Monday, June 12, 2006

Who Wants to be an X-Man?

After the success of the X-Men movie franchise, the third of which premeried Memorial Day weekend, probably quite a few people. But while most of us daydream about adamantium claws and telepathy, there are a few people who are taking the idea seriously.

Last week, at a conference called "Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights," a group of academics met to consider what a world with X-Men, or their genetically modified equivalents, might look like. While nobody is donning tights and hurling bolders just yet, the gathering was an interesting counterpoint to the Hollywood movie in which mainstream society sought a "cure" to the superhumans, or mutants, living among them.

From the silver screen to the ivory tower the question is the same: is genetic modification a crime against humanity, a disease to be prevented; or is it the next stage of human evolution, and an individual right to be protected?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Combination of Powers

While I don't view the judiciary as the last bastion of partisan-free governance in this country - recent judicial appointees, including Alito and Roberts, don't exactly have a track record as moderates - it remains, unquestionably, the least politicized branch of our democracy. Furthermore, because we are a common law country, where judicial precedent matters, by upholding not only the Constitution and the laws of this country, but by respecting past binding judicial decisions as well, the judiciary acts a historically-anchored brake on social trends, slowly the rapid progress of fleeting social trends and preventing their entrenchment unless and until they demonstrate truly long-term popular support.

Regrettably, even the appearance of judicial neutrality soon find itself threatened in some parts of this country. In Alabama, four Republican candidates for the State Supreme Court who "claimed they could pick and choose which U.S. Supreme Court decisions they would follow" were defeated in the primary elections held last week.

That's the good news. The bad news is that such a platform was considered viable by Republican strategists. Is Alabama an aberration, or will this judicial campaign strategy be repeated across the country, as would-be judges play politics with voters, pandering to their basest instincts at the expense of the rule of law?

Monday, June 05, 2006

How Tired Are You?


Things have been very busy around these parts (as evidenced by the almost total lack of posting for a while now). Despite all the work, apparently my reactions are still humming along decently enough. To find out how you stack up (and how much more coffee you need to drink), take a spin with this addictive little BBC time sink and go dart some sheep.

Then, after you've done that, please tell me how in the heck you can get to "turbo-charged cheetah" status. I'm wondering if it's not actually possible and the creators of this productivity black hole are conducting some sort of background research to see how long I will continually return to play this game, attempting to achieve the elusive cheetah status. If anybody manages it, please post your screenshot, just so I can live vicariously through you.