June 17th, 2008


[links] Link salad for a Tuesday, climate change and Gitmo

Self-sufficiencymarydell sent me this link in honor of my recent medical issues.

Man vs horse race — Not that! (Thaks to lt260.)

Making Old Muscle Young — Researchers boost growth of muscle stem cells to stop age-related muscle deterioration. This is worth living in the 21st century for.

Federal Lands in the US — Another interesting image from Strange Maps.

Even the Antarctic winter cannot protect Wilkins Ice Shelf — The liberal myth of global warming suckers a major Antarctic ice shelf. Even the climate is a traitor on climate change! Don’t they have Rush Limbaugh down there?

In Praise of Oklahoma — Money shot: Just recently, Inhofe informed the nation that global warming was “the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state.” Got to love conservatives. Inhofe is a sitting Republican senator elected by a majority (or at least a plurality) of voters in Oklahoma. And people wonder why this country is in the ditch, with thinking like that in charge. It’s so cute what Republicans believe. (Snurched from I forget where in the blogosphere.)

Report Questions Pentagon Accounts — A WaPo story about where the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere originated. Let’s just the say the “few bad apples” theory isn’t looking any more credible than it did before. Money shot: “Senior officials in the United States government sought out information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.” Remember back when the GOP claimed to be all about the rule of law? Just more pixie dust from the American Right. Are you proud of your Republican Party?

C.E. Petit on the Boumediene ruling — This is the recent Gitmo ruling from the Supreme Court, and he’s specifically commenting on Scalia’s shallow opportunism (my words, not his) in the dissent.

George Will on the same question — He calls BS on McCain’s comments. Interesting. Clearly, much like the Wilkins Ice Shelf, the liberals have gotten to Will as well, since with this column he is now objectively pro-terrorist.

Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 259
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.


[culture] The ethics of contact

I had the radio on briefly during my lunch break, and learned the startling (to me) information that there may be as many as 60 different “uncontacted tribes” in the upper Amazon Basin. Apparently about 45 are in Brazil, and 15 in Peru. The discussion was that Peru is more interested in opening resource exploitation than in cultural protection, while Brazil has an active, long-term policy to keep their “uncontacted tribes” safely isolated. Many of these tribes are thought to be the descendants of refugees and tribal elements fleeing violent contact in prior centuries, and virtually all of them discourage outsiders by violent and even fatal means. Some of them are referred to as “The People of the Arrow.”

The past 500 years of European history have drawn some stark lessons in the ethics of contact. At least part of the Brazilian policy is based on the abysmal healthcare consequences of contact — past tribal contacts have lead to epidemic deaths within weeks of first encounter not unlike the general decimation of tribes in the Americas in the early 16th century. (See 1491 by Charles C. Mann [ Amazon ] for more on this.)

I began turning over the ethics of contact in my head. European, and specifically Anglophone, history on this topic is staggeringly ugly, more so than most of us are willing to admit. Yet at the same time, I am bothered by the notion of leaving people without the opportunity to choose sanitation, healthcare, reduced infant mortality, education access, increased life expectancy, and the whole array of life choices attendant on modern culture when it is functioning correctly.

It is very hard for me to see what is right here. The question is essentially moot for me personally — I am highly unlikely to ever need to make a choice regarding an uncontacted tribe. At the same time, I can argue a number of sides of this question with equal passion. And I do appreciate the value of an extremely conservative, preservationist approach to the uncontacted tribes. Some mistakes can never be undone.

I believe I shall explore this in fiction. Your thoughts?

Bonus question: Would differing immune system requirements be one of the greatest dangers to a time traveller?

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.