Everything is impossibly complicated

Archive for the ‘Progress’ Category

Sexist Medicine

Medicine has a long, sorry history of focusing on men. Happily, that seems to be changing, with a number of new studies coming out that examine how the medical experiences of men and women differ (and not just for the sexual differences). This article surveys some of the recent research on how the immune system of women differs from men. It appears that women tend to have immune systems that respond more strongly and quickly to infections, which is thought to perhaps be tied to childbearing (in order to protect a nascent life inside of you, your body has to be more aggressive in stamping out infection). Unfortunately, this may also be the reason that women suffer disproportionately from auto-immune diseases, which result from an over-enthusiastic immune response. It also appears to mean that women react to vaccinations differently than men, perhaps only needing half the dose (or so) that men need. As more studies are done on these differences, it’ll be interesting to see what comes up.

Not Voting

I read an interesting blog post by a pastor named Thabiti Anyabwile. Pastor Anyabwile seems to be pretty well respected among the more neo-Calvinist-leaning blogs I read. The post is W.E.B DuBois Would Not Vote in This Election.

DuBois was, among many things, a graduate of Harvard and an active leader of the civil rights movement in the early 1900s. In a speech given in 1956, DuBois gave his reasons why he wouldn’t vote. He describes the many elections he participated in, all of which had done no good in his opinion. For example,

…In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us…

By the time 1956 came around, DuBois was fed up:

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party…

In particular, I appreciate that he didn’t do this out of despair, but rather out of a determination to no longer continually compromise the ideal of liberty and democracy for the “lesser of two evils”:

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest…

Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

Why Republicans Are No Better Than Democrats

I had a discussion at work about the Republican National Convention that happened about a month ago. The coworker was telling me some interesting things that he’d seen reported on Fox News, which I think I’ve mostly been able to confirm on other web sites.

Also note that I don’t understand the Republican caucus process very well, so I may not be able to explain everything as well as I’d like.

Essentially what happened was that Ron Paul had enough delegates to receive a nomination at the RNC. That wouldn’t have meant he would have automatically been the presidential candidate; it just would have meant that they would have had to vote between Paul and Romney at the Convention. Under the rules of the Convention, if a person received a plurality of delegate votes (meaning, the person with the most votes, even if it’s not more than 50%) from five or more states, that person could be nominated from the floor of the Convention. Paul had pluralities in eight states.

However, at the Convention they proposed the following rule changes:

  • All states must require that their delegates cast their votes for the person who won the popular vote in the state
  • A person must receive pluralities in 10 states, not 5, to be nominated from the floor
  • The Republican National Committee is allowed to change rules about delegate qualifications between Conventions (which only happen every 4 years), whereas before the entire Convention had to vote to change the rules

The proposed changes were put to a vocal vote. Some reported that the group that did not want the rules changed sounded louder than those who did. But Boehner, allegedly following a scripted teleprompter, said that “the ayes have it” and the rule changes were instituted.

There’s more. A delegate from Virginia had gathered enough signatures for a “minority report” that could be offered for a vote at the Convention, and if it had been voted for and passed, it would have prevented the rules changes. However, for some reason, that delegate’s bus kept circling around instead of taking him to the Convention. The delegates on the bus insisted on getting off, at which point they were prevented by security three times from entering. When the Virginia delegates finally got in, it was too late to propose the measure.

My coworker, who is a staunch libertarian, was so outraged by these tactics that he says he’s determined to vote third party (Gary Johnson, the official libertarian candidate). He saw an ad from Paul Ryan saying that “A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for Obama.” His response was that he’d rather have his vote go for Obama than reward the Republicans for what they’ve done.

Here are a couple of articles where I confirmed most of my information. This first one:


is easier to read if you’re not familiar with the caucus system. This second one:


goes into more detail, and includes a picture of the teleprompter saying that “the ayes have it.”

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