Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 9th, 2008

Process theology, pantheism, and so on

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I blogged earlier about process theology, which (as the Wikipedia article at the link points out) is based on the process metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead. Although most process theologians are Christian, nothing in process theology itself is particularly Christian—indeed, there are Jewish process theologians.

A possibly related concept is Ed Fredkin’s notion of the universe as a digital computer, working out some program and created for purpose—the question being addressed being one most quickly answered by simply letting the computer run the program to completion. See this summary. Fredkin has/had a site, which seems to be inactive. The Wikipedia article “digital philosophy” does provide some information.

The April 1988 issue of the Atlantic Monthly has an article by Robert Wright, “Did the Universe Just Happen?”, on Fredkin’s idea. The article is not on-line, but I have a copy. Let me know if you’re interested (or just check at the library, which will surely have that issue).

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Daily life

Elizabeth Edwards speaks out

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You can read her statement here.

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 7:58 am

Posted in Daily life

Trusting big business: Big Pharma edition

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Interesting report by Julie Appleby in USA Today:

Drug companies are quietly pushing through price hikes of 100% — or even more than 1,000% — for a very small but growing number of prescription drugs, helping to drive up costs for insurers, patients and government programs.

The number of brand-name drugs with increases of 100% or more could double this year from four years ago, researchers from the University of Minnesota say. Many of the drugs are older products that treat fairly rare, but often serious or even life-threatening, conditions.

Among the examples: Questcor Pharmaceuticals last August raised the wholesale price on Acthar, which treats spasms in babies, from about $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. Ovation raised the cost of Cosmegen, which treats a type of tumor, from $16.79 to $593.75 in January 2006.

The average wholesale price of 26 brand-name drugs jumped 100% or more in a single cost adjustment last year, up from 15 in 2004, the university study found. In the first half of this year, 17 drugs made the list.

“This does drive up the price of health care,” says Alan Goldbloom, president of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “Hospitals are either eating the cost or passing it along to insurers, so you and I are paying it in increased premiums.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 7:51 am

No consequences for the White House?

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John Dean explains. He begins:

When the random selection system used by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sent the case of Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives v. Harriet Miers, et al to the courtroom of Judge John D. Bates, the White House was no doubt thrilled. Earlier, Judge Bates had sided with Vice President Cheney’s refusal to produce documents requested by the Comptroller General.

However, on July 31, when Judge Bates handed down his decision, he ruled in favor of the Judiciary Committee, not the White House, and the thrill was surely gone. The White House had pushed the law beyond its boundaries, and this time, the Judge pulled them up short.

The Fight over Subpoenas to the White House Regarding the U.S. Attorney Firings

After months of the White House’s stonewalling requests for information about the firing of nine United States Attorneys in late 2006, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to testify, and subpoenaed President Bush’s Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten to testify and produce documents. Relying on instructions from President Bush, neither appeared and no documents were produced.

Accordingly, the Judiciary Committee and then the full House held both Miers and Bolten in contempt. The matter was referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for presentation to a criminal grand jury pursuant to the U.S. Code. Attorney General Mukasey, however, instructed the U.S. Attorney to not proceed to a grand jury because Miers and Bolten were not acting in a criminal manner by following the president’s instructions.

This left the Judiciary Committee – and the House of Representatives – with two options: They could file a civil lawsuit to enforce their subpoena, or the House could exercise its inherent power to deal with contempt by holding its own trial. With the backing of the House (by a vote 223-32 on February 14, 2008), the Judiciary Committee chose the first option, and filed a civil lawsuit. (Wisely, because Judge Bates did not believe the House had inherent authority against presidential aides acting pursuant to his instructions.)

The White House responded on behalf of Miers and Bolten by seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. It claimed that Miers and Bolten, as presidential aides, had absolute immunity from being compelled to testify before Congress or produce the requested documents.

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Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 7:34 am

Drugs and sports

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I’m not much of a sports fan, and I’m not following the Olympics, but I was intrigued about the pervasiveness of drug use to augment performance. Apparently, it’s universal. That makes sports even less interesting (if possible). Arthur Allen has a report in the Washington Independent. It begins:

When Mike, Chris and Mark Bell, were striving to become champion iron pumpers in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the brothers never dreamed that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan and their other idols were juiced. Steroids were for commies –like Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. Rocky himself was clean and sober. He chopped wood to get buff.

But, as they got older, the Bells learned the dirty little secret: their heroes were on ‘roids. The Bells would have to take them too, if they wanted to compete. Years later, Mark—who went by “Mad Dog” when he wrestled for World Wresting Entertainment, the WWE, and “Smelly” Mike – who can bench press 700 pounds– are still using the stuff.

Chris, the middle brother, tried steroids for a few months, stopped and decided to make a movie about them instead. His documentary film, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of Being American,” is a hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking look at the hypocritical culture of competition.

“I was brought up to believe that cheaters never prosper,” he narrates, over footage of President George W. Bush speaking against steroid use — though his Texas Rangers used them. “But in America, they always prosper.”

With the Olympics beginning Friday and millions of kids primed to watch their U.S. heroes compete with the world, Bell sadly reflected on what he learned about the clandestine doping that goes on beyond the noble striving for national glory. Bell, 35, spent three years working on the film, which incorporates dozens of interviews and other footage.

“I used to think the Olympics had the best drug testing, but it’s a big façade,” he said in a phone interview. The Balco scandal — in which a San Francisco steroid producer provided hundreds of baseball players with hard-to-trace steroid shots — revealed some of the tricks that trainers use to evade testing. Olympic committees have done little to keep pace with the cheaters, Bell said. “You can skirt the rules on hormones. There’s no test for human-growth hormone. There’s an improved test for Epo [which increases oxygen in the blood], but it won’t be ready for the Olympics.”

“I don’t want to be one of those conspiracy-theory guys, but there are a lot of people juicing,” he said. “You’re never going to have a 100-percent clean Olympics. It’s sad. Kids look up to these people.”

News accounts indicate a certain vigilance against doping Olympic athletes. But the history of such scandals, Bell suggests, is that only the unlucky get caught. During the 1988 games, Jamaican sprinter Ben Johnson lost his gold medal in the 100 meters for steroid use. Carl Lewis, to whom the gold was awarded, had also tested for banned substances in his blood during training. Rather than disqualify him, according to Bell’s well-documented account, the U.S. Olympic Committee changed the rules.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 7:30 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Tagged with ,

Marlborough morning

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D.R. Harris always delivers a superb lather. So this morning I took the Marlborough shave stick, rubbed it over my wet beard, and with the Rooney Style 2 got the usual fine and satisfying lather. The Futur was at hand, and the Treet Classic blade delivered yet another great shave: effortless, smooth, and comfortable. Three passes, a hot rinse, a cold rinse, and a good splash of the Marlborough aftershave. And then a big cup of coffee…

Another misty, foggy morning here in Monterey. Cold enough to require more than a blanket in bed, but not so cold as to have to turn on the furnace.

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2008 at 7:24 am

Posted in Shaving

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