03 November, 2004


The oil price absolutely dove in the past few days, going well below $50, simply on speculation that Kerry might win. The logic being, I suppose, that a Kerry win implied stability in the Middle East and Iraq, and thus a more secure oil supply. The Bush win immediately pushed it back up to $51, and no doubt it will go up higher. It's ironic, since Bush is ostensibly fighting a "war for oil", and he and his gang are known as "oil men". Unfortunate that his best intentions are waylaid by the fact that he's a total cockhead.

02 November, 2004

It begins

Terrible ideas are usually introduced as benevolent improvements that will aid us all. Thus with the recent proposal for genetic screening of embryos for a defective bowel cancer gene. Innocuous enough, and who can argue with it? Surely you aren't advocating allowing children to develop bowel cancer when we can prevent it?

I don't suppose these developments can actually be stopped. As the ability to manipulate our genetic material grows steadily greater, it only stands to reason that there will be people who desire to use it.

It's not immediately obvious why this should offend me. Christian Scientists refuse medical treatment because they believe intervening in disease is attempting to subvert God's will. I don't believe that the creation or artificial improvement of life is only the province of God, since I am a biologist and believe that life is no more special or unique to creation than neutron stars. But it seems like cheating.

Barry Bonds is by some accounts a great baseball player. But by other accounts, his home-run records and his tremendous presence in the batter's box should count for naught, because they are (almost certainly) the result of steroid use. Barry Bonds cheats at baseball. And similarly, I think those who elect to use genetic engineering to create customized babies are cheating at life.

Unfortunately, the page is blank and we have to draw our own lines. God is regrettably asleep and the only rules we have are the ones we made up. It's hard, very hard, to stick doggedly to such rules. Someone will inevitably cheat, according to their own rules or someone else's. They will convince themselves that it's okay to cheat because God isn't there. We can do what we can do. We are our own gods now.

01 November, 2004

Quality journalism / apologia for bin Laden

Here is CNN's transcript of bin Laden's recent public appearance. (Should I say "President bin Laden"? He seems to have more decision-making authority over American affairs than Bush does.) Meanwhile, here is the actual, unexpurgated transcript made available by al-Jazeera. Curiously CNN does not bother to inform you that theirs is crudely hacked up (excluding such tidbits as praise of Robert Fisk, or mention of sources where you can find other of bin Laden's exegetical interviews). Lovely people.

I rather like bin Laden as a speaker. He's always incisive, and I think it's only sheer blind hate for him that prevents people from taking him seriously. I find him compelling in the same way I found Timothy McVeigh compelling We're told that these men are inhuman monsters, that their malice comes from an ideology of pure hate, from unadulterated evil.

But this is wrong: I think, oddly enough, the most frightening monsters amongst us are the most human of all. To pretend they are beasts is only meant to excuse ourselves; when WE slaughter, we do it out of compassion, not bestiality.

Addendum: I was totally mistaken on the reason for the varying transcripts. Apparently CNN's was based on al-Jazeera's initial, edited airing of the tape, and al-Jazeera later released a full transcript. But I still think CNN is a bunch of bastards.

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