Friday, July 29, 2005

More on Stem Cells...
Republican Senator, and Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, who has aspirations for the White House in 2008, put himself front and center on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. According to Sen. Frist (a doctor when he's not being a politician), the current national policy as regards embryonic stem cell research is short-sighted and incorrect, and that more Fed'ral funding of such research should be approved, despite the moral, ethical and scientific problems this entails.

Senator Frist has used the same rationale that all other advocates of this reasearch have used since the topic first became known to the general public; the potential for such research to cure (insert your favorite disease or malady here) is unlimited. The only way we will have a cure for (insert your favorite disease or malady here) is for this research to continue and expand.

Let's get a thing or two straight. To begin with, the argument in favor for stem cell research is merely another attempt to allow abortions in this country. However, unlike all the other excuses for unfettered abortion ("health of the mother", which has been expanded to cover a woman's "feelings" or "state of mind today" and is sufficiently vague enough in a mental-health sense), the rationale for the pro argument here is logically sound. The argument runs that since the research has potential, and we aren't exploring that potential, we should not miss an opportunity for what might be. In other words, it hasn't been proven this research can do anything, but until it's proven worthless we should persue it.

Now for the facts.

From what I have been able to gather, the most promising stem cell research (to date) has involved adult stem cells. I personally have read (in various publications) that adult stem cells are showing results in the fight against heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and in one instance, healed a girl in Germany with severe, multiple skull fractures. Stems cells recovered from umbillical cords (i.e. cord blood cells) have shown similar promise. Most research involving embryonic stem cells has done little more than foster tumors and death in laboratory animals. Most of the private sector reseach in stem cells takes place in adult stem cells and umbilical blood cells.

As of present, I am unaware of any institution --- scientific, academic or industrial --- that is pouring research money into embryonic stem cell research. Why? Because the limited research thus far has not lived up to the expected results. So, those who wish to continue this research must depend upon government funding. This, of course, dovetails very nicely with those who wish to continue abortion in the face of a potential societal change in which abortion is beginning to be seen for the abomination it is. It's a great marriage of convenience: the abortion rights people get to keep their pet project alive and relevant, the scientists get reasearch materials (frozen embryos designated for destruction anyway) and money they normally would not get. Everyone is happy.

Except Senator Frist. He's going to be very sorry, because when the social conservatives, the right-to-lifers, go to vote in the Republican primaries a year from now, they're going to remember that the Senator a) flipped his position and b) no longer truly espouses all aspects of the right-to-life movement. He will have flipped the bird to the very people he will need to secure the republican nomination.

Which is just as well, since I wouldn't have voted for him anyway.

However, I'm leery of anything that claims to be a cure for everything from chronic halitosis to severe spinal cord injuries when little or nothing is actually known. This is all speculation. And it's all a transparent (and disgusting) argument intended to perpetuate a political agenda, whether that agenda is legalized murder or attempting to vault yourself into higher political office.

Everyone involved should be ashamed for their dishonesty and duplicity.

In the meantime, let the scientists do what they can with what they can, and keep the politics out of it all.
Yet Another "Month" to Put on My Calendar...
I've just learned that July is American Beer Month or somesuch. Had I known earlier, I would have made it a point to go out and buy a case of foreign beer, quaffing one a day in a Quixotic protest against the blandness of American suds.

You can get more info on American Beer Month here:

Now I would normally support my country on just about everything, but not this. American beer is watered down, usually flavorless and has an alcohol content sufficent to disinfect most cuts, but not conducive to getting a good buzz. Excepting specialty and micro-brewers (who, if you ask me, often make the best beer in the country), we've been sentenced to a lifetime of Budwesier, Coors and Miller. I will put Sam Adams on the "not-too-bad" to "pretty decent" list. The passing years have seen us subjected to "Light" Beers (i.e. even more watered down), no-carb beer, beers with different colors, beers-in-different-shaped/colored/labeled-bottles-that-is-the same- crap-we-sold-before, beers pretending to be foreign. We've been introduced to dubious customs such as submerging fruit in beer (I'm sorry, but unless you're drinking beer made with actual Mexican water, you're really just engaging in pretense, and ignorant pretense, at that). There are Specialty bars in which you can sample actual "foreign" beers (I know of one place in NYC that serves upwards of 200 foreign brands) brewed especially for the American market (i.e. changed to conform to gov't regulation) at ridiculous prices. I once paid $27 for a bottle of Czech Pilsner -- it was only several years later that I learned that what I paid for was barely distinguishable from Bud. I wasn't the student of the art of brewing then as I am now (which is still not saying much).

All are piss water. I prefer foreign beers, particularly Canadian, English, and Belgian. Molson (the Canadian kind, not the watered down slop sold here) kicks the crap out of Bud. Stella Artois (Belgian) destroys anything that describes itself as beer around here. Very few things come as close to a religious experience than down a nice, cold, real Foster's on a hot day. You would be surprised at the difference between Budweiser in the States and the actual, original Czech product. Unfortunately, to get these beers (in their natural state) one must leave the country.

Export versions of most foreign beers have to be tailored to the American market, and this tailoring, more often than not, has nothing to do with consumer's wishes, but government regulation. The government regulates alcohol content (3.2% for most beers, 3.4-3.7% for "Ice-brewed" beers), a legacy of Prohibition.

Regulation of beer in a society in which people have access to harder intoxicants (scotch, whiskey, etc) is ridiculous. Especially when the underlying reasons for the regulations are near on 70 years old. Perhaps it's time we took another look at why our beer is so crappy before we start celebrating it. Of course, I doubt it will ever happen for political reasons.

When this country is capable of producing a beer that doesn't taste or feel like barley immersed in Pepsi Cola, I'll celebrate it. In the meantime, I'll continue to choose vodka.
Hook, Line and Over the Top...
Interesting article about PETA this morning and the impact the organization sometimes has on regular folks:

A few points about this kind of over-the-top nonsense, but first, a word from our sponsor:

I kind of like fishing (although I've only tried it four or five times in my lifetime). It does have a relaxing quality to it, and it does demand discipline and patience. All in all, not a bad way to pass a day, and the potential rewards of this activity (i.e. food) make it a productive use of one's time. While I do enjoy the idea of fishing for sport, I somehow find the idea of competetive fishing somewhat laughable. I further find Corporate Sponsorship of a Competetive Fishing Event patently ridiculous. But that's just me.

Be that as it may, we must now move on from the world of sport to the world which PETA seems to inhabit.

I find it quite strange that an organization that claims to stand for the humane (note how the root of that word is "human"?) treatment of our animal friends would resort to a picture of dog suffering with a fishhook through it's bloody mouth in order to make a point about the "brutality" of fishing. Although it's obvious that the suffering pooch was intended to make people think about what happens to fish by presenting the fishing analogy to us complete with an animal that most people love and feel an affinity for, it was really designed for shock value.

And that's what PETA (and many other organizations that cannot make their case on logic and reasonable argument) are reduced to --- shocking sensibilities and then pretending as if they've done something profound.

In the meantime, there's a new business in Pittsburgh that has to try and attract customers with an unatrractive advertisement above their front door. Yep, a picture of a bloodied and tortured dog stuck on your roof does wonders for business.
I Thought As Much...
Read a fantastic column this morning by Julia Gorin on Jewish World in which she was discussing the weird sort of mental disconnect that occurs in the aftermath of a terrorist bombing here in the West. There's some sort of virus floating around that causes some people to go into fits of apoplexy in the attempt to protect Muslims from consequences arising from the actions of their fellow Muslims (of the terrorist variety). It's quite an insightful column and, as always, Julia Gorin is a wit.

However, what caught my eye was this little paragraph near the end of the column:

"Finally, as more details emerge linking al Qaida and Iraq to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, we begin to understand why authorities never caught the second man responsible: They were looking for John Doe when they should have been looking for Mohamed Doe. "

You know, I've always thought that Timothy McVeigh fried awfully fast. When you get down to it, his trial and execution all took place within a year. You can't get serial killers tried and convicted that quickly, nor pedophiles, but somehow, McVeigh was fast-tracked for a lethal injection.

Looking back, it seems that the powers that were in those days (The Most Ethical Administration in History!) were so enthused about the prospect of blaming McVeigh on Militias, Rush Limbaugh and Evangelical Christians that they seem to have forgotten something: like getting in formation. Truthful, verifiable information.

And now I know why Sandy Berger was sneaking documents out of the National Archives in order to destroy them: Did McVeigh give information to the authorities about Al Qeada or Saddam Hussein? Information that the Clinton Administration deliberately downplayed or willfully ignored? And why is it that Terry Nichols is still alive?

I can't make any accusations because I have no proof of anything. But it sure makes you scratch your head.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Why She Frightens Me...
The tabula rasa which is supposed to be my brain kinda kicked into gear this afternoon after reading an article in the NY Daily News (suitable for wrapping fish) concerning Her Heinous, Mrs. Hillary Clinton.

Now it's been obvious to anyone born more than 5 minutes ago that the woman has had her eyes on re-occupying the White House (the Executive Suite this time) since she was evicted by that nasty little tradition we have of only allowing sitting Presidents to hold power for two terms. Depending on your point of view, she wants back in because she lusts after power, left some Rose Law Firm billing records in the kitchen junk drawer or perhaps to just have the opportunity to stroll down Memory Lane. It makes no difference why she wants to be there, the fact is that she's plotted her return with all the precision of a military operation.

This, of course, ties many people's intestines into knots. These people fall into two categories; a) Republicans, and for those not terribly politcal-minded, b) sentient (P.S. I consider myself both).

I do not fear a second Clinton presidency, per se. What I do fear is a second Clinton Presidency armed with the Patriot Act and an actual shooting war to exploit. I fear the first because we already know how the Clinton Machine deals with it's enemies --- it smears them, exposes them, ruins their lives. It used to do this with private detectives and Executive Orders to various arms of federal law enforcement.

Armed with a Patriot Act (which just about every democrat worth his/her/it's salt opposes solely because they don't control the apparatus or application thereof) a Clinton White House would be free to try and work in the dark on tearing their opponents apart. I say try because the Patriot Act still has limits (probable cause, court orders, etc), and our Constitutional protections haven't been revoked (yet), but we're talking about people for whom little things like legal pleasantries are mere incoveniences.

When you stop to consider that the Clintons used various organs (no pun intended) of the Fed'ral Gubmint to tarnish Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, Henry Hyde, and a host of others by siccing the IRS on them, having their FBI files turned over to a bar bouncer in White House employ, you begin to see what I mean. When you stop to consider this is the same administration that once burned 80 people to death after a 51 day seige to "stop the child abuse taking place in that compound" or the same bunch that battered down a door in Florida on a holiday weekend morning, machine guns drawn, to forcibly "repatriate" a 6 year old boy, you begin to see what I mean.

The spectre of President Clinton (Mrs.) doesn't frighten me so long as the courts continue to work they way they're supposed to or Republicans maintain control of Congress. Preferably both. If both courts and congress stay the same, then Mrs. Clinton is merely a mouthpiece. She will yack her head off and accomplish nothing (much like her husband). Should Republican control start slipping in 2006, we're possibly looking at a potential disaster.

I'm cleaning my guns just in case.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Never Visiting Great Adventure Again...
From the website of the Islamic Circle of North America:

"Insha Allah, on September 16, 2005, the New Jersey theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure, is set to be transformed as 'The Great Muslim Adventure Day', an event organized by ICNA. This event is designed to provide entertainment for the entire family! Alhamdulillah, the entire park is reserved for Muslims!"

Now if I was a customer of Six Flags, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that place again for at least a month. I can see it all now: customers will complain that they will not enter the park unti every square inch had been swept for explosives --- five times. Suspicious packages will be reported 2000 times a day in the aftermath. Camel poop will foul the parking lot for years to come.

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?

However, it does have it's up side: now the FBI will have the chance to photograph every single Muslim that enters the park. Protests will be held for weeks prior to and after the event as the local community makes it clear that they will stay away from the park because of security concerns. The Northeastern Beastiality Club will sue for their right to a "bring your four-legged lover to the park day". Local municipalities will send the bills for the massive overtime for increased police and emergency services presence to Six Flags.

I wonder, now that I'll know where they'll all be that day, if anyone would mind if I hijacked a Royal Saudi Airline 747 full of pork rinds and plowed it into the park?

Of course, I jest.

Or do I?