Is tolerance a choice?

Whether a choice or not a choice, sexual orientation does not reduce freedom or equality.Notice the word “homosexual” written on the armband?

The regional government of Tuscany, Italy, is teaching people that, because homosexuality is not a choice, gays and lesbians should not have to face discrimination.

Because a heterosexual has no choice, they enjoy freedom from discrimination. We know a homosexual has no choice and so may also enjoy freedom from discrimination. Gender identity isn’t chosen either.

But this is not enough. The premise may not be sufficiently demanding our humanity.

Insisting upon tolerance, equality and freedom for each other need not be justified.

Whether or not heterosexuals scorn homosexuality, their dominance is irrelevant and their duty to any minority is clear. Whether a choice or not a choice, sexual orientation is not a condition that either enhances or reduces our freedom or equality. The fashion or nature of our culture, or any dominant class or majority belief, cannot dilute the tenet of our law.

We will not exhume the graves of the dead that gave us freedom to audit if their sexual orientation excludes their effort. Their blood demands a greater argument. We will not reduce our equality to a matter of sexual orientation.

BelowTheBelt asks who others are excluded?

The “no-choice” strategy represents an attempt by various elements within the GLBT community (and “well-meaning” left-liberal politicians) to afford homosexuality the same privileged discursive status as heterosexuality: as an unquestioned, bio-psychological given.

The dissemination of the “knowledge” that homosexuality is not a choice attempts to empower gays and lesbians by placing it on the same semantic level as heterosexuality. Unfortunately, under such a framework, the attainment of rights and fair treatment become dependent on the fixity of one’s sexual aim: all those who do not demonstrate such a “stable” sexuality are then implicitly excluded from the nexus of rights and privileges.

I see no exclusions, none, from our duty to assure rights and privileges. This is the task of citizenship. Assuring that each of us are equal under the law is the minimum service to our Nation. Can even a strict Constitutionalist disagree?

Via FoucaultBlog

Forewarning of a people

Billionaires, the elite, and politicians use government chiefly as a means to get their hands on our country’s resources – to enrich themselves.

In South America have they finally awaken? Is it true? Daniel Hannan writing for The Telegraph concedes,

Cliff McReynolds, Landscape with Chase Manhattan Cathedral“The free-market parties that ran the region in the 1990s had their chance and failed.

“Rightists have been the chief authors of their own pulverisation.

“For, across Latin America, people were not so much voting for the autocrats as against the old elites.

“Even now, conservatives in South America don’t seem to grasp the scale of their defeat.

“Too many of them still see politics in Leftist terms as a class war. Their concern is to look after ‘their’ people rather than to construct an ideology capable of attracting genuine popular support.”


“Party democracy was seen to have failed, so people turned to strongmen.

When they, too, fail, where will their voters go?”

[dead link]

Funding voter opinion

Propaganda costs money too.

“Mother Jones magazine is reporting a hawkish advocacy group connected to the White House has hired a Virginia company to begin test-marketing language [my bold] [my big bold] that could be used to sell a war with Iran.

“The group Freedom’s Watch first made headlines this summer when it launched a $15 million ad campaign in support of the surge of American troops in Iraq.

“The group’s leadership includes former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and Bradley Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to President Bush. Freedom Group recently hired the company Martin Focus Groups in Alexandria, Virginia.

“One participant who was paid to be part of a focus group told Mother Jones: “The whole basis of the whole thing was, “we’re going to go into Iran and what do we have to do to get you guys to along with it.”

via Improprities

To repeat, through to 2006, the Bush administration spent at least $1.6 billion on public relations and advertising campaigns in just over 30 months.

Volume can damage hearing

cells of the inner earThe green ‘spiky things’ are stereocilia on the top of inner hair cells of the human ear.

Sound waves through the ear canal and vibrating our bones cause these tiny sensors to react, sending a polarity shift to the neurons colored red below.

If sound is too loud, these stereocilia and tiny hair cells will be damaged.

As time goes on, excess volume will deform enough stereocilia that our hearing will be greatly reduced.

This photo of the sensory cells of the ear by Dr. Sonja Pyott is a winner of an Olympus digital competition. More superb imagery at Science blog’s RetroSpectacle by Shelley Batts.

Godly foundation, indeed

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. – Thomas Jefferson

Breakthrough for depression

The rising cost of health care is a concern to most Americans.

If we move forward to Universal Healthcare, can we afford it? Are there cheaper approaches to the most common problems?

For example, depression is common and often requires several trials at great expense to discover workable therapy. The venerable Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research reveals that a direct approach to what bothers many patients may be one of the most innovative and cost effective remedies yet discovered.

Misery of depressionDepression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in America, affecting more than 60 million patients every year.

Pharmacological interventions dominate the medical management of these disorders and may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (Strattera), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (Emsam), benzodiazepines (Valium), azaspirodecanediones (BuSpar), and any number of similarly efficacious drugs or drug combinations prescribed in accordance with strict FDA guidelines, or not, based on the treating physician’s better judgment.

Since mental illness is a lifelong condition with no known cure, the successful psychopharmacological management of disorders such as depression or anxiety can be challenging. Treatment with medication almost inevitably results in side effects requiring additional medications leading to additional side effects necessitating still more medications in a self-perpetuating cycle that finally ends when the patient dies or the insurance runs out.

This report discusses two cases in which complete symptomatic relief was achieved following the administration of large sums of money to the patients.

The defeat of the Left

There are long lists of demands on the Left, at least the noisy Left, the dye of PETA, the scuba infiltrators against G8, the haters of heifers…. But I’ve not seen the strategy categorized before.

Today’s Left reacts in a wide variety of ways to the hegemony of global capitalism and its political supplement, liberal democracy.

It might, for example, accept the hegemony, but continue to fight for reform within its rules (this is Third Way social democracy).

Or, it accepts that the hegemony is here to stay, but should nonetheless be resisted from its ‘interstices’.

Or, it accepts the futility of all struggle, since the hegemony is so all-encompassing that nothing can really be done except wait for an outburst of ‘divine violence’ – a revolutionary version of Heidegger’s ‘only God can save us.’

Or, it recognises the temporary futility of the struggle. In today’s triumph of global capitalism, the argument goes, true resistance is not possible, so all we can do till the revolutionary spirit of the global working class is renewed is defend what remains of the welfare state, confronting those in power with demands we know they cannot fulfil, and otherwise withdraw into cultural studies, where one can quietly pursue the work of criticism.

Or, it emphasises the fact that the problem is a more fundamental one, that global capitalism is ultimately an effect of the underlying principles of technology or ‘instrumental reason’.

Or, it posits that one can undermine global capitalism and state power, not by directly attacking them, but by refocusing the field of struggle on everyday practices, where one can ‘build a new world’; in this way, the foundations of the power of capital and the state will be gradually undermined, and, at some point, the state will collapse (the exemplar of this approach is the Zapatista movement).

Or, it takes the ‘postmodern’ route, shifting the accent from anti-capitalist struggle to the multiple forms of politico-ideological struggle for hegemony, emphasising the importance of discursive re-articulation.

Or, it wagers that one can repeat at the postmodern level the classical Marxist gesture of enacting the ‘determinate negation’ of capitalism: with today’s rise of ‘cognitive work’, the contradiction between social production and capitalist relations has become starker than ever, rendering possible for the first time ‘absolute democracy’ (this would be Hardt and Negri’s position).

Slavoj Žižek from the International Centre for Humanities argues that none of these strategies are effective. We’re comfortable with them. Each approach has been integrated into our culture, becoming our culture, and thus is not inducive. We do not change when we’re comfortable.

Leaders have become so accustomed to the laundry list of impractical demands from the left that they now use them as sound bites with no intention to deliver on a pledge. How can they? The Left asks for what will never be.

Slavoj is asking for a different agitation. He wants a strategy that searches for small tasks, challenges that leaders cannot refuse.

“The lesson here is that the truly subversive thing is not to insist on ‘infinite’ demands we know those in power cannot fulfil.”

The Pirates of Psychiatry

Stahl's Psychopharmacologist's song, thumbnailPerhaps every patient, every doctor, every psychiatrist and everyone else will enjoy this video.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
now playing at YouTube,
I am proud to introduce,

I Am the Very Model of a Psychopharmacologist‘.

Via MindHacks. OmniBrain calls it ‘neuropsychopharmacological hilarity’.

The author and composer is Stephen M. Stahl, MD, PhD from the University of California San Diego, School of Medicine. He’s an internationally recognized clinician, researcher, and teacher in psychiatry with significant expertise in psychopharmacology.

Dr. Stahl says, “Music by Gilbert & Sullivan. Lyrics by who is obviously ADHD.”

Beyond the elevated

Archbishop Desmond Tutu“God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another.

“In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu also rebuked religious conservatives who said homosexuality was a choice.

“It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual.

“You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred.

“It’s like saying you choose to be black in a race-infected society.”

Lie until they believe

“President Bush, delivering another budget veto to a Democratic-led Congress whose spending he calls out-of-control, accuses leaders of “acting like a teenager with a new credit card”. From McClatchy last month:

George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson.

In fact, he’s arguably an even bigger spender. . . .

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors. . . ..

“He has presided over massive increases in almost every category . . . . a dramatic change of pace from most previous presidents.”

Salon notices that what Bush says and what he does are hilarious contradictions such as when he rants against the immorality of deficit spending.

Nietzsche said, warning about Hitler during the 1930s, “The easiest way to lead people by the nose is through their morality.”

Misogyny rules

We would not see Jihad were the hate of women revealed as the pride of men.

And we would not see a paternal G. W. Bush take us to the Last Days if Eve were never blamed and Evil never brought to the dinner table.

The issue of dominance colors too much of where conflict is born and dominance is first men over women. It’s not men that men seek to win.

There’s been so much in my years that changed the world and it may be a regard for sisters the most of it.

For example, Lennon’s Bed-In shocked to every front page, not the sheets but the woman with him was the first of firsts. I am too weak to explain how far women came these poor few years, but I am strong enough to say it is the first time in all of history.

All the Western World civilized. The punk retreated and treaty for the first time became the task of leaders. We must remember these good years. Ignoring the polyester and the pantsuit, it’s still the first era of pants for all of us.

No one reduces women by saying women have been reduced. Our human shadow can always hide by claiming the light it uses must be preserved. But it’s the brave women that wouldn’t shave and the loud women that wouldn’t leave the club and the thousands of women without a bra and it’s the millions of women that opened their own door…. These are the women that stopped the tricks of male dominance. These are the few decades without war.

Unless men stop the dance of dominance, we will war. And women will pay.

Thus misogyny remains critical.

The China Burger

Why have there been several recalls of meat this year?

Some inspectors are saying it’s because processing plants are tolerating E.coli.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

One federal inspector calls it the “E. coli loophole.” Another says, “Nobody would buy it if they knew.”

The officials are referring to the little-discussed fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has deemed it acceptable for meat companies to cook and sell meat on which E. coli, a bacterium that can sicken and even kill humans, is found during processing.

The “E. coli loophole” affects millions of pounds of beef each year that tests positive for the presence of E. coli O157:H7, a particularly virulent strain of the bacterium.

Extruding beefThe agency allows companies to put this E. coli-positive meat in a special category — “cook only“.

Cooking the meat, the USDA and producers say, destroys the bacteria and makes it safe to eat as precooked hamburgers, meat loaf, crumbled taco meat and other products.

But some USDA inspectors say the “cook only” practice means that higher-than-appropriate levels of E. coli are tolerated in packing plants, raising the chance that clean meat will become contaminated. They say the “cook only” practice is part of the reason for this year’s sudden rise in incidents of E. coli contamination.

“All the product that is E. coli positive, they put a ‘cooking only’ tag on it,” said one inspector, who like other federal inspectors interviewed asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs. “They [companies] will test, and everything that’s positive, they slap that label on.”

There is no evidence that “cook only” meat has directly sickened consumers. But some inspectors contend that the practice conceals significantly higher levels of E. coli bacteria in packing plants than the companies admit to. That’s because companies that find E. coli are allowed to shift that meat immediately into “cook only” lines, without reporting it to the USDA.

There’s a newly emerging dangerous form of E.coli bacteria known as O157:H7. The temperature high enough to kill it is 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Walkin’ through disease

UofC CAVEman 4D Virtual Human Body on the floorCAVEman is the world’s first complete computer model of a human body.

It’s also a walk-in display unit enabling research and surgical planning.

At the University of Calgary, they call it a “research Holodeck” where the 4D human model floats in space, projected from three walls and the floor below.

UofC CAVEman 4D Virtual Human Body, through the neckCAVEman animation, small“CAVEman is designed to look like a real human, and can also be sized to any scale we want,” says the director Christoph Sensen.

A large version of this early animation is here.

When do you really know?

Perhaps more on E8 and Garret Lisi later. By far my favorite thoughts for this weekend.

When do you know?
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. – Albert Einstein

When do you really know?
“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to a string theorist.” [comments link]

When can you say what you know?
The mark of a great scientific idea is a complete lack of any comprehensible relation to what many others have successfully done before. [link]

Let me live in peril, please

Dear Authorities,
Have I got a deal for you? I promise to stop worrying about you if you promise to stop worrying about me.

Yes really.

I do.


I know I’m writing very short paragraphs and banging the space bar a lot but this is a radical proposal and I want it to sink in.

The nub of it is that I’m going to accept responsibility for my own well-being. And if it all goes wrong, I promise I won’t come bleating. I’ll just take misfortune on the chin.

I know you may find that hard to believe but it will all be laid out in the contract in black and white.

Read the rest of Joe Bennet’s letter here.

Brits call Bush a mouse

If profitable, war against evildoers.
If profitable, protect evildoers.

Here’s what a British newspaper says about this convenient Bush Doctrine:

How are the mighty fallen!

President George Bush, the crusader king who would draw the sword against the forces of Darkness and Evil, he who said there was only “them or us”, who would carry on, he claimed, an eternal conflict against “world terror” on our behalf; he turns out, well, to be a wimp.

A clutch of Turkish generals and a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign on behalf of Turkish Holocaust deniers have transformed the lion into a lamb.

No, not even a lamb – for this animal is, by its nature, a symbol of innocence – but into a household mouse, a little diminutive creature which, seen from afar, can even be confused with a rat. Am I going too far? I think not.

The “story so far” is familiar enough.

Thumbnail, Armenian GenocideIn 1915, the Ottoman Turkish authorities carried out the systematic genocide of one and a half million Christian Armenians.

There are photographs, diplomatic reports, original Ottoman documentation, the process of an entire post-First World War Ottoman trial, Winston Churchill and Lloyd George and a massive report by the British Foreign Office in 1915 and 1916 to prove that it is all true.

Even movie film is now emerging – real archive footage taken by Western military cameramen in the First World War – to show that the first Holocaust of the 20th century, perpetrated in front of German officers who would later perfect its methods in their extermination of six million Jews, was as real as its pitifully few Armenian survivors still claim.

But the Turks won’t let us say this.

They have blackmailed the Western powers – including our own British Government, and now even the US – to kowtow to their shameless denials.

Link to a war crimes analysis:

Armenian Genocide – 1915-1918 – 1,500,000 deaths.

No Allied power came to the aid of the Armenian Republic and it collapsed.

After the successful obliteration of the people of historic Armenia during the Armenian Genocide, the Turks demolished any remnants of Armenian cultural heritage including priceless masterpieces of ancient architecture, old libraries and archives. The Turks even leveled entire cities such as the once thriving Kharpert, Van and the ancient capital at Ani, to remove all traces of the three thousand year old civilization.

Adolf Hitler noted the half-hearted reaction of the world’s great powers to the plight of the Armenians giving orders to “kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?”

Just a reminder

Where the money goes.It’s not said enough, where the money goes. We know very little about wealth, about the rich, about where our dollars sink. We investigate too little. We are blind about our prosperity.

We forget that even ideas and beliefs are funded.

I can’t find an update for 2007. But I bet you didn’t know the Bush administration spent at least $1.6 billion on public relations and advertising campaigns in just over 30 months.

Oddish little Dada

I just found that I rank #1 for the term ‘optimusing‘ – musing with optimism. Somebody is hitting on the term over and over and I grew curious. I suppose it’s a new blog author! Wouldn’t it be nice to say, go ahead, no need to be reluctant, use the word if you want. Maybe I’ll repost. But I had fun remembering and optimusing.

We are where?

There is a task for humanity methinks.

Humanity must have a great want of a superb future.

This is necessary. We fail too easily unless we are deeply invigorated by our path ahead. We must ask this of ourselves.

When I wrote these verses quite awhile ago, I was feeling the gift of hopefulness – an easy step for any child, but an an adult must preserve this ‘grand forwardness’, if this is a correct way to put it.

Where is the rich magnificence
That tender children sense
To drift our atmospheric thought
Over stony vision lost in social knot?

Where is the gifted deep intelligence
That leaps beyond the timid fence,
That piercing probe of quickest wit
Lance the gripping past, be done of it?

Where is the blanket of community
That o’er the womb of opportunity
Orphan’d deeds do sprout and climb
To strengthen hearts that brave through time?

Where are these coasts of future’s rhyme
That soothe the dusts that fall in time,
That pound remembrance to the heart,
To build our peace, our poise, in every part?

Sometimes I say to myself “Give me the wisdom to be a fool!” if foolishness is what’s needed for us to believe in ourselves and bring ourselves a world that excites and pleases us.

China’s submarine surprise

American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk – a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.

According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The Americans had no idea China’s fast-growing submarine fleet had reached such a level of sophistication, or that it posed such a threat.

One Nato figure said the effect was “as big a shock as the Russians launching Sputnik” – a reference to the Soviet Union’s first orbiting satellite in 1957 which marked the start of the space age.

The incident, which took place in the ocean between southern Japan and Taiwan, is a major embarrassment for the Pentagon. [story]

The Lonely are losing hormones

5-alpha-reductase type I is reduced nearly 50 percent in lonesome mice.

In lonely humans too?

The decrease of 5-alpha-reductase type I may impair the function of circuits leading to the amygdala and explain the anxiety and aggression that result from social isolation….

“Humans respond to similar stress in very similar ways.”

Morford’s ‘Outrage Fatigue’

“I know how it is.”, Mark Morford begins, “You’ve had it up to here. There are only so many stories about blood and death and pain you can take….”

“Your nerves are raw and your heart is tired and the media will just not shut the hell up already….”

“It is outrage fatigue, and it is epidemic.

“It’s that feeling that we are being hammered unlike any time in recent history with so many appalling and disgusting and violently un-American incidents and scandals and manipulations that our b.s.-detectors are smoking like an old V-8 engine on a hot summer’s day and it’s all we can do to get up every day without screaming.

“What’s more, it’s not the mere quantity of moral insults, either. It’s the bizarre absurdity of the subject matter, the things we are being forced to consider, or reconsider, that seem to make it all so horrific.

Go ahead, click here, nourish your rant.

“Smart, informed outrage engages you and fires your heart, your mind. It is fuel.”