Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Noteworthy...

  • Don Watkins of Anger Management has announced plans to create "an online magazine, Axiomatic." Axiomatic is described as "a publication for Objectivists who wish to write seriously about Objectivist topics that are inappropriate for mainstream publications, and who do not wish to write for anti-Objectivist publications. " Giving the extraordinary high quality of Don's posts, this is something to look forward to. You can read the complete announcement here.
  • With the vocal conservative opposition to federally funded stem cell research, it is easy to forget that there are also elements on the left that are skeptical of this research. Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society, writes in TomPaine.com:
  • What’s perhaps most disconcerting about unrestrained enthusiasm for stem cell research are the undesirable doors it may open. Stem cells are a key component in developing technologies of human genetic engineering and enhancement. While stem cell research should be supported, we must acknowledge that it is laying the technological and social foundation for our worst nightmares of a society of “genetically enhanced” and “naturals.” In our market-based society, it is easy to see how a new technologically based eugenics could emerge.

    I fail to see what's wrong with with producing "genetically enhanced" individuals -- what exactly does Mr. Reynolds have against producing smarter, stronger and healthier individuals? Most of the false arguments in Reynolds's article are addressed in another essay at TomPaine.com by Susan Frank. She concludes appropriately, though naively:
    The critics of life-saving stem cell research technologies use false claims, an anti-technology bias and an alarmist view of sensibly and ethically practiced medical research. Instead, progressives and conservatives should join together and affirm that embryonic stem cell research holds great promise for those suffering from diseases; thank responsible and ethical scientists for their tireless efforts; and hope that, someday soon, cures will be discovered.

    I think Ms. Frank is naive because both conservatives and progressives have inherent ideological anti-science and anti-technology biases that cannot be easily overcome. Conservatives, to the extent that they are religious, will continue to appease religious opposition to scientific advance. Progressives, having some decades ago left their nominal pro-science attitude behind, are now opposed to any technological advance that will, in their mind, yield profits to corporations or affect the environment in any way at all.
  • Cox and Forkum's take on the Israeli Disengagement.



    I couldn't express it better myself.
  • Finally, the Ayn Rand Institute has announced the title of Yaron Brook's September 12 lecture that I mentioned here. It is entitled "Neo-Conservatives Vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy Since 9/11." I have heard a version of this talk on C-Span Radio this past weekend and he makes a good critique of the Neo-Conservative approach to foreign policy. I remember when I first got disillusioned with the Neo-Cons. I was listening to the Dennis Prager show. Prager had as his guest Bruce Herschensohn. This was after 9/11 but before the recent Iraq war. Herschensohn was discussing his foreign policy views and in addition to supporting the coming war on Iraq was, to my great surprise, going on about how the United States had a mission to actively liberate countries around the world. Prager agreed. I don't. The United States foreign policy should be focused on protecting its national interest as derived from its domestic policy, which ought to be laissez faire capitalism. We may support allies but our foreign policy ought not to be altruistic. For details see Peter Schwartz's recent monograph.

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