Two interesting news stories..
In the first, in Seattle there's a family that's unfortunate enough to have had a kid who, due to brain mishap, has failed to mentally develop past what's called an age of three months. They're not sure she can recognise them, and she can't move significantly. Causing controversy, the family has had a number of surgeries performed on her to keep her body in a state convenient for them, including something to block breast growth, prevent further growth (so they can carry her around better), remove her uterus, etc. This has led to quite a debate among the medical community (and general populance), with some describing the modifications as being frankensteinesque and some other saying she lacks the mental presence to feel demeaned by such things. I suppose I share the queasiness with the modifications, as the current mods don't seem different in principle from removing her limbs and installing a handle, although I also sympathise with the notion that she simply isn't enough mentally there for there to be a concern in her emotional/mental well-being. What we have here might be someone who's mentally less present than most of the pets some people surround themselves with, and the parents are treating her as such. Is that a problem? I would probably object if people did major surgeries beyond neutering their pet for the sake of convenience (I don't consider de-clawing major enough to count, although I can see reasonable difference on this matter) or cuteness (the breast reduction was partly justified by the parents as de-sexualising her). I don't think it's inconsistent to say that I find it grotesque but don't think it demeans any particular being that's actually a person (in potentia or actual). In any case, I expect a lot of people will have strong opinions on this matter, probably stronger than mine on either of the two most-obvious sides.
Next, in England, a fundie Muslim was sentenced to jail time for calling for the death of Americans and Danes in a protest. I have little sympathy for the guy - incitement to violence over cartoon disrespect is unacceptable, and is not something that western societies should permit. I can understand race riots over intolerable injustice (I can understand the anger radical abolitionists had during slavery in the United States, and may have condoned appropriately targeted actions they did at that time), but whenever any society or group in society cannot tolerate pure-word insults that are not from central societal institutions, they're a rot and need to either be rapidly repaired or removed from the pot.
- Stallman and SUN
- The U.S. House aims to adopt anti-pork legislation rules, as part of a new Democratic "majority" set of reforms. Will it work? It would be positive if it would.
- Yet another parody Wiki, to join Uncyclopedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and countless others: Wikiality, Colbert-themed. It's kind of amusing, and at least a bit less juvenile than Uncyclopedia. I predict a world where every group in the world ends up with their own Wiki, and the internet will be inverted, in a sense. There are challenges in store with if/how to make this all managable - what works if people have 2-3 wikis they frequent and 5 big-name wikis on the web won't scale so well if they frequent 10 out of 500. We need ways for different Wikis to talk to each other and share information as useful, and ways for users to interact in more flexible ways with them. Is RSS/Atom the answer for some of this? Do we need a standardised .WIK format for downloadable articles?
- A friend passed a link to this article on different interpretations/implementations/alternat
ives to standard monogamy my way. I find it very interesting, but some (old-fashioned?) part of me makes me very very uncomfortable even thinking about this. This is an area where I'm probably oversensitive because of my fear of abandonment and some family issues (in that I get the willies thinking about it in the abstract rather than simply saying "no" if such options were ever to come up). For a long time I've known at least a few people involved in things of this sort. I'm not prone to judge it, I just wish it wasn't something that breaks my brain when I think about it too deeply.
- Schwartzenegger gets a second term as governor of California, and decides to stop thinking of himself as Democrat or Republican, but rather a Centrist. Whether this means he'll break with the Republican party or not is an interesting question - he's certainly considerably more liberal than most Republicans in office nowadays.
- Goverment forces in Somalia, as part of the continual three way power struggle the country faces, recently retook the capital and other large parts of the country. Whether they can hold out against warlords and the Union of Islamic Courts remains to be seen.
- Lawrence Lessig talks about a recent project of his to utilise a little-known feature of U.S. copyright law providing an un-sign-away-able right of creators to terminate transfers/assignment of copyright to other parties. This does interesting things to the destroy-from-within means that some instances of GPL may be based on, although it also has some more benign possible effects. I'm not sure what to think about it, but then, it is part of IP legislation which as a whole I dislike.
- Most celebries would do well to STFU when talking about scientific topics.
- Sometimes Vigilante justice is beautiful.
And that's the news and what I think of it.