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Month: December 2002

On Cloning

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

Matt Drudge had a recent story referring to the recent claims of a successful human clone being born under the tagline “DID THIS WOMAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF MANKIND FOREVER?
Now, I usually like Drudge, but he seems to have joined the general hysteria surrounding human cloning.

I am skeptical that a successful human clone is scientifically possible in the near future, but even if this feat can be accomplished, I see nothing wrong or immoral about the practice. First, the classic argument against cloning, that interfering with reproduction “goes against God’s will” is nonsense. If we take this argument to its natural conclusion, then any human manipulation of genes is immoral. But we are in effect participating in genetic manipulation when we choose one mate over another, or breed a certain variety of a crop over another, or choose to have kids or not. Simply by favoring blondes over brunettes, or mates of a certain race, we are in fact engaging in genetic manipulation – and if man was made in God’s image, than that image is certainly a moving target. Excluding human manipulation of us and our environment leaves us with little choice, but to go back to the caves or trees we originated from – because it is in fact human nature to rule nature, rather than be ruled by it.

Cloning, like any technology gives man power — to improve his life, or to destroy it. In the long run, it is only the productive and life-enhancing applications of technology that make life and further development possible, which is why technology and industry is fundamentally beneficial to human life. The “natural order” for man is as a rational being who applies his creative power to benefit his life by conquering nature – including that of his own body. Because it excludes human achievements from “nature,” the entire notion of going “back to nature” implies a return to our animal nature — a miserable, short, and brutish life scrounging scrubs while trying to eke out a pathetic survival.

Another argument against cloning is that it will lead to birth defects and shortened lifespans. Perhaps so, but so will so does smoking, consuming alcohol and bad diets while pregnant – and mothers are not legally liable for in those cases. Perhaps, if cloning was inherently detrimental to a fetus – for example as random radiation exposure might be, there might be a case for banning it, but in fact, it promises incredible advances in preventing genetic disease and perhaps even improving on the fragile condition from which we have involved. Sure, some people might mess up their kid’s genes, but then stupid people have kids all the time – more than their fair share even, and no one tries to pass a law against that.

What I've been up to during the break…

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

That’s me in front, blissfully unaware of the guy behind me, about to blow me away. (Don’t worry, I still won the game.)

Btw, the game is Unreal Tournament 2003, which I have just bought, and highly recommend to anyone who likes FPS gaming.

More on NK Nukes

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

Apparently, North Korea is going full stream with nuke production — they have removed UN seals and inspection devices, and openly admitted to nuclear weapons production. Apparently, they’re not afraid to take the world with them if they ever go down:

The communist party’s newspaper Workers’ Daily declared that “the army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to mercilessly strike the bulwark of US imperialist aggressors” – implying that they could hit targets in the US.

“There can be no earth without Korea,” it said. “The army and people of the DPRK will destroy the earth if the enemies dare make a nuclear strike at it. This is their do-or-die spirit.”

Do what exactly? Achieve a communist utopia? If the mass starvation of their people is that utopia, then “kill everyone or die trying” is a better description of their “spirit.”

New Web App

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

I spent a whole day making a new favorites page. It may look deceptively simple to the untrained eye, but it took me a whole day to get the XML databinding and sorting to work. Also, I think my collection of links is pretty cool. Check out out!


by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

I was at Tim’s graduation last night, and happened to be looking through the PhD theses in the brosure, and some of the sociology and english titles reminded me of this quote

You know, if every “Woman’s Studies” department was closed, and the student loans were used to create businesses that hired women instead of studied them like tragic butterflies impaled on the patriarchal pin, we might be better off. Granted, we’d be without PhDs theses like “Rape Symbolism and Beatrix Potter: A Rake’s Progress,” but the culture would survive; the only noticeable effect at all would be a 17% decrease in Frieda Kahlo poster sales, and a 50% decrease in 33-year old college students.


by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

Interesting article on Marxism at the Economist.

Here is the conclusion:

Anti-globalism has been aptly described as a secular religion. So is Marxism: a creed complete with prophet, sacred texts and the promise of a heaven shrouded in mystery. Marx was not a scientist, as he claimed. He founded a faith. The economic and political systems he inspired are dead or dying. But his religion is a broad church, and lives on.

A pacifist speaks his mind.

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

On October 8, Air Force Academy cadet Robert Kurpiel sent an e-mail to several college professors seeking support for the academy’s annual assembly, which provides a forum for the exchange of political views. His polite request sought advice on publicity for the event and such. One who responded was Professor Peter Kirstein of St. Xavier University in Chicago. Here is his October 31 reply in full and verbatim:

You are a disgrace to this country and I am furious you would even think I would support you and your aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage. Help you recruit. Who, top guns to reign [sic] death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world? Are you serious sir? Resign your commission and serve your country with honour.

No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation. You are worse than the snipers. You are imperialists who are turning the whole damn world against us. September 11 can be blamed in part for what you and your cohorts have done to Palestinians, the VC, the Serbs, a retreating army at Basra.

You are unworthy of my support.

After the national media covered this story, and Dr Kirstein was temporarily removed from his position for his remarks, he gave the following (non)apology:

I have expressed to Cadet Kurpiel my regrets over what I communicated to him in my e-mail. I did not mean to impugn his character. I am sure he is of the highest character. I should have written him in a more thoughtful and contemplative manner. As one who believes in non-violence and the avoidance of conflict, I could have been more circumspect and creative in my communication with him..”

I don’t think I need to add much commentary here, except I can say from some of my experience at Texas A&M that Dr Kirstein is no exception and this this is the ugly underbelly of today’s academia out in the open.

Trent Lott

by David Veksler David Veksler No Comments

Here is a quote from MSNBC news:

<font face="Times" Lott appeared on Black Entertainment Television on Monday night to call his gaffe "an opportunity for redemption."
He added, “I am going to have to make changes, make amends and do something about it.” Specifically, he pledged his support for affirmative action programs and for creation of a “task force on reconciliation.”
“There’s an opportunity here,” Lott said. “This is a wake-up call.”
When pressed by moderator Ed Gordon, Lott spoke candidly about his Thurmond comment. “It was insensitive, at the very least,” he said. He also said if he had to vote today he would vote for the federal holiday in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he voted against in 1983.”

Note a few things:
Lott doesn’t ever acknowledge that his comment was in fact racist — so what is he apologizing for exactly? He doesn’t say. Instead of admitting his own guilt, he wants a “task force” — as if his racist remarks should be dealt as a social problem, not a racist attitude on his part. (If he’s not racist, he hasn’t explained what he “really” meant by his remarks.)
As a response to his own racism, he decides to force it on others – by affirmative action. So what “convinced” him to support affirmative action and a national holiday for MLK? No answer. So does it then make any logical sense to change one’s political views in response to your actual political views being revealed? Of course not. It only makes sense to a politician who tells the public whatever he believes they want to hear, without bothering to define any principles or ideals to base his position on.