Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shall these bones live?

In what has to count as one of the saddest medical experiments ever, the body of the late Jahi McMath is still being sustained on life support, one year and counting, in accord with her mother's delusive belief that she is alive, a belief aided and abetted by a few quacks.
It is exactly a year since 13-year-old Jahi McMath fell brain dead following a minor operation and doctors signed her death certificate.
But she remains hooked to a ventilator.
In a case that has ignited debate over the definition of brain death, Jahi's parents remain adamant that as long as her heart is beating, she is alive.
To prove that point, the family from Oakland, California, released videos in October of the girl which showed her foot and hand appearing to move in response to her mother's commands. 
However, numerous medics have dismissed the apparent development as involuntary muscle reflex often seen in brain-dead patients - the so-called Lazarus effect.  
Paul Fisher, a Stanford University pediatric neurologist, told a California judge in October that he sees no evidence that Jahi McMath is alive 10 months after a coroner signed her death certificate.
Jahi was declared brain dead on December 12, 2013, after she went into cardiac arrest following surgery to treat sleep apnea.
Fisher dismissed videos showing the girl moving her hands and feet at her mother's command.  
Her family wants Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to issue what would be an unprecedented order to reverse the death certificate, declaring her to be alive after being declared brain dead.
The family's lawyer Christopher Dolan told the judge he wanted time for the court-appointed doctor and his own medical experts to confer. No new court date has been scheduled. 
'There wasn't time to react to this letter,' Dolan said. 'Given the fact that we were up against the time crunch ... I thought that we were going to be in essence sandbagged.' 
Dolan objected to Fisher's appointment as an independent expert, arguing that the doctor has a conflict of interest because he was one of the physicians who agreed with the brain-death diagnosis last December. 


I'd taken a little break from following news, and resurfaced to this farce, elegantly summed up by Andrew O'Hehir.
Let me see if I have this right, because the whole thing stretches credulity: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has apparently managed to kill a major Hollywood movie. I mean, a stupid one, by all accounts, but still. We had a choice – “we” being a term of art that does not actually include you and me – of whether to stand tall for the supposed principles of free expression and free enterprise or “let the terrorists win.” We let them win, with barely a moment’s hesitation. Now an upcoming Steve Carell thriller set in North Korea has been canceled, too. It’s a breathtaking and total victory by a despised, isolated and impoverished nation (or by those acting on its behalf), over one of the biggest media corporations in the world.
In next year's bad movie, the plot will be that an alleged North Korean hack was in fact an in-house job by the movie company to drum up buzz for an otherwise unwatchable picture.  And a competitor  movie will focus on the the cyber-security experts, those who raise alarms about hacking and demand that all companies adopt cyber -security to specifications detailed by the same cyber-security experts who sell that cyber-security to meet those specifications, who, it turns out (spoiler alert!) are behind a corporate hack as a marketing ploy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cromnibus and the United States of Corporatia

Here are some things that delegitimate the state:
  • police posing a greater threat to citizens than criminals
  • biased application of laws
We saw far too much evidence of these in the last weeks.
  • Private interests writing its own favorable legislation
 Yesterday's passage of the Cromnibus bill provides the example:
The bill that Citigroup helped draft: This bill would repeal one of the more contentious provisions in Dodd Frank, a requirement that banks “push out” some derivatives trading into separate units that are not backed by the government’s deposit insurance fund. The proponents of the push-out rule argued that it would isolate risky trading from parts of a bank eligible for a government bailout.
The provision exempted many derivatives from the push-out requirement, but some Republicans have long proposed eliminating the provision altogether.
In late 2011, Citigroup floated a compromise. The bank’s lobbyists sent around a proposal that simply exempted a wider array of derivatives from the push-out plan.
As The New York Times reported last year, lawmakers adopted nearly every word of Citigroup’s plan in drafting a bill. The bank’s recommendations are reflected in more than 70 of the 85 lines of that bill. [my bolding]
It seems to me that the moral case for obeying laws of a state like this has been decimated. There might be possible states in which there is a moral obligation to obey its laws, but it certainly is not the current USA.  


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fire Brennan for crimes against truth

Here's another reason why Obama should fire Brennan---because he is a continuing insult to anyone who respects things like truth, language and evidence.

CIA Director John Brennan said on Thursday that some agency officers used "abhorrent" interrogation techniques and said it was "unknowable" whether so-called enhanced interrogation techniques managed to get useful intelligence out of terrorism suspects.
"I have already stated that our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives," Brennan told a news conference at the agency's Virginia headquarters.
"But let me be clear. We have not concluded that it was the use of EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques) within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees subjected to them. The cause-and-effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable," he added. [my bolding]
Give me a fucking break. The evidence is in, from your own precious CIA files and they clearly show that torturing your captives did not provide useful information. This isn't metaphysics and we aren't talking about the noumenal self. We are talking about empirical evidence now made available to all those who choose to read it (obviously, not a choice Brennan is making). 

Adventures in mendacity: CIA edition

Soon- to-be- former-senator -Mark Udall calls on what on hopes is soon-to-be-former CIA director Brennan to resign.
"The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture," Udall said. "In other words: The CIA is lying."
Obama, Udall said, "has expressed full confidence in Director Brennan and demonstrated that trust by making no effort at all to rein him in." Udall additionally referred to Brennan's "failed leadership" and suggested that he should resign.
I disagree with that last. I think Brennan should be fired.
"Torture just didn't happen, after all," Udall said. "Real, actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the CIA."
Udall said it was bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them, he said, was incomprehensible. Udall called on Obama "to purge" his administration of anyone who was engaged in torturing prisoners.
"He needs to force a cultural change at the CIA," Udall said.
And, Udall said, the institutional problems are far from over. "CIA was knowingly providing inaccurate information to the committee in the present day," he said.
Everything these torturers say should be considered a lie, including the claim of former directors of the CIA in the WSJ that they hadn't lied. That's demonstrably false, and all their meretricious arguments to the contrary should be treated with at least the same contempt these scum show to the law, to human beings and to the truth.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rolling Stone UVA rape mess

By now, the whole world knows about the Rolling Stone fuck-up of the UVA rape story, how RS backed away from it on Friday, in light of pieces in the Washington Post and elsewhere, then backed away from their statement of backing away [initially they blamed the student whose story of rape was recounted in the story, (nice going guys) then they put the blame on themselves (let's face it, this was an editorial/fact checking failure)]. The rancid mess of reporting on the rancid mess of college sex assault got even messier and more rancid when the then roommate of the student source sort of backed the story, and a lowest of low-life sewage slurping scum of a blogger published a name he alleged belonged to the student source. At Jezebel, Anna Merlen sums up the latest here.

New news from fake academic publishing

More fun from the fake-authors-scamming-fake-publishers-with-fake-articles front:
A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals.
Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.
 Note that these two scammed and scam publications are not the illustrious fake Journal of Advanced Computer Technology scammed by the fake paper "Get me off your fucking mailing list". We can only hope we soon see the publication in a SCIRP journal by a piece authored by Selma and Patricia Bouvier?
(h/t boris)