Monthly Archives: May 2005

Stem Cells & Blastocysts

An issue that I thought was settled in my mind, yet is continuously unsettled and resettled.

Andrew Sullivan has done the most to make me doubt my position (of support for loosening restrictions). Yesterday:

We’re all humans; whatever we believe about our origins or destiny, we can all agree that each of us deserves to be treated as ends in ourselves, not material for others’ benefit. If we cede that principle, then we will slide (and have already slid) toward hideous forms of eugenics. Now I know many people disagree. But the pragmatic arguments they deploy – these embryos will be destroyed or kept in limbo anyway, they’re teensy-weensy – don’t circumvent the deeper moral issue. The only logical justification is an entirely utilitarian one, in which the use of “lesser” humans for the benefit of more developed ones is justified.

Today, Andrew linked to a very convincing argument for loosening restrictions from Slate’s Fray:

First, ‘conception’, ‘life’ and ‘living distinct beings’ are not the same thing as ‘fertilization’, no matter how much it serves one’s purposes to make it so. Fertilization and the creation of blastocysts is an unremarkable event that takes place daily. If that embryo doesn’t implant, there is no conception, no life, no pregnancy. Every day millions of women have ’embryos’ floating around in their uteri, flush them during menses and nobody bats an eye. These embryos that have not implanted and sunk a vein and begun the process of advancement are not, even by the most conservative of standards, life.

(Part of which, incidentally, serves as a rebuttal to a chiding email Andrew received about Plan B.)

Meanwhile at the Huffington Post, Eugene Volokh furthers the cause of intellectual honesty, discussing the way the stem cell issue is sometimes argued.

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Joe Pernice’s Crib

Amusing video of Joe Pernice showing us around his new house.

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A Pie Graph of Religions

A graph of major religions by size.

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Fine, We’ll Do It in My Spaceship Tower

Romance novels, remixed.

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Changing the Rules

Professor Bainbridge links to this in-depth article about how the fight over judicial nominees got to where it is. Here’s a bit of history I wasn’t aware of:

As a courtesy, the Judiciary Committee has long given additional weight in the approval process to the votes of the nominees’ home-state senators (even if they aren’t on the committee), recorded on slips of blue paper. In 1995, Hatch began enforcing a rule that no nomination would be voted on without two positive blue slips. He used the rule to slow down some Clinton appointments, including a three-year delay for Helene White’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit. Now, with the Democrats in a position to use the blue slips for delay, Hatch announced that the committee would begin to act with only one blue slip in favor of a nominee.

Next, Hatch broke with the tradition of considering only one controversial nominee at a time by holding hearings for three nominees to appeals courts, John Roberts for the D.C. Circuit and Deborah Cook and Jeffrey Sutton for the Sixth Circuit. To slow down Cook and Roberts, the Democrats tried to invoke Rule IV of the Senate’s procedures, which permits the minority party to filibuster during a committee hearing. But Senator Hatch declared this action invalid and pressed on.

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The Edgy Quest for Danger

Edward Jay Epstein continues his fascinating series of articles about Hollywood finance with the skinny on movie insurance.

The hype of this sequel was that Jolie did “most of her own stunts” out of her own “edgy quest for danger.” In reality, the insurer, AIG, was so strict that it did not even allow director Jan de Bont to be at the Luna Temple set during shooting because he had a prior leg injury. … The insurer took even more precautions with Jolie, the only cast member insured by AIG as an essential element, since even a broken toe could cost the insurer a cool $134 million. Her “edgy quest for danger” notwithstanding, no fewer than three stunt doubles substituted for Jolie, bringing the stunt-person budget to a near-record $1,894,662.

I recommend reading all of the “Hollywood Economist” articles, which are linked at the bottom of the page.

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And on that Note

“The off-and-on principle of up-or-down votes” by the wise William Saletan.

Republicans have been trying to prevent a bill on stem cell research from coming to a vote because they will lose.

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In Fairness

Some on the Left are also unhappy with the deal. My quick impression right now is that there are more angry conservatives than liberals. The Moose is happy to see that the extremes on both sides are unhappy.

UPDATE: Swing State Project is keeping tabs on the reaction from leftish blogs. Instapundit has a few rightish blog reactions.

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Dobson Whines

We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.
—James Dobson

Cooler heads prevail for the greater good of the country, and Dobson hates it.

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Shake It Up

Jowlers are pictures taken when the subject is shaking his or her head. It makes your face look all messed up.

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