Monthly Archives: January 2008

Bureaucracy and death

This is somewhat late. Non the less…Respectful Insolence has all the gory details:

The American government’s Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) has forced some hospitals to halt a program that threatened to save thousands of lives (and millions of dollars) annually. Why? Because it was, allegedly, an unethical experiment, done without the approval of the patients. To the uninitiated, this might seem to be an interesting conflict between doctors who want to carry on doing dangerous experiments, and government officials who try to bind the doctors to the rules of a democratic society.

Forbidden fruit
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Consumerism. Why did they do it?

A good friend has emailed me with a very cute little link, depicting the wows of consumerism. It’s rather charming. Really. Have a look:

The good people at “story of stuff” make an interesting mistake glitch, though.

The presenter, Annie Leonard, correctly ascribes consumerism, that plague that makes us violate the earth, to post-WWII American politics. As she describes it, the US government (followed suit by the rest of the western world) developed consumerism because it was “a means to boost the economy”. That is a gross understatement, and a historical misunderstanding. I agree wholeheartedly with most of what she says in that short movie of hers. But this is one point I would like to correct. It is a rather interesting one. If you want all the gory details, go and read Tony Judt’s excellent PostWar. Here comes the shorthand:

The consumer-goods economy isn’t a matter of governments sucking to big corporations. It’s really a political issue of a grander scale. In fact, it is about fighting (and winning) the two most important political wars of the 20th century: the war on communism and the war on fascism.
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Important news of 2007

From NotExactlyRocketScience

Is human culture influenced by brain parasites?

From Real Climate:

A new report (pdf) called The Age of Consequences, just released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, tries to bring the social sciences, in particular history, geography, and political science, into the forecast of climate change in the coming century. It makes for fascinating if frightening reading.