of chicken nuggets‹something she would never have done before. Her personality changed, too: she became aggressive and impetuous whereas, before, she had been calm and conservative.

She decided to investigate and, after much battling against the medical bureaucracy, she discovered that her heart lung donor was an 18-year-old man who had died in a motorcycle accident. He had been an aggressive and impetuous lad who had a passion for Kentucky Fried Chicken‹in fact, uneaten KFC nuggets had been found in his motorcycle jacket on the very day of his death.

Another notable case is that of an eight-year-old girl who had received the heart of a 10-year-old girl who had been brutally murdered. After the transplant, the recipient began to experience horrifying nightmares. Her dreams were consistently about being murdered, and they were so traumatic that a psychiatrist was called in to help. What he heard convinced him that the girl was describing the actual circumstances of her donor¹s murder. When the details were given to the police, these proved to be so accurate that the killer was easily identified and apprehended.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 PM | Permalink

Sperm Online

When women want a child, some will go to any lengths in searching online for just the right sperm donor, Jennifer Egan writes in the New York Times Magazine Wanted: A Few Good Sperm.

Daniela said
"I would probably choose somebody with a darker skin color so I don't have to slather sunblock on my kid all the time. I want it to be a healthy mix. You know how mixed dogs are always the nicest and the friendliest and the healthiest? If you get a clear race, they have all the problems. Mutts are always the friendly ones, the intelligent ones, the ones who don't bark and have a good character. I want a mutt."

A Jewish woman didn't like the potential Jewish donors she saw online
"Everybody either had glasses, they're balding or their grandmother was diabetic and had heart disease"
so she picked a
"typical Aryan perfect human being,"

Germans apparently are prolific sperm donors. The Aryan bodybuilder the aforementioned Jewish woman chose has fathered 21 children including four sets of twins. The families of these children have their own listserv and are planning a group vacation in 2007. For one mother who's concerned about who will take care of her child if she dies prematurely, the listserv is kin, and perhaps the best place she can find a guardian.

The children, I fear, will be genetically bewildered, lacking a complete sense of their identity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2006

Hospital for the Broken-Hearted

Aimed primarily at love-sick teenagers, a hospital clinic in Munich gives emergency treatment to the broken-hearted.

"Having your heart broken can lead to physical and psychological problems, from loss of appetite which leads to sudden weight loss to unbelievable pain that drives many people to take drastic measures."

The free clinic in the Bavarian capital will have experts on hand to advise both sexes on how to cope with being single.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2006

Gift of a human

This Brave New World has mind-boggling ethical questions and issues.
Consider this moral quandry from the Brussels Journal - A gift of a human

Let us add a confounding variable to the situation. Extending the adoption metaphor, let us posit that the mother offering you her child does so with the declaration that the child is useless to her. If you refuse, she will slit her daughter’s throat and leave the child to die. Your course of action seems obvious enough: you take the child immediately and spirit her to safety, away from the mad mother.

This is a seemingly extreme scenario, but it is not an unrealistic one. When the child in question is a frozen embryo, non-utility to the parent is the usual determinant of life or death.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

January 27, 2006

Saving Our Boys

Boys are finally beginning to get attention. I wrote about Where Have All the Men Gone but it may take some lawsuits to change things.

It's starting in Boston. One schoolboy is suing saying the system favors girls and is biased against boys. Schoolboy' s bias suit.

''The system is designed to the disadvantage of males," Anglin said. ''From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you'll do well and get good grades. Men naturally rebel against this."
--
You can't expect a boy to buy pink paper and frills to decorate their notebooks," Little said.

Newsweek makes it a cover story, The Trouble with Boys. Boys are disappearing in college where they're now a minority at 44%.

This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, "has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy."
--

"Girl behavior becomes the gold standard," says "Raising Cain" coauthor Thompson. "Boys are treated like defective girls."
--
"One of the most reliable predictors of whether a boy will succeed or fail in high school," Newsweek reports, "rests on a single question: Does he have a man in his life to look up to?" It continues: "An increasing number of boys — now a startling 40 percent — are being raised without biological dads. Psychologists say that grandfathers and uncles can help, but emphasize that an adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map."

It's astonishing that 40% of our boys today are being raised without their biological fathers. Adolescent boys without a father figure is like an explorer without a map

whether they're breathing down their necks about grades or admonishing them to show up for school on time, "an older man reminds a boy in a million different ways that school is crucial to their mission in life."

We need more mentors and single-sex classes if we are going to save our boys.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:08 PM | Permalink

January 26, 2006

Modestly Yours

Here's a very interesting blog called Modestly Yours by a group of young women whose voices you will never hear in mainstream media. They are "good girls in hiding."

I mean where else will the cable channel Oxygen be called A Breath of Foul Air for its "edgy" entertainment that has most definitely been pornified.

But a considerable amount of the cable channel’s edginess no doubt consists in its unflattering depictions of women for women. Howard Stern does it and it is sexist; Oxygen does it and it is “intelligent.” You’d have to be breathing some pretty thin air to buy that.

Or in Are We All Girls Who 'Cain't Say No'

So there it was again, the "cain't say no" phenomenon. Only in this case it wasn't a simple matter of turning down yet another car pool stint. Grace was thoroughly uninterested in the guy, even a bit repulsed, but still giving him a spin in her bed-- and feeling guilty about getting out of it.

The blog is sponsored by Modesty Zone founded in 2005 by Wendy Shalit who wrote the well received A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue. From a description of the book which I haven't read.

Beholden neither to conservatives who discount as exaggeration the dangers facing young women, nor to feminists who steadfastly affix blame on the patriarchy, Wendy Shalit proposes that, in fact, we have lost our respect for an important classical virtue -- that of sexual modesty. A Return to Modesty is a deeply personal account as well as a fascinating intellectual exploration. From seventeenth-century manners guides to Antonio Canova's sculpture, Venus Italico, to Frank Loesser's 1948 tune, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," A Return to Modesty unfolds like a detective's search for a lost idea as Shalit uncovers opinions about this lost virtue's importance, from Balzac to Simone de Beauvoir, that have not been aired for decades. Then she knocks down the accompanying myths one by one. Female modesty is not about a "sexual double standard," as is often thought, but is related to male virtue and honor. Modesty is not a social construct, but a natural response. And modesty is not prudery, but a way to preserve a sense of the erotic in our lives.

To me, this is edgy and intelligent thinking and writing, even more so, since the authors are young women, looking for what women of my generation discarded too quickly.

UPDATE:
The relentless pornification of our culture goes now goes beyond young girls and women and extends to, as Gail Sheehy calls them, "seasoned women". Ronni Bennett delivers Sheehy a well-deserved lashing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:58 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2006

Posthumous conception

Just born in Russia is Georgy whose father died nine years earlier.

That's right, posthumously conceived, brought to term using a surrogate womb, Georgy will be raised by his grandmother.

The newborn, named Georgy, is the image of his father, his grandmother told reporters. She said she would be raising the boy by herself and would tell him the story of his birth when he was old enough to understand it.

His mother is apparently not in the picture. I don't understand it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:42 PM | Permalink