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Yet Another List o' Linky-Links

Once again my Web browser is devouring half of my system's available RAM and more swap space than you can shake a stick at, so it's time once again for a long list of links.

Including naturally enough, some Watchmen-related links.

I've got several real posts brewing, none of which I've actually had time to write (just got home from the office, if that's any indication), so without further ado, here we go!


Obama to lift restrictions on stem-cell research

Obama Science Memo Goes Beyond Stem Cells

If Obama accomplishes absolutely nothing else in his entire term in office, if he does nothing to stop the pointless and expensive war in Iraq or right the capsizing economy, then his presidency will still be an epic win. Abandoning religious ideology in favor of actual, genuine science is one of the most important things this nation can do. First World superpowers keep their position only by dint of their technological and scientific basis, yet in the past eight years under anti-intellectual Republican rule, the US slipped to #22 in the world in terms of financial support for basic scientific research.

Rewiring the Brain: Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering

This is an incredibly exciting time to live in. We're closing in on being able to understand and manipulate the stuff of the universe on the smallest scale possible, and we're also closing in on the ability to understand in ways never before possible the most fundamental things that make us who we are. These areas of exploration bring incredible promise.

New Scientist: Humans may be primed to believe in creation

I've written before about how the brain is not an organ of thought so much as an organ for generating beliefs--a "belief engine," if you will--and this research shows that a predisposition belief in purpose is a very strong component of that belief engine.

Missing Link Between Fructose, Insulin Resistance Found

For the first time, a concrete, documented mechanism between fructose and fructose-containing sweeteners and diabetes is uncovered.


Catholic Church excommunicates doctors who perform lifesaving emergency abortion on 9-year-old rape victim; take no action against her rapist

The Vatican uses the line "life must always be protected" to justify the excommunication, in apparent ignorance of the irony that without the abortion, the young rape victim, and the babies, would have died.

Bush: 'Sanctity of Human Life Day'

In the last days of his Administration, former President Bush declared Jan. 18 to be “National Sanctity of Human Life Day.” Apparently, the sanctity of human life doesn't apply to the citizens of Middle Eastern nations that happen to be geographically close to other nations that were responsible for terrorist attacks on us.

Steve Pavlina: 2009 Focus - Intimate Relationships

So there's this guy who is...well, I'm not exactly sure what he is. He seems to be a motivational coach (or "personal development" coach, whatever that is). Anyway, he writes a blog, and in his blog he says that 2009 is the year he's going to explore polyamory. And he linked to my site on his list of resources.


Photos of abandoned Russian ships frozen in ice

I really, really, really, really want to visit this place. The Russians have always been amazing at taking urban decay to the next level, and this place is just beautiful.

The Most Amazing Star Trek Collectible of All Time

If by "amazing" you mean "horrifying beyond all human reason." The commentary is priceless.

Watchmen condoms: We're society's only protection

If you want your schlong to look just like Dr. Manhattan's, now's your chance! These blue condoms come in a flip-top case with the smiley face on the front, and ...yeah. I have nothing else to add.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
That Pavlina dude makes you look like a master of brevity.

Also, seriously, the freaking SALT MONSTER? Who made that call? Gimme a Horta any day (cuz I already can has Tribble, it's the same color as my cat) - or even a Gorn, jeez... or actually I could go for a tiny Clint Howard doll, too.

Huh, why don't I have any Star Trek icons...
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
'I'm a Doctor, not a bricklayer!'
Mar. 10th, 2009 07:28 am (UTC)
"Sooooo if you're a filthy hortaaaa...."
Mar. 10th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
I had similar thoughts on reading about Obama's stem-cell decision today. He's gotten a lot of criticism in the short time he's been in office, but there is so much he is doing for us in reversing a lot of Bush's policies. It is so nice to have a science-minded President back in the White House.
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
What a fucking TOOL. 'I'm indecisive about what I want so I'm not committing to my current relationships and am being too distant to my family because I just really want to experience MORE relationships with other, varied women. I know. POLYAMORY is the answer! Besides I could always just divorce my wife later if it doesn't work out.' *grumble*
Mar. 11th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Okay.. so I quipped this off when awake for 48 hours.. I may have been a bit grumpy *wry* but seriously. Something really rubbed me the wrong way on this. It was the seeing the future relationship possibilities as consumables. Commodities.

I spent an hour or more today reading additional blogs and (feeling sheepish from my possible snap judgement and response) and I still have the slimy, snake oil salesman, response/feeling.
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
Pavlina's an interesting one; I read his blog back when he was doing the productivity thing, then when he was doing the crazy polyphasic sleep thing and I guess I may go back and take a peek at it now he's looking into polyamory.

He seems to find everything interesting, and when he gets into something he doesn't just write about it, he goes all-out to experience it himself. (Amusingly, his wife seems happier about the polyamory than she was about the polyphasic sleep which meant she never saw him!)
Mar. 10th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
About the life-saving abortion--

The single most perplexing thing about prolifers is that they seem to say that a pregnant woman's life is worth less than that of a fetus. Some people have explicitly said this, but it just doesn't make any sense to me. It's like saying "All life is sacred, but some life is more sacred than others"
Mar. 11th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
I think the difference is the dichotomy between moral absolutism and the principle of least harm.

When it comes to morality and ethics, you have moral absolutism on one side and least harm on the other. Moral absolutism is the kind of morality a person comes up with when he's sitting alone, healthy and well-fed, in a cloister away from the real-world consequences of his decisions; such a person might say "it is wrong to take a life, ergo, it is always wrong to have an abortion." This is presented as a moral absolute, independent of all other considerations.

The philosophy of least harm is a moral system more grounded in reality; it says "the ethical thing to do is that which causes least harm." So whereas a moral absolutist would say that taking a life is always wrong, and leave complex moral issues in god's hands, a person who subscribes to the theory of least harm will say "If I do nothing three people die, and if I do something two people die." Moral absolutism in this case fails because it condemns a 9-year-old to death.
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
Moral absolutism is the kind of morality a person comes up with when he's sitting alone, healthy and well-fed, in a cloister away from the real-world consequences of his decisions; such a person might say "it is wrong to take a life, ergo, it is always wrong to have an abortion."

This is a really good way of putting it. Though it's apparently ok to take lives for any number of other reasons-- i.e. the death penalty, in combat, self defense... seems like self-defense at least should apply here?
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
No, the position is, "If I do something, one person will die. If I do nothing, two may live."

I don't agree with this position for several reasons, but it can be criticized without the need to misrepresent it.
Mar. 11th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Three, in this case; the 9-year-old in question was pregnant with twins, which is what prompted the emergency abortion. Her doctors determined that there was no way for her to carry to term without an overwhelming likelihood of dying.
Mar. 11th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
"...the US slipped to #22 in the world in terms of financial support for basic scientific research."

If you're talking about government funded financial support, then I think that's a good thing. The United States should be at the bottom of that list. Government funds do more to destroy rather than improve the progress of science. The less government intervention into science, the more progress will be made in terms of discoveries.
Mar. 11th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
That's true of applied science, but definitely not true of pure research. Private industry doesn't fun pure research. Never has. It's expensive, there's a very long lead time (often, decades) between the investment and any kind of payoff, and there's no guarantee of any payoff.

Private industry is good at financing the transistor and things like that. It's not good at all, and never will be, at financing pure research.
Mar. 12th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
What is "pure" research? Research in a vacuum?

To what end does "pure" research serve? Does "pure" research mean there is no end, hence why it is "pure"?

If there's no payoff for all that research, then wouldn't those resources dumped into research have been better spent elsewhere?

How do you guarantee a payoff in research? How do you even know the research is paying off when your funds are unconditional and your application is unstated or unknown or irrelevant to the discovery process?

Maybe I consider research and technology two sides of the same coin, so I find it impossible to see how you can separate one (applied science) from the other (research) when it comes to government funding. You can't have any technology without discoveries, and you can't really do much with a discovery without an idea of how to apply it. Since this is the case, maybe it's a good thing that private industry is no good at financing "pure" research.

But maybe I'm missing something. I don't know much about scientific research in general. I'm only basing my premise on economic principles.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )