Philosophy & Ethics

There was a time when being a journalist was a higher calling - and that higher calling was truth.    Somewhere in there it became well-known that journalists were a little more liberal than most and that was bad.   Well, why wouldn't they be?   Journalists, of the old school, graduated high school and took jobs at small newspapers.   They covered the late night crime beat, they did obituaries - they saw how in some cases people who didn't have much of a way out did things people with money and food say they would never dream of doing.   

In any civilized society, people should not starve.   I'd be more suspicious of young journalists who were not liberals in that environment.   Who doesn't want to believe we can create a better world?
What do presidential candidate Barack Obama and Snapple Iced Tea have in common? Patricia Turner, professor of African American and African studies at the University of California, Davis, whose research focuses on urban legends and conspiracy theories, notes that Snapple had to grapple with two false rumors when it became a sensation in 1993.

Did you ever hear that Snapple has ties to pro-life extremists or that it was owned by the Ku Klux Klan?  We haven't either but apparently that's what some people said and some people believed. 
I heard the Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari say today that he had been "eternally displaced" ever since he had become a child refuge in World War II. The recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize recalled his wartime suffering as the impetus for his lifetime work in peacemaking.

Thank you, Martti Ahtisaari, for being you. Congratulations!

I recall that Deepak Chopra designated seven practices for peace in his book "Peace is the Way".(1)

Friday (Creating for Peace)

Saturday (Sharing for Peace)

Sunday (Being for Peace)

Monday (Thinking for Peace)

Tuesday (Feeling for Peace)

Wednesday (Speaking for Peace)
As a scientist, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Or into your own arm, and occasionally, your own heart. Autoexperimentation is the very risky practice of wildcat science. If you can’t find an animal model for a virus, inoculate yourself. If you can’t find a volunteer, step up. Several autoexperimenting scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Nobel Hearts Werner Forssmann won the Nobel in 1956 for performing the first cardiac catheterization.

You may have seen it last week. There were charges of fraud levelled at the Obama campaign because donations from names like 'Doodad Pro' were not reported by his campaign. In the last election, there were claims that Republicans invoked anti-fraud measures to suppress legitimate voting by groups that tend to vote Democratic.

In both cases, there was more hyperbole than substance. There is fraud, but the immediacy of the internet has magnified it into being much more substantial than it is and University at Buffalo Law School Professor James A. Gardner cautions against giving too much importance to charges of voter fraud in American elections and supposed incompetence in administering elections. The process in the overwhelming majority of elections, he says, is working well.



Oct 06 2008 | 1 comment(s)

Nachrichten aus Großbritannien

Government spies could scan every call, text and email

Ministers are considering a £12 billion plan to monitor the e-mail, telephone and internet browsing records of every person in Britain. This is the heading of an article in today's Daily Telegraph. Two questions: Would it work? (Especially with our government's record of sloppy data handling) How would one escape over the Firewall?

White people, even children as young as 10, avoid talking about race because any opinion may appear prejudiced, according to new research, but that approach often backfires as blacks tend to view that approach as evidence of prejudice, especially when race is clearly relevant.

These results are from two separate sets of experiments led by researchers from Tufts University and Harvard Business School. Their findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology(1) and the September issue of Developmental Psychology(2).

“Efforts to talk about race are fraught with the potential for misunderstandings,” said the studies’ lead author, Evan Apfelbaum, a PhD candidate at Tufts University. “One way that whites try to appear unbiased is to avoid talking about race altogether, a tendency we refer to as strategic colorblindness.”

Obviously in the instance of a severe pandemic influenza outbreak, doctors, nurses, and firefighters are essential but so are truck drivers, communications personnel, and utility workers, according to the conclusions of a Johns Hopkins University article in Biosecurity and Bioterrorism.

The report, led by Nancy Kass, Sc.D, Deputy Director of Public Health for the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, provides ethical guidance for pandemic planning that ensures a skeletal infrastructure remain intact at all times. Dr. Kass says, "when preparing for a severe pandemic flu it is crucial for leaders to recognize that if the public has limited or no access to food, water, sewage systems, fuel and communications, the secondary consequences may cause greater sickness death and social breakdown than the virus itself."

Congressional appropriations are largely stalled, with the exception of defense spending:
Congress has made little progress on the federal government’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, which begins October 1, leaving federal funding for research and development (R&D) in limbo... The federal investment in basic and applied research totals $58.2 billion at the start of FY 2009, a small $244 million or 0.4 percent increase due to large research increases in the finalized DOD [Dept. of Defense], DHS [Dept. of Homeland Security], and VA {Veterans Administration] budgets offset by cuts in research funding for agencies such as NSF, DOE Office of Science, and NIH that received supplemental 2008 appropriations in June but lose those funds in the CR. After adjusting for inflation, the federal investment in research could decline for the fifth year in a row in 2009.
It's all going to defense R&D: