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Holding page - this is for an experiment. Back later...


Oct. 26th, 2011 11:15 pm
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Can anyone remember who lent me Moxyland (the book)? I think it was Claire but I'm not really sure. Anyway - they can have it back, I didn't make it beyond p30... 
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As a long-time reader of Ed Brayton's excellent blog on politics, church / state issues, etc I followed it when it moved to Freethought Blogs and started reading the RSS feed for the whole site. This has introduced me to a lot of new interesting writers including the chap behind Camels with Hammers (from Nietzsche "Why a cammel hammers the idols of faith").

For some of the folks that read that I thought you might be interested in some of his posts on philosophy so I've been saving some up - here you go:

The Facts About Intrinsic and Instrumental Goods and The Cultural Construction of Intrinsic Goods

Nietzsche: Moral Absolutism and Moral Relativism Are Equally Childish

Nietzsche and Morality Reader Challenge

Nietzsche: We Cannot Selflessly Investigate Morality
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Broaching certain subjects can be tricky - especially when you're not looking for people to make a fuss or you worry it sounds like you're trying to make it "all about you". However, being embarrassed about the state of your own mental health is as stupid as being embarrassed about the myriad other things we often can't control that people often try to hide from those around them.

Short version; a few months ago I started to get occasional episodes of what I call 'bad mental health days'. This means either (small-d) depression (feelings of worthlessness), panic attacks or periods of not being able to think clearly. These can be very unpleasant - for example when I'm in a depressive period I quite literally cannot remember what it was ever like to not be in that situation. However, so far I have been very fortunate that, one or two occasions aside, these tend to last less than a day - the panic attacks mostly lasting less than four hours. This, combined with the fact that these 'bad mental health days' average less than a handful of days a month mean that it's certainly something I can cope with, especially given support from Annie.

I have read two very good essays recently about people living with self-acknowledged mental health issues. In each case their strictly rational worldview has enabled them to focus on what they know is true regardless of how they currently feel. For example, comparing feelings of deep worthlessness to an objective view of one's achievements makes it much easier to cope with such thoughts by putting them down to just 'bad neurochemistry'.

They were "Depression, Rationality, and the Difficulty of Perspective" by Greta Christina and "Sick Though I Am, I Hold A Cautious Hope" by JT Eberhard.

Anyway, I wanted to be open about this as I have recently been embarrassed when Annie has brought the issue up in front of friends and, as I said above, that's really rather foolish. So, be aware that some days I might be a bit 'off' and may act somewhat less rationally than usual or need more space (or a hug). However, please don't walk on eggshells or ask me if I'm okay every five minutes. 1 in 4 adults in the UK suffer from mental health issues at some time in their lives. Sometimes I just need to focus on getting through these spells and getting on with my life.

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I'm slowly making my way through the absolutely excellent Future of the Constitution series. The one I just finished was "Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Technology in 2030" and has the opening section:

"Larry, a paediatrician, and David, a wills lawyer, meet in their late 20s, fall in love, and marry on June 15, 2025 in Indianapolis. Three
years later they take in a foster child for eight months, and find the experience rewarding. By 2030, they are well-enough established in their careers to think about having their own child. Larry’s 24-year-old sister Marge has agreed to donate her eggs, and David will provide the sperm, so that each partner will have a genetic connection with the child. They work with an agency that matches couples with gestational surrogates, and settle on Janice, a 34-year-old nurse and mother of two, who is willing to help them in exchange for a $75,000 fee. In the process, Larry and David come to realize that they would prefer to have a male child that shares their sexual orientation. Reproductive cloning won’t do, the FDA hasn’t yet certified it as safe and effective. But gene studies show a strong correlation between five genes and sexual orientation in both males and females.

Larry and David discuss with their doctors the feasibility of screening the embryos they create with Marge’s eggs for male genes linked to
a homosexual orientation. The clinic doctors are experts in embryo screening and alteration, but cannot guarantee that the resulting embryos will in fact turn out to be homosexual. To increase the certainty, they will insert additional “gay gene” sequences in the embryos before they are placed in Janice. Embryos not used will be frozen for later use or for stem cell technology to create eggs from Larry’s skin cells so that the resulting child would be the genetic offspring of both Larry and David."

It then goes on to briefly discuss the ethics of sex selection of sperm and embryos as well as gene implantation - all for selective rather
than medical reasons. The author, a highly distinguished bio-ethicist, comes to the conclusion that prospective parents, such as Larry and David, have a 'right to procreate' and therefore anything that doesn't cause harm to others should be allowed in the objective to become fathers. He goes on to say that in his opinion genetic selection (or alteration) should be allowed as it is no different than giving the child the best after-birth care you can (e.g. good parenting).

The question for me lies in whether genes would be altered to remove a potential harm, for example cystic fibroses, or instead to attempt to create a 'good' - such as increased intelligence. In my opinion allowing choice of gender and orientation is a step too far. However, obviously this is a difficult topic. It reminds me of a similar thought experiment I read some time ago about a deaf couple wanting to select embryos to have a deaf child and whether this was wrong. If you say that it is creating an inferior child then what does that say about your opinion of the deaf parents?

Anyway I'm always interested in quandaries like this so if you know of any good sources of examples please let me know

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I never post to FB - I only kept an account there to forward what I write here and on Twitter to people who use that system. Today I found out that FB tracks other sites you go to (the ones with a 'like' button) even when you're logged out of FB. That's it - I've permanently deleted my account.
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This video makes me very emotional - check out the whole Sagan Series.

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A friend of mine recently posted a podcast by John Grey. Rather than give it a good fisking myself here's a link to a Butterflys and Wheels post.

For a good measure here's something on William Lane Craig from Cammels with Hammers.
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I've been waiting for the people I read online to have enough time to put up any comment they were going to. Here's a sample:

Police Militarization After 9/11

Spencerk Ackerman on the Effect of 9/11

The Courage to Be Safe and Free

ACLU Releases 9/11 Anniversary Report

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‎‚Äč"A person is a success if they get up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do." Bob Dylan

I don't believe this is true, do you?


Aug. 31st, 2011 12:54 am
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The lovely (and suddenly highly LJ-prolific) [ profile] etceteracat said:

> In ENTIRELY different news, I have decided that when I grow up, I'm going to win the lottery and then spend all my time travelling around
> the globe for the express purposes of going to gigs and festivals and being a sorta hobo music fangirl. (you can't see it, but this life choice's
> label text is purple)

Which after this excellent weekend at Shrewsbury folk festival I am coming round to seeing the wisdom of :-).

Let's see, over the weekend I went to 3 ceilidhs in one day (but was only physically capable of dancing at two), saw many excellent bands I'd seen before (Bellowhead, Show of Hands, Oysterband) and several new ones (Lucy Ward, Blackbeards Tea Party, Wilson Brothers, Spiers and Boden (twice!), Gerry O'Connor and the Cecil Sharp Project) and got to spend lots of time with extremely lovely people.

What's not to like? :-D

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[ profile] prunesquallormd and I have been having an interesting conversation in the comments of another of my posts about the rights people have after death. Simon maintains that the only people that have rights or are subject to laws are the living. I.e. wills are only about the rights of the living and the stated wished of the deceased don't matter (if I understand correctly about what he's said). Similarly control of one's organs after death (should life-saving transplants be allowed even if the deceased strongly expressed a will against it before death). Similarly the use of one's likeness after death - is that only controlled by one's beneficiaries or is there a law-based assumption if no-one stands to inherit?

One of the things he brought up was the state of current UK law. Is there an overview anywhere on this kind of thing (ho ho) or is it a question of tracking down individual case law to answer specific questions?
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Israeli family can freeze eggs of daughter killed in road accident.

"An Israeli family has been given legal permission to extract and freeze eggs from the ovaries of their 17-year-old daughter, who died in a road accident. The ruling by the magistrates court in the town of Kfar Sava sets a legal precedent in Israel and, according to a lawyer with 10 years experience in similar cases, is possibly the first of its kind in the world."
Another modern day ethical dilemma. Personally I think it's abhorrent that a child could be created without the permission of one of the parents.

What do other people think?


Aug. 12th, 2011 09:51 pm
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Days when even the Torygraph is saying that the state of the current troubles is caused by rot from the top.
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