Saturday, March 06, 2004

Natural Life Expectancy

The Foundation for Infinite Survival has a nice survival table of mortality rates at different ages stitched together from historical and archeological estimates. Handy to flip out next time some semi-sophisticated Luddite argues that increases in life expectancy were achieved only through reductions in infant mortality. In other words, even if you drag all the lines on the left at the 5 year mark back up to 100%, and have the table be life expectancy at age 5, you can see the dramatic improvements in the last two thousand years. Nothing to whats coming of course.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Scratch head, sacrifice chicken, chant "Betta days a comin'"

New York Times
Job Growth Stalls in February, Surprising Forecasters

March 5, 2004

Job creation all but stalled in February, surprising Wall Street forecasters and making life difficult for President Bush as he begins his re-election campaign. The economy added just 21,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported today, down sharply from January's gain and far below the type of increase that was common in the 1980's and 1990's. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent, mostly because many people have stopped looking for work since late last year, removing them from the governments official count of the unemployed...Manufacturers eliminated jobs for the 43rd consecutive month. Weekly wages for most of the workforce have risen less than 2 percent over the last year, roughly the rate of inflation. The average length of unemployment increased to 20.3 weeks, its highest level since 1984.
Bush-Hoover in 2004!

NBIC Anxious About Transhumanism-Bashing from Xian Right

Jack Mason, reporting in Small Times on the recent Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno (NBIC) meetings in New York, notes the dramatic reaction of co-director Mihail Roco to Zack Lynch's panel which waxed poetic about the transhumanist implications of neuroceuticals.
Roco jumped to his feet to distance the NBIC mission from any connection to the 'transhumanist' philosophy that supports overcoming biological limitations through technology. While some of the vision for NBIC may bleed over into a fringe interested in 'posthuman' civilization, talk of cyborgs and mutants is presumably not good for winning support and funding for sober science. In fact, Roco emphasized that upgrading human beings and culture over the next two decades through interdisciplinary science must be done in a way 'that respects human dignity.' How that idea gets parsed as the debate moves ahead remains an open question."
Can you blame the guy? The Repuglicans control all branches of the US government, and could crush the NBIC program in a second if the increasingly bold Kassoids and Christian Right blew the whistle on the channeling of millions of federal dollars to human enhancement. In an election year, the Xians have the Repugs by the short hairs - no support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, for instance, then we don't deliver our Gospel-opiated workers and poor to the polls in November. We can only hope that the corporate biotech and military-industrial interest in NBIC is strong enough to rebuff the Know-Nothings. On the other hand if the administration were to whack the NBIC program it would only set back progress a couple years, and might help clarify things handily, with all the conservatives lining up with the bioLudds and all the liberals overcoming their knee-jerk Luddism to discover the virtues of the emergent technologies and human enhancement. Hey, with dialectics we can always make lemonade out of historical lemons! (That's dialectics not dianetics.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Trends suggest 27 hour work week by 2050

Marshall Brain says half our jobs will disappear by 2050. But maybe it'll just be half our work week.

Working Less and Living Longer: Long-Term Trends in Working Time and Time Budgets - J.H. Ausubel and A. Grubler
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 50, 113-131 (1995).
Abstract: Analyses of time series data beginning in the mid-nineteenth century in the industrialized nations, especially the United Kingdom, show that on average people are working significantly less while living longer. Although the average career length has remained around 40 years, the total life hours worked shrank for an average British worker from 124,000 hours in 1856 to 69,000 in 1981. The fraction of disposable lifetime hours spent working declined from 50% to 20%. Meanwhile the female share of career years doubled to 30%. If the long-term trends continue at their historic rates, the work week might average 27 hours by the year 2050. The secular trend away from the formalized work contract to other socially obligatory activities and free time implies numerous challenges for human societies.

Chris C Mooney illuminates on the Kass Council Stacking Controversy

Chris C Mooney blogs extensiveley on the stacking of the PCB, and notes about the bioethicists' petition below:
The letter was circulated by Arthur Caplan, a prominent bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. Its signatories are all either the heads of medical school bioethics programs or teachers of bioethics or medical ethics. Some names, besides Caplan's, include Glenn McGee, also at the University of Pennsylvania and editor of the American Journal of Bioethics; Jonathan Moreno, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia Health System; Peter Singer of Princeton University (who probably needs no introduction); Mary Ann Baily and Bruce Jennings of the Hastings Center; Eric Cassell of Cornell University Medical College (also a Hastings Center fellow); David Magnus, co-director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics; and numerous distinguished others.

The bioethics profession isn't all that large; this is an impressive swath of it. The field is also very diverse, and so these signatories include lawyers, doctors, people in public health, and other specialties. But the point is, a large number of these folks are doctors or scientists. And they, like the signatories to the Union of Concerned Scientist statement, believe the Bush administration has gone way, way too far. Yesterday I spoke with one of the signers, the University of Virginia's Jonathan Moreno, who said of his field, 'This is the first time that I can remember, and I've been around since the late '70s, that there's been such a public split.' On the other side of the 'split,' of course, are Leon Kass and his ardent supporters. "

Bioethicists Protest Stacking of Bioethics Panel


President George Bush
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear President Bush:
In the absence of any public reasons explaining your action, we write
to strongly protest your decision not to reappoint Professors William
F. May and Elizabeth Blackburn to your Council on Bioethics.  The
creation of sound public policy with respect to developments in
medicine and the life sciences requires a council that has a diverse
set of views and positions.   By dismissing those two individuals and
appointing new members whose views are likely to closely reflect those
of the majority of the council and its chair the credibility of the
council is severely compromised.  On controversial ethical issues your
Council must consist of members with a wide range of opinions in order
to provide wise, prudent and effective advice on the many challenges
and opportunities presented by advances in biomedicine.

Arthur Caplan  PhD 
University of Pennsylvania

Gerald Dworkin PhD 
University of California-Davis

Chris Feudtner, MD PhD MPH
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

James Coyne PhD  
University of Pennsylvania

Glenn McGee Ph.D 
U of Penn
Sally Nunn RN 
U of Penn

Claire Pouncey MD PhD 
Weill Cornell Medical School, New York Presbyterian Hospital.

David Doukas MD 
U of Penn

Laurence B. McCullough PhD 
Baylor College of Medicine

Jonathan D Moreno PhD 
University of Virginia

Jon Merz  JD PhD 
U of Penn

Rosamond Rhodes Ph.D. 
Mt Sinai School of Medicine

Charles Bosk PhD 
Univ of Penn

Robert Baker PhD  
Union College

Dominic Sisti  MBE
Holy Redeemer Hospital, Philadelphia

Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH 
SUNY Stony Brook

Timothy E Quill  MD 
University of Rochester School of Medicine

Jason Karlawish MD
Univ of Penn

Reed E Pyeritz  PhD  MD  
Univ of Pennsylvania

Michael Green MD
Penn State College of Medicine

David Casarett MD MA 
Univ of Pennsylvania

Patricia Smith  PhD
City University of New York

Jane Greenlaw  JD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Peter Singer 
Princeton University

Mary Ann Baily, Ph.D.
The Hastings Center

Dorothy Zinberg  PhD
Harvard University

A.L. Robichaud, Ph.D.
Cleveland State University

Leonard M Fleck  PhD
Michigan State University

Tom Tomlinson, Ph.D.
Michigan State University

Robert T Pennock PhD
Michigan State University

Steven Miles MD
University of Minnesota

Kyle Cole  PhD
American Academy of Religion

George J Agich 
Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Andrew Light PhD
New York University

Karen Kovach, PhD
Mercer University School of Medicine

John K. Davis, Ph.D., J.D.
The Brody School of Medicine
East Carolina University

Kathy Faber-Langendoen, M.D.
SUNY Upstate Medical University

Eric Cassell MD 
Cornell Medical School

Todd L. Savitt, PhD
Brody School of Medicine
East Carolina University

John C. Moskop, Ph.D.
Brody School of Medicine,
East Carolina University

Kelly C. Smith PhD
Clemson University  

Mark Siegler MD
University of Chicago

Margaret M Gaffney MD
Indiana University School of Medicine
G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS
University of Chicago

Debra JH Mathews, PhD, MA
Johns Hopkins University

William Ruddick PhD
New York University

Barbara Katz Rothman
City University of New York

James L. Nelson
Michigan State University

David DeGrazia 
George Washington University

Eric M. Meslin PhD
Indiana University.

Dena S. Davis, J.D., Ph.D.
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Janet A. Deatrick RN PHD
University of Pennsylvania

Eugene C. Grochowski, Ph.D., M.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Howard Brody, MD, PhD
Michigan State University

Janet Fleetwood, Ph.D.
Drexel University College of Medicine

Daniel E. Wueste, Ph.D.
Clemson University

Anita Silvers PhD
San Francisco State

Samuel Gorovitz  Ph.D
Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University

Thomas Finacune MD
Johns Hopkins University

Rebecca Kukla  PhD  
Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins

Martin Benjamin PhD
Michigan State University

Kenneth D Pimple PhD
Indiana University

Stephen Satris PhD
Clemson University

Hilde L. Nelson PhD
Michigan State University

Mary Faith Marshall PhD
Kansas University MedicalCenter for Bioethics

Virginia Ashby Sharpe PhD
Georgetown University Medical Center

Libby Bogdan-Lovis PhD
Michigan State University

Lainie Ross MD
University of Chicago

Nancy E Kass ScD
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Bonnie Steinbock PhD
University at Albany, SUNY

Julia A Pedroni PhD
Williams College

Linda Granowetter MD
Columbia University Medical Center

Joseph C. d'Oronzio  PhD MPH
Columbia University

Evelyne Shuster PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Loretta M. Kopelman PhD
East Carolina University

Arthur E Kopelman MD
Brody School of Medicine,
East Carolina University

Betsy L Fife PhD
Indiana University

Gary A Mitchell MD
Indiana University School of Medicine

Paul Root Wolpe PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Ruth Macklin PhD
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Amnon Goldworth PhD
Stanford University

Andrea Gurmankin PhD
Rutgers University

Dale Jamieson PhD
New York University

Lynne D. Richardson MD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Alan Meisel  JD
University of Pittsburgh

Paul T Menzel PhD
Pacific Lutheran University

Kimberly A Quaid PhD
Indiana University School of Medicine

Bruce Jennings
The Hastings Center

Pamela Sankar PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Margaret Battin PhD
University of Utah

Mark Sheldon PhD
Northwestern University

Rosa Lynn Pinkus PhD
University of Pittsburgh

Mark Wicclair PhD
University of West Virginia

Hilary Bok PhD
Johns Hopkins University

Dana Katz MBE
University of Pennsylvania

Tom Beauchamp PhD
Georgetown University

David Magnus PhD
Stanford University

Jeffrey Blustein PhD
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Jason T Eberl PhD
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Thomas Wm Mayo
Southern Methodist University

Kristen Hessler
Iowa State University

Arthur R. Derse, M.D., J.D.
Medical College of Wisconsin

Hans-Martin Sass PhD
Georgetown University

Rosemarie Tong, Ph.D.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

James J. Strain, MD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Erik Parens PhD
The HastingsCenter for Bioethics

Susan Wolf JD
University of Minnesota

Paul J Reitemeier, Ph.D.
Grand Valley State University

Benjamin H Levi  MD PhD
Penn State College of Medicine

James J. McCartney, OSA, Ph.D.
Villanova University

Joel E. Frader, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital/Northwestern University

Linda MacDonald Glenn, JD, LLM
University of Vermont

Shane K. Green, PhD
American Medical Association

Peter C Williams JD PhD
School of Medicine, SUNY Stony Brook

Cynthia B. Cohen, PhD, JD
Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

Kelley E Ormond  MS CGC
Northwestern University

Peter J Cohen  MD JD
Georgetown University LawCenter for Bioethics

Lisa S Parker PhD
University of Pittsburgh

Mildred Cho PhD
Stanford University

Katrina Karkazis, PhD, MPH
Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics

Carol Bayley
Catholic Healthcare West

Ben Rich MD
University of California at Davis School of Medicine

Timothy F. Murphy PhD
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

Thomas A Raffin MD
Stanford University

Felicia N Ackerman PhD
Brown University

Rosalie A. Kane, PhD
University of Minnesota.

Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP
Portland State University

Susan E. Lederer, ph.d.
Yale University

Sandra K Masur PhD
Mt Sinai School of Medicine

Linda Hogle PhD
University of Wisconsin

Maren Grainger-Monsen MD
Stanford University

Sally L Tobin PhD, MSW
Stanford University

Bernard Baumrin PhD
CUNY, Graduate Center

Carol Tauer PhD
University of Minnesota

Douglas Diekema MD
University of Washington

Karen Adams MD
University of Oregon

David Orentlicher MD JD
Indiana University

Mary Anderlik Majumder JD PhD
Baylor University

Constance Perry PhD
Drexel University

James Hughes PhD
Trinity College

Ken Kipnis PhD
University of Hawaii

Kelly Freyer-Edwards PhD
University of Washington

Michael Yesley JD
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Joy Skeel RN
Medical College of Ohio

Arthur Caplan
The Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics,
Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics
and Director, Center for Bioethics
University of Pennsylvania

More on the Stacking of the Kass Council

Jim Pethokoukis give Natasha V-M a tasty little quote in his Next News column for US News and World Report. Yesterday he wrote:
News that President Bush has dismissed two members of his bioethics council reminds me of a chat I had with Natasha Vita-More at last summer's TransVision 2003 conference at Yale University. Vita-More is an artist-or 'cultural catalyst' as she likes to put it-and a well-known member of the transhumanist movement, an international group of highly educated technophiles who want to use genetic engineering and other advanced technologies to someday overcome the biological limitations of the human body and transform themselves into 'posthumans.'

I asked Vita-More what she thought of the bioethics council, which had been criticized by some for being top-heavy with conservatives like chairman and bioethicist Leon Kass and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. 'It's funny,' she said. 'The council is against cloning but it's full of nothing but clones.' If she and other bioliberals thought the council was too intellectually cohesive and bioconservative before, they are going to like it even less now
Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes in TCS that he thinks the stacking of the PCB is just another sign of the stupidity of the Bush administration:
nobody will take the Council's recommendations seriously. The White House will be in the position of those fat bureaucrats at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, telling us that 'top men' are looking carefully at the issues when, in fact, nothing of the sort is going on. Some critics are already calling for the Council to be abolished, and -- having called it 'phony' long ago -- I'm inclined to agree. Indeed, this problem seems so obvious to me that I have to wonder who's running the show at the White House, and how they can manage to be so clueless on this sort of thing. It's not simply dishonest. It's inept.
Of course, Kass is fighting back arguing that his Council has only received universal praise, that it has been composed of all the top talent, that all voices were heard, that there has been no stacking, and that no one was axed for political reasons. But we really need look no further than this exuberant report in the right-wing Christian
Bush Appoints More Pro-Life Bioethics Council Members, Kerry Criticizes

President Bush has removed two members from his bioethics council who had been among the more outspoken advocates of destructive embryonic stem cell research. In their place, Bush has appointed three new members -- all of whom take a more pro-life view regarding the controversial research that destroys human embryos for their stem cells.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Can't decide which candidate to vote for?

Try AOL News/Time's Election 2004 President Match decision guide!

My results?

1. Kucinich - Score: 100%

2. Sharpton - Score: 95%

3. Kerry - Score: 77%

4. Edwards - Score: 69%


The Gift of Magnetic Vision

Todd Huffman gets a nice write-up and interview, with graphic pictures of his magnetic implant, in the Body Modification Zine article "The Gift of Magnetic Vision"
One important aspect of my life is transhumanism. I have been identifying myself as a transhumanist since the age of thirteen...

Christians warned about transhumanism 25 years ago and today

In his article "They indeed were prophetic" Southern Baptist R. Albert Mohler celebrates the 25th anniversary of the bioLuddite warning of evangelical conservatives Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop in "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?".
We now face threats to human dignity unimaginable just a quarter-century ago. We must now deal with the ethical challenges of embryo research, human cloning, the Human Genome Project and the rise of transhuman technologies. Even with many Christians aware and active on these issues, we are losing ground.
You will remember that Koop was Bush I's Surgeon General.

Virtual Feminization

Just tell me if my personal obsession with transgender issues goes over the top...But I thought the Virtual Feminization site was pretty cool. For $60 the artists at VF will take a photo of any man and show them the beautiful woman trapped inside. Gender transform fantasies are, of course, much more common than actual transsexualism, but I wonder if being able to get a virtual makeover might convince some of the fantasizers who are reluctant to take the plunge?

[Thanks to Fleshbot for the tip]