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Steely Dan: Confessions

Words and Mood - updated 2004.05.10

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

- from September 1, 1939, by W.H. Auden


Monday, May 23, 2005


"Hey, go fetch a leech from your barber!"

Back in the 70's, when it was still actually funny and known to present cutting edge comedy, Saturday Night Live had a sporadically recurring character called Theodoric of York, medieval barber. Lampooning the ignorance of the dark ages, it was played by Steve Martin when he guest hosted the show, and depicted him prescribing ridiculous, superstition driven remedies for numerous ailments. Towards the end of the sketch, he would have a sudden flash of insight that went like this:

Theodoric of York: [ steps toward the camera ] Wait a minute. Perhaps she's right. Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly folow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a "scientific method". Maybe this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning: the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation. Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance! [ thinks for a minute ] Naaaaaahhh!

Of late, we seem to have our own medieval barber striding the land. Perhaps he thinks that science, technology, and medicine need to be "faith based" too, like so many of his other initiatives. He even seems to have his own method for dealing with South Korea's sudden emergence as the therapeutic cloning power of the world, said method appearing to be repression and ignorance.

Just a few years ago, Michigan State University scientist Jose Cibelli was considered the leading expert on cloning human embryos to treat and study disease. Now, there's no debate that the cloning king is Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University.

On Thursday, Hwang announced yet again that he had successfully cloned human embryos, this time extracting stem cells from embryos created using the DNA of sick and injured patients. It was the second time in a little more than a year that Hwang had successfully cloned.

Hwang is succeeding where the United States is failing because generous South Korean government support helped him create an efficient cloning factory. In his lab, an army of researchers trained in specialized individual tasks mans a high-tech assembly line that often operates 24 hours a day, Cibelli and others say.

In contrast, the few U.S. researchers eager to clone are left scrambling for funds and staff and must contend with legal vagaries as well as staunch opposition from
President Bush, who reaffirmed his position on Friday with a veto threat.

"I'm very concerned about cloning," Bush said. "I worry about a world in which cloning becomes accepted."

Yeah, George... if it becomes accepted, all those poor barbers and leech salesmen might be out of work. But don't worry... the clod who hasn't used his veto power even so much as once during his presidency plans to save it for when it's truly needed.

President Bush has condemned stem cell research advances in
South Korea and said he worried about living in a world in which human cloning was condoned. He said he would veto any legislation aimed at loosening limits on federal support in the United States.

"I'm very concerned about cloning," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. "I worry about a world in which cloning becomes acceptable."

"I made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science

Now if the boy king had stopped here, he might have been accurate. But he continues...

which destroys life in order to save life is — I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it."

Republicans in Congress are sharply divided over the stem cell issue, which could lead to the first veto of Bush's presidency. The president's comments were aimed at putting the brakes on a bill gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.

Thanks, George. Knowing that you plan to keep the US for technological progress and new medical techniques makes me feel so much better. But hey, when it comes to dumb medical decisions and casting aside science for superstition cloaked as 'religious belief', why stop there? Why not have a whole new class of barbers-cum-pharmacists dictate what medicines they will and won't dispense, some even refusing to release the prescription to another pharmacist? YEAHHHHHHH...

But hey, the government doesn't have a double standard between medications to enable birth and reproductive control for women and those used to help guys sprout wood on a dime, do they?

New York's comptroller urged the nation's top health official Sunday to ban high-risk sex offenders and convicted rapists from receiving Viagra paid for by Medicaid.

"Federal, state and local reimbursement for the cost of erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders raises serious policy considerations and has the potential to place the public at risk," Comptroller Alan Hevesi wrote Michael Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services.

"I am asking that you take immediate action to ensure that sex offenders do not receive erectile dysfunction medication paid for by the taxpayers. I urge you to take administrative action to remedy the situation or draft an amendment to the underlying statute as appropriate," Hevesi wrote.

Hevesi said his office found that from January 1, 2000, through March 31, 2005, 198 Level 3 sex offenders received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after being convicted of a sex offense. Sex offenders are those convicted of crimes such as rape, sexual abuse, and sexual conduct against a child.

Level 3 offenders are those considered by the courts most likely to commit crimes again.

According to Hevesi, his office determined in its audit that the victims of the sex crimes during the five-year period ranged from toddlers to a woman as old as 90; and the crimes included first-degree rape.

NAHHHHHH!!! Couldn't be... I mean, if a "conscience driven" pharmacist hands out boner pills to a convicted rapist, he rapes somebody and the victim becomes pregnant, and the same pharmacist denies a morning after pill to the victim as "immoral", I'm sure he has everybody's best interests in mind and we shouldn't question it.

And if you don't like that, I'm sure he can give you a good deal on a nice juicy leech.

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