The key to our humanity isn’t genetic, it’s microbial
What if the key to perfecting the human species were actually … yogurt?
What if the key to perfecting the human species were actually … yogurt?
I watch this and realize that I don’t know a thing about autism…
For a while, I’d been wanting to watch the documentary “Big Fertility“, by the Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC), which was released on 17 September 2018. I was mainly curious.
I finally got around to it today. I watched the puzzling trailer this morning – It’s all about the money – and it intrigued me so much that I rented the video from Vimeo.
This documentary features Kelly Martinez, her husband and the director of the CBC as well as Kelly’s doctor during her last surrogacy.
Kelly has earlier addressed the United Nations, as is mentioned in the documentary. This took place on 15 March 2017.
She also went to Spain. I found an article in Spanish newspaper El Pais of 24 February 2017 that mentions her and discusses the problem of gestational surrogacy. It’s not allowed in Spain, but that does not stop people who have lots of money.
I believe that truly altruistic cases or surrogacy will not be stopped by bans but it would curb the predominantly negative instances and effects of gestational surrogacy. In my own family, there is a case of one family giving one or their babies to another couple that could not conceive. It concerned two siblings and their spouses and happened many decades ago.
She raps a poem she wrote to an Iranian-American student repeatedly tasered by police at a UCLA library when he did not want to show his ID when challenged, repeatedly tasered and then told to stand up again. (It was recorded on video.)
And she’s surprisingly good. It’s powerful.
This is 11 years old yet highly current.
This concerns my home town of St. Petersburg in the US. I’d just left…
Tyron Lewis was an unarmed teenager. Of course he was black. Hence automatically considered dangerous. And shot. Killed.
I watched the news about it on TV from Amsterdam but for most people around me, it was just another Rodney King story that happened on the other side of the world. It did not concern them.
Particularly for young people (?), the internet – still in its infancy back then, with most people not even using e-mail – enabling like-minded strangers from all over the world to connect has changed this.
(Or has it?)
I knew from my own experiences in St. Petersburg that there were officers in St. Pete who were scared. For their own lives. Expecting the worst. (I once had to ask for police assistance when I came home and found my front door locked from the inside. Seemed a bit peculiar, best to take no risks and let the professionals deal with it. To my astonishment, the officers were much more scared and nervous than I was.)
This video has great sound. One of the reasons why I am posting it.
Severely physically challenged patients working in a Japanese coffee shop. This is only a start, but it is a good one.
While the Home Office’s illegal practice to force medical staff to report migrants to them as if they were hounds pointing out foxes in the field has recently been terminated, if I recall correctly, the hostility policy that Theresa May started against foreigners (though it was touted as a measure to flush out illegal immigrants) continues.
The irony of it all is that for most legal immigrants in Britain, there is no official paperwork that states that they’re here legally. Leave to remain should be automatic for those who have it automatically, on the basis of the law. On paper, I have already had the same rights as British people for about nine years, but in practice, that is not quite the case.
Every time I leave the UK, I don’t know whether I will be let back into the country again (also because the UK government has been changing its definition of who is allowed to live here and who is not so many times). Dutch people tell me that of course I will be allowed back into the UK, as I am an EU citizen, but they are not familiar with what happens in practice. Last time I returned, the customs officer held back my passport teasingly for a few seconds when he handed it to me, before he let go of it. To remind me that I am nothing but a rotted banana peel in the eyes of people like Theresa May? Because he was bored? Or because I am a female?
Anyway, last year MPs reported foreigners to the Home Office 68 times and “since 2012, MPs have contacted Immigration Enforcement to raise concerns about constituents’ immigration status 723 times”.
I’d like to see a list with the names of those MPs. One of them is Conservative MP Christopher Chope.
Thankfully, 107 MPs have signed up to the pledge that they will not inform the Home Office on their constituents within this hostile climate context. These MPs include for example Diane Abbott, Jon Ashworth and Richard Burgon, yet apparently only one Conservative MP, namely Heidi Allen.
Even at some universities, I read on Twitter earlier this year, the situation has turned into a situation eerily reminiscent of what happened 100 years ago, when Jews in Germany were challenged on every occasion and eventually were forced to wear a band on their arm, with professors who’ve been working in the UK for a long time suddenly being challenged on their eligibility to for example serve on a PhD student’s graduation committee and being asked to show their passports.
Theresa May’s hostility policy remains a highly worrisome development.
A large part of my book “We need to talk about this” was an effort in logical reasoning to find a practically applicable guideline, something that would hold up within a legal framework and provide clarity, a way forward instead of remaining gridlocked.
One or two people have said that they do not agree with my views. As none of them were specific, I can only guess what they meant. Were they in favour of encouraging discrimination of those who aren’t mainstream? Were they in favour of locking up people in institutions because they are autistic and putting people in chains attached to walls because of “mental” illness? Surely not.
I suspect that what they want is to see new technologies being used to rid the world of diseases and conditions closest to their heart. I do not believe that that would be just. Cancer runs rampant in my family, for example, but focusing all attention on the prevention of the development of cancer is wrong when cancer is mostly developed later in life and can be tied to the way we live. (By contrast, sickle cell anaemia does not occur in my family and I am not familiar with what it entails whereas I have seen the pain and suffering related to advanced cancer from up close.)
I have no personal ties to childhood cancer, but it seems to me that preventing the development of childhood cancers should take priority over preventing the development of cancers that occur later in life. (But note that I am not saying at all that no attention should ever go to the prevention of cancers that occur later in life!)
In my book, I came up with a guideline according to which more attention should first go to the prevention (or treatment) of conditions that lead to lives considered not worth living. Because it is just and fair, also in view of the fact that it is a generally accepted view that allowing people to have been born in itself does not constitute harm.
Once we have those figured out, we could move on to progressively less serious illnesses and conditions if people with those conditions perceive them as so problematic that they would like to see them prevented. Progressive multiple sclerosis is an example that comes to mind.
This is the opposite of the approach currently generally taken in medicine, in which those with the worst lives and most serious conditions get the lowest priorities. That is like ignoring the ship that is still miles away from the shore (sinking or not) but focusing all your attention on the ships that are closer and sure to make it to the harbour or that are already in the harbour.
Both approaches contain their own logic. Both approaches make sense. I don’t think that one is wrong and the other is right.
But if I put it in terms of another metaphor, then I have no choice but to say that it is wrong to provide water and nutrition only to roses and withhold them from geraniums.
Then the question becomes: Who am I to say that geraniums or sunflowers aren’t worthy of life or that the people on the ship farthest away from the shore aren’t worth saving? In a world full of roses and only roses, roses will soon become boring and plain.
I believe that it is a mistake to put the onus exclusively on medicine when so much more can also still be done by society to make people’s lives better and enable everyone to flourish, roses, begonias, sunflowers, tulips, orchids, daffodils and geraniums alike.
That is what the United Nations have called the British government’s treatment of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.
I discussed that in my book too (and I believe that it is linked to a British-designed approach to life called utilitarianism):
What’s being said in the BBC article about the, well, delusional focus of the ministers is excellently depicted by this photo I took on 29 October. The text in this government poster at a local bus stop contains not a promise but a threat, as wages in Britain aren’t particularly high (to put in an understatement). Universal credit is the new benefits system, by the way.
I found the tone of this poster mean-spirited. That’s why I took the photo.
Something similar’s happened before, too:
Do you agree with this? Don’t other species also have to respond to the circumstances around them, including being chased by humans, having been born in a zoo or as part of the pet trade or to droughts and food shortages, as well as the fact that humans take up more and more of their natural habitat and force them to live in our built environment?
“We all have circumstances we’re born into, and to be human means having to respond to that.” Philosopher Robert Rowland Smith on ‘what it means to be human’: https://t.co/yfXcVeHh7T #TalksAtGS #GSEurope pic.twitter.com/I9SPxofe9w
— Goldman Sachs (@GoldmanSachs) August 17, 2018
The above is the title of the 2018 Petrie-Flom Center Annual Conference, which took place in June. I had registered for the event because the topic interests me greatly and I have so much to learn in this area. Unfortunately, I turned out to be away and unable to attend after all.
I am delighted that the Petrie-Flom Center not only decided to make some of the lecture materials available beforehand, but recorded the lectures and has made the videos shareable.
Prominent point of discussion at he conference was the question whether a disability is merely a difference, or a bad difference. Putting the question like this is an oversimplification but it is a good starting point. I will discuss this matter and these lectures in greater detail in coming posts.
For now, here are the opening remarks, and first talks.
Last evening, I saw a video and photos that I found shocking. It concerns severe animal cruelty that occurs near Sulphur in Oklahoma. The farm is part of Mahard Egg Farms who appear to be headquartered in Texas. I searched LinkedIn and found nine accounts associated with the company, including that of its CFO, Kaitlin Mahard.
I believe that severe animal cruelty can be considered “violent crimes” which would mean that LinkedIn should remove the accounts associated with Mahard Egg Farms. The LinkedIn Professional Community Policies state that “those who engage in violent crimes are not welcome and not permitted on the Services”.
In 2011, Mahard Egg Farm, Inc., indeed a Texas corporation, was told to pay a $1.9 million penalty to settle claims that the company violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its egg production facilities in Texas and Oklahoma, according to the EPA:
The latter apparently resulted in this:
That document includes the following:
C. MORTALITY MANAGEMENT
18. Defendant shall comply with the Mortality Management Requirements in Appendix D at the Vernon-Chillicothe Facility, the Springhill Facility, the Prosper Facility, the Boogie Hill Facility, the Nebo Ranch, and the Ravia Facility, unless such facility is not growing poultry.
Appendix D stated:
No later than the Effective Date of this Decree, Mahard shall cease any transfer of
carcasses between Facilities unless a composting plan is in place that is consistent with 30 T.A.C. 332, Subchapter B, and has been approved by EPA and TCEQ.
Mahard shall ensure that all carcass disposal at the Vernon-Chillicothe, Prosper, and
Springhill Facilities is conducted in accordance with TCEQ Regulatory Guidance, RG-326, Handling and Disposal of Carcasses from Poultry Operations (August 2009) and in accordance with 30 T.A.C. § 335.25. Mahard shall collect all carcasses within 24 hours of death and properly disposed of them within three (3) Days of death. Animals must not be disposed of in any liquid manure or process wastewater system. Disposal of diseased animals shall be conducted in accordance with Tex. Agric. Code § 161.004.
Mahard shall comply with the terms and conditions in Mahard’s 4/29/09 Carcass Disposal Plan, as amended and supplemented by the letter from ODAFF, dated May 7, 2009, to Mahard (both attached here as the Appendix D Supplement).
The Kroger chain has meanwhile dropped Mahard’s eggs and I’ve reached out on LinkedIn to it spokeswoman Kristal Howard to thank Kroger and ask her to ensure that Kroger will never be associated with such severe animal cruelty again.
Kroger’s 2018 Sustainability Report includes an animal welfare policy, which states:
“Kroger has a long-standing commitment to responsible business practices, including the humane treatment of animals,” Kroger says in its policy. “We require our suppliers to adopt industry-accepted animal welfare standards that we endorse, and we monitor our suppliers for compliance with these standards. We align with the Food Marketing Institute’s industry-adopted and industry-aligned animal welfare standards for the following animal proteins: beef, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs. For nearly a decade, Kroger has convened our own independent panel of animal science experts to make recommendations on how we can work with the industry to improve animal welfare.”
I’ve also contacted the EPA.
I quickly shot this with my mobile so the quality is not that great and you get to see my saggy wrinkly skin up close. Hey, I am no longer 20 or 30 and that’s perfectly fine!
Here is the article in the Atlantic that I mention in the video:
That is one of the questions I’ve been wondering about, as you’ll know if you read my latest book.
I just watched Brené Brown’s TED Talk about vulnerability again. I first saw it a few years ago. It turns out that her research appears to indicate that yes, the unbridled creation of designer babies would destroy our capacity for connection.
This green wall in London (Bressenden Place, in Westminster) contains red, (by the looks of it, two kinds of) white and lilac flowers. The lilac flowers look like they might be lavender.
The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.
– Lorraine Hansberry
Boiling water hurts them too.
This video will change everything. For anyone who thinks that crawfish and other sea life don’t suffer, watch this crawfish sever their own claw to escape a boiling pot. So powerful. Please RT. 💔 pic.twitter.com/tNEYlvlSv2
— John Oberg (@JohnOberg) June 8, 2018
The annual Uehiro lectures will take place in Oxford next week. This year, they are by Richard Holton, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Their topic interests me because I feel strongly that we need to start looking differently at various forms of illnesses. Continue reading
Humans occur along vast ranges of characteristics and one of those ranges is the scale that has empaths and extreme altruists on one end and probably psychopaths on the other. They all have their pluses and minuses. Nothing is bad or good. Everything is both. There is good in bad and bad in good. Good and bad can’t even exist independently. They are expressed relative to each other, after all.
Do you know where on this spectrum you are? Continue reading
In my book “We need to talk about this“, I mention sadistic stalking (description below). That is, I point out how difficult it is to tell that the target of such activities is not imagining things, is not mentally ill.
I give the example of the woman who was stalked for a long time and eventually found the excavated remains of her deceased husband dumped on her doorstep. She had a heart attack. In my book, I take you through a few scenarios that put you in such a woman’s shoes to show you various sides of what are in fact “mental health” prejudices. Continue reading
See also this post, about tasering of patients.
And this gives even more food for thought:
There is no such thing as a dumb animal. Okay, with the possible exception of that one bee who currently keeps flying into my kitchen, again and again and again. But he always finds his way out again. Hm. Then maybe even this bee isn’t really that dumb… I haven’t figured out yet what smell on my windowsill could be attracting him. Or her.
Well, of course, after I thought I had weeded out all the typos, added a reference that I was sure I had already added, and tweaked the new cover for the print version sufficiently, I still found a missing space, and one or two missing words in the proof. That’s how it goes! Continue reading
Two pigs were rescued, one had piglets and was well and the other one was very thin. Rescuers were puzzled. Turned out that the latter had been giving most of the food he had to the other pig. To help the other pig survive.
We need to reconsider our views regarding other species, urgently.
Personally, I have seen small parrots stand up for cats.
How on earth did we “developed” humans manage to think for so long that other species have no cognitive abilities? No capacity for emotions? Mind-boggling. The more developed we become, the less wisdom we humans seem to have?
Traditional scientists have to stop being so damn pig-headed about this. To see the obvious does not make you stupid, silly or dimwitted.
Welcome to this website and blog. I am the author of “We need to talk about this“.
In this book, I discuss matters of life and death, such as abortion, designer babies and euthanasia, within the context of the new eugenics.
(Incidentally, if you have the 1st edition – with the bright-blue baby on the cover – or a flawed early author’s copy of the current edition, with for example errors in the Table of Contents, typos, or a different photo on the back than the one on the left, contact me. I can send you an up-to-date epub or mobi file.)
Want to know how? Watch this TED Talk.