Wijsgerige Overpeinzingen-Philosophical Reflections-Part 2

On Law and Regulation in Various Contexts

Return to The Forthuyse Homepage - http://forthuyse.googlepages.com/home

 

for the laymen among you check on these links:

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

for the more scientitifcally trained among you see also:

dark matter/dark energy

 

But I never jump into anything without  a little hors d'oeuvre, an appetizer, an ante pasta, een voorgerecht:

National Underwear Day History was surely made this week when the Quaint Old Partyfolk strutted their stuff in the dimly lit chambers of Congress before an audience that included "Boy Scouts, members of the German army, stray tourists and even members in shorts and t-shirts" as one observer put it. What they had to say ('lets start drilling in sensitive off shore areas and in Anwar, never mind the risks or the very limited delayed benefits') was not very interesting or relevant to the national debate, so I won't comment any further on it. 

A more elevating news item on environmental responsability can be seen in this  link:

PG&E and The San Francisco LGBT Community Center Rays The Roof ...

 SAN FRANCISCO Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center today celebrated the unveiling of The Centers new state of the art solar energy system. Senator Carole Migden, Assemblymember Mark Leno, San Francisco Treasurer Jose Cisneros and San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting joined the celebration along with several hundred community members who could see live readings of the new systems power generation and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the system has avoided.

The San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center is truly a San Francisco icon, and today the Center is demonstrating yet again its leadership on an issue that is dear to all of us the environment, said Tom King, CEO, PG&E. This is the first of many more solar projects that PG&E will be donating to San Francisco as part of our $7.5 million city-wide solar investment.

The system, manufactured by SunPower and installed by Sun Light and Power, composed of 96 panels rated at 215 watts each is expected to produce over 27,000 kW hours of renewable, green power that will have zero greenhouse gas emissions and will save the Center nearly $5,000 annually in energy costs. The installation of the rooftop solar system, a project managed by The Foundation for Environmental Education, cost $170,000.

And here's more good news: PG&E vows $250000 to keep marriage legal -- Queer Lesbian Gay News ...

Utility company PG&E announced Tuesday that it would donate $250,000 to California's No on Proposition 8 campaign, the Los Angeles Times reported. Company officials also indicated they would attempt to garner support from other companies to defeat the anti-gay measure by assembling a business advisory council on the matter.

California opposes move to ban gay marriage: poll | U.S. | Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Californians are likely to uphold the right to gay marriage in the state by voting against a ballot measure that seeks to override a court ruling allowing same-sex unions, poll results showed on Friday.

The Field Poll survey firm found 51 percent of voters oppose the measure, which proposes an amendment to the state's constitution recognizing marriage as only between a man and woman, while 42 percent were in favor.

Among the electorate, the largest percentage supporting

gender neutral marriage laws

are those that belong to what I call

The Coolest Generation:

i.e. those who came of age in the psychedelic sixties,

aka the Woodstock Generation.

Here is yet another interesting trend:  

New study on gay life: Is Green Gaycres the place to be ...Two-thirds of younger gay people expect to be partnered with kids at some point in their adulthood, while less than a third of gays 35 and older expect the same. Younger gay people have an even mix of gay and straight friends.

Overall, gay people rank marriage equality as the number one issue about which they’re passionate, followed by the environment, health care and the economy.

But is this really so unexpected? When a society takes away the right to a recognized, respected, sanctified, stabilizing, long-term relationship between intimate partners, gay or straight, or makes such relationships well nigh impossible, it promotes promiscuity.

This has been clearly documented in heterosexual relationships among minorities born and bred in slavery, minorities that tend to be  imprisoned in overwhelmingly disproportionate numbers, as well as in homosexual relationships, i.e. among gays.

The double whammy of taking away the right of access to such long-term, recognized relationships and then condemning the promiscuity that necessarily follows in its wake has been an insane policy that may now finally be coming to an end.

Such an insane policy was the result of people blindly following outdated ideologies that were never allowed to evolve in step with the times, but always seem to follow behind.

But follow they must, sooner or later,  lest they become extinct. Many of these outmoded ideologies that refuse to give in to the natural flow of social evolution will indeed find themselves dying on the vine, as they have been all over Europe already.

Can America be far behind--or can it buck the trend by joining ranks with the more progressive policies before it is too late for them as well?

That is the question awaiting an answer. Here are two more relevant links:

Gay youth want long-term relationships, raising kids - AOL India News

The state of gay unions: Twosomes, threesomes and more -- Queer ...

The research that has now been confirmed shows that approximately one-third of long-term male couples who have been together for maybe five years or more are sexually exclusive, and that two-thirds of couples are honestly nonmonogamous. And that has been pretty much the statistic pre-AIDS and post-AIDS.

Some people choose to be critical of honest non-monogamy, but it sure beats dishonesty and  hypocrisy, although of course it looks more moral and even Christian while it remains undetected, especially when followed by the usual crocodile tears and reborn remorse. Let me give you an illustration of what I am trying to say:

Unlike many other Democrats, I never favored John Edwards--I actually liked his wife Elizabeth a lot more. This was mostly based on intuition, but also on some facts. For one thing, she came out in favor of gay marriage, John was against it. I always felt there was something not quite up front about him, that  he came across as way too slick, with too many eye fluttering mannerisms, too smooth a haircut and too honeyed a voice. So what happened? He lied about an extramarital affair while he was running for president and Elizabeth was struggling with cancer. Now he is sorry. Very sorry. Crocodile tears sorry. 

I prefer that legally blind but far more perceptive New York Governor Patterson. Not only does he have a great sence of humor, but he knows when to come clean--and that is not after a lot of lying to the press, but as soon as the matter becomes of significant public importance:

Gov. Paterson admits to sex with other woman for years

...applause was still ringing in his ears when the state's new governor, David Paterson, told the Daily News that he and his wife had extramarital affairs.

Mind you, that was really no one else's business, but because of the scandal with his predecessor, Governor Paterson very wisely decided to divulge these affairs to the press. It is sad that we live in a society nowadays  that has such unseemly prurient interest in what some people do in private.

Traditionally that was never the case before and it raises the question as to what is preferable: an honestly non-monogomous marriage that lasts 16 years or longer or a monogomous marriage that ends in divorce after 8 years or sooner because of dishonesty and hypocrisy. Here are some interesting statistics:

Divorce Statistics, Marriage Statistics: Divorce Rates in America ...  --let me quote:

Median duration of first marriages that end in divorce: Males: 7.8 years
Females: 7.9 years
Median duration of second marriages that end in divorce: Males: 7.3 years
Females: 6.8 years

The ideal of marriages that last until death may be a romantic concept, but it is highly unrealistic in a society where circumstances change rapidly and people change at different rates of adaptation to different rates of change. In the old days things and people pretty much remained unchanged, or changed barely over many years and indeed over many generations.

Such is not the case anymore, so we might as well wake up to these greatly altered circumstances. Even in the old days, when someone was missing, he or she was presumed dead after seven years--and the surviving partner considered free to remarry.

Many years ago I coined the term adjustment lag--and under this general term fall the many more specific categories such as jet lag, culture shock and future shock.

Adjustment lag in marital relationships is obviously far more of an issue in our times than it was in the much slower moving eras of the past. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and not avoided by vapid references to traditional values prevalent in times that adjustment lag was so much less of an issue.

How do we justify the idea that only death ends marriage, when there is no actual death or proof of actual death--only the legal presumption of death?

Do legal presumptions therefore dictate morality?

We have already changed the concept of enduring marriage--and I use that term 'enduring' advisedly here, in both its meanings--by introducing diverse legal grounds for divorce--different in different jurisdictions, reflecting the fact that marriage is not a universally immutable institution, but subject to changes that reflect the unique state of affairs in any particular jurisdiction. Why should two people have to continue to endure marriage when the relationship is clearly no longer desired, nor beneficial to anyone? 

If some changing social moral values and customs (and mores simply mean customs in Latin) can be reflected in law and regulation, changing the presumption that marriage is to last forever--or at least until someone actually dies, then why can't we also change other presumptions, such as the presumption that marriage must be between two members of the same race, same religion but of different gender? We already changed the first two of this triplet of categories. It is time to do the same for that third category of gender.

It looks like California will follow where Massachusetts has already led. 

In both Islamic and Jewish law marriage is a contract--that is a very functional concept we ought to adopt and adapt to our modern circumstances in which contracts are within the power of the parties to draft anyway they see fit--within certain reasonable boundaries society may still impose to protect public safety. Check out these links:

Jewish views of marriage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia- Aug 6

The ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) has become another feature of Jewish marriages.

Islamic marriage contract - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Sunni Islam, a marriage contract must have two male witnesses

Why not allow the terms of such a marital contract to reflect the wishes and expectations of the parties--and then hold them accountable to the terms they agreed on? Christians (or members of any other ideologies) could still stick with their special ideas of what kind of marriage is right for them, but without imposing these terms on those who do not share their particular ideology.

Well, I went out on a limb again, as usual and now must respond to the query

what does this have to do with law and regulation, if anything?

Awright, let me give it a try--the idea of marriage is a great concept, some might even  call it a universal, sacred law regarding relationships, but how it is supposed to function ought to be understood as a matter for more time, place and circumstance specific regulation.

The core of the marital relationship needs to be mutual agreement and trust, reliability, support, accountability and especially friendship, sincerity, kindness, compassion and love--not false pretexts, hypocrisy and deceipt--but the precise way marital contracts function need not be universal in nature, nor dictated by church or state, but ought to be allowed to vary with the circumstances of time place and even in accordance with individual mutual preferences--within limits respecting public safety.

If anyone needs examples from the historical record on diversity in the  nature and functionality of marriage, I would be glad to provide those,  for it would be like getting samples of sand from a beach.

The institution of marriage is almost as ancient as the institutions of slavery, prostitution and religion--all of which were intimately intertwined in most human societies everywhere and at all times.

Even today, they remain very much connected around the globe. You cannot change one without affecting the others. Evolution does not happen in a vacuum--it always has repercussions across the board.

Changes in natural as well as social ecology always are interactive.

Moreover--pace Pape!--there are no such things as immutable institutions--nor ought there to be such immutability. Dynamic stability, yes, but no dead and motionless immutability--not in this world of manifestation, in the illusory play of energies.

But let's go on to 'law and regulation' in the brain--although I can't say too much on that score, for I am no expert and the subject is still very much in its early stages of research. I just happened to catch a lecture on the matter and I can't even remember exactly when or where, probably on the UCTV Channel 75, but I'm not sure. In any event, here's a link:

 Brain's White Matter: More 'Talkative' Than Once Thought 

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2007) — Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered to their surprise that nerves in the mammalian brain's white matter do more than just ferry information between different brain regions, but in fact process information the way gray matter cells do.

NEUROSCIENCE: Crime, Culpability, and the Adolescent Brain 

Myelination: An Overlooked Mechanism of Synaptic Plasticity?.

Subacute Brain Atrophy After Radiation Therapy for Malignant Brain Tumor  Abstract

Brain atrophy with mental and neurologic deterioration developing a few months after radiation therapy in patients without residual or recurrent brain tumors has been recognized. Two illustrative case reports of this pathologic entity are presented. Six autopsy cases with this entity including the two cases were reviewed neurologically, radiographically, and histopathologically. All patients presented progressive disturbances of mental status and consciousness, akinesia, and tremor-like involuntary movement. Computerized tomography (CT) demonstrated marked enlargement of the ventricles, moderate widening of the cortical sulci, and a moderately attenuated CT number for the white matter in all six patients. Four of the six patients had CSF drainage (ventriculoperitoneal shunt or continuous lumbar drainage), however, none of them improved. Histologic examination demonstrated swelling and loss of the myelin sheath in the white matter in all patients, and reactive astrocytosis in three of the six patients. Neither prominent neuronal loss in the cerebral cortex or basal ganglia, nor axonal loss in the white matter was generally identified. The blood vessels of the cerebral cortex and white matter were normal. Ependymal layer and the surrounding brain tissue were normal in all patients. These findings suggested that this pathologic condition results from demyelination secondary to direct neurotoxic effect of irradiation. The authors' previous report was reviewed and the differential diagnoses, the risk factors for this pathologic entity, and the indication for radiation therapy in aged patients with a malignant brain tumor are discussed.

In vivo investigation of white matter pathology in schizophrenia with magnetisation transfer imaging

CONCLUSIONS---Subtle white matter pathology, most likely related to myelin and axonal abnormalities, can be detected in the temporal lobes in schizophrenic patients. MTI may be a useful tool in investigating the white matter in schizophrenia.

I am providing the above links and quotiations just to give you an idea of the scope and significance of current research that's going on into the functions of myelin, also known as the white matter in the brain as distinguished from the more familiar gray matter. It used to be thought that white matter was primarily a form of insulation and a substance in which the nerves could safely conduct information from and to various regions of the gray matter and to other organs of the body. A kind of neutral medium, in other words. At least that was my understanding of what myelin was, based on my limited layman's information.

Myelin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Myelin is an electrically-insulating dielectric phospholipid layer that surrounds only the axons of many neurons. It is an outgrowth glial cell: Schwann cells supply the myelin for peripheral neurons, whereas oligodendrocytes supply it to those of the central nervous system. Myelin is considered a defining characteristic of the (gnathostome) vertebrates, but it has also arisen by parallel evolution in some invertebrates.[1] Myelin was discovered in 1878 by Louis-Antoine Ranvier.

What is Myelin?

Nerves are like an electrical wire. Current (the message) must be conducted along a path (the nerve) to successfully get from point A to point B (the brain to a fingertip). The electrical current must travel without being corrupted, scrambled, diverted from the proper path, or leaking energy. Therefore, myelin is like the layer of plastic insulation surrounding an interior wire, which is the nerve. Additionally, myelin speeds the conduction, so it's also analogous to a secondary coating on the wire that reduces the resistance facing an electrical current. The interior wire represents the series of axons and nerve cells that relay the electrical impulse.

But now it appears that a lot more is going on in the white matter and researchers are busily trying to find out just exactly how important it is and in what ways. So again, I draw a comparison here, based on right brain intuition that the relationship between gray matter and white matter may well be similar to what I call law and regulation.   

Remember that my general aim is to investigate the nature of relationships in various contexts.

Thus we must never underestimate the importance of what seems to be just a supportive role, or even merely junk, as people used to think of most of the genes in our DNA, but which instead turns out to be of vital functional importance.

One could draw the comparison further into the field of social science, and understand that the functioning of a society is impossible without the health and well being of ordinary people, the grass roots,  that do the lesser tasks in a less visible and less spectacular manner than those of the big wigs of society. We are at a time when that relationship is once again endangered and the ordinary people seem to loose out in favor of the very rich and powerful.

We have seen that movie before, haven't we?

Last time I checked the rich and famous eventually lost their heads.

They seem to be loosing their mind as we speak

Their heads may follow

One can also draw the comparison further into the field of cosmology and recognize that the matter and energy which we are familiar with is but a small portion of what is actually there in the cosmos--and that we know barely anything about the socalled dark energy and dark matter except that these are also of vital importance to the functioning of the entire cosmos and of our own perceived manifest reality.

It may well be that these comparisons are

faulty

but I am going on my own sense of intuition that

they are not

It is so easy for the experts in any paricular field to get lost in the particulars and minutiae of their specializations, without ever making the larger connections that bind and maintain us all into a single  organic whole, from the very small scale to the very large scale. We can work out the details later and make corrections as we go, but we must never loose our sense of adventure and always be willing to take the risk that we might be wrong. That's the only way we might eventually find out how to be right. Constant trial and error, checking up on the facts, then correcting our theories and assumptions and venturing out further.

Now let's move on to the cosmos, that kahsmohs or kaasmuis, Carl Sagan talked about. I always loved to watch his shows--what a wonderful teacher he was! Today we have a few successors to Sagan who also are doing a fine job: Neil Degrasse (Deogratia, Thankgod, Goddank) Tyson, for instance. He was the guy who put Pluto back in the doghouse of Kuiper Belt Objects where it belongs, after having paraded as an actual planet for decades.

That took some chutzpah, but Neil Goddank stuck to his guns even though it was not popular with the Kindergarten crowd--from which he apparently got all kinds of pleadings to change his mind. Pluto was almost as popular as Santa Claus and the Tooth Faerie. But the trooth must prevail, painful as it maybe to the minds of the young and sensitive. Besides, really, do you think a dog like Pluto gives a flying saucer about what we mere earthlings classify it as? I kind of doubt it. After all this live dog was named after an evil god of the underworld. So who are we to call it names or put it in its place?

Live Dog, Evil God, Planet or simple Kuiper Belt Object, it is what it is, as my one time wife Nina used to say (possibly referring to me)

Anyway, back to more cosmic matters. I saw a lecture on anthropogeny by Ajit Varki --Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine Co-Director, Glycobiology Research and Training Center Co-Director, UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training--
on the UCTV cable channel. See: UCTV Shopping Cart

Ajit Varki is Co-Director of the newly established UCSD / Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, multidisciplinary approach to understanding human origins, which involves scientists from across San Diego and all over the world. Here he explores the genetic approach to understanding human disease, in the light of genetic changes that occurred during our evolutionary history. 

Even though I can only remember his exotic name by the mnemonic Aai 't varken  (Dutch for: stroke the pig) he truly is a remarkable scientist, starting the lecture with a superb power point presentation summarizing developments from the Big Bang, Grand Boum or Oerknal down to our day. Here is a video I found that may give you an idea of the genius of this man:

The Diversity of Development - The Genetics of Primate Evolution: A Rosetta Stone for Understanding Human Disease
(#13548; 50 minutes; 5/21/2008)
Ajit Varki is Co-Director of the newly established UCSD / Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, multidisciplinary approach to understanding human origins, which involves scientists from across San Diego and all over the world. Here he explores the genetic approach to understanding human disease, in the light of genetic changes that occurred during our evolutionary history.
 

I was especially impressed with his description of the glucose forests that cover the surface of each and every one of our cells. I had no idea we had entire Amazon jungles on the surface of each of our cells. Really Facsinating! See:  Varki Lab home page

The interests of the Varki lab are focused on a family of sugars called the sialic acids, and their roles in biology, evolution and disease. Sialic acids are found at the outermost position on the glycan chains of all vertebrate cell surfaces and glycoproteins, and the highest levels are found in the nervous system. Currently active projects are relevant to the roles of sialic acids in microbial infection; the regulation of the immune response; the progression of cancer; and unique aspects of human evolution. We are particularly intrigued about finding multiple differences in sialic acid biology between humans and our closest evolutionary cousins, the great apes. These differences are a signature of the events that occurred during the last few million years of human evolution, and may be relevant to understanding aspects of the current human condition, both in health and disease. Interest is also directed towards the potential impact of the uniquely human sialic acid profile on the brain. These specific research directions have also lead to a broader interest in explaining the origins and workings of the human phenomenon.
 
On a molecular level, the difference between Neu5Gc and Neu5Ac is tiny -- a single added oxygen atom perched on one arm distinguishes one from the other (see graphic). But on a biological level, the difference could be enormous. "We thought if monkeys and all of our closest relatives have Neu5Gc and humans don't, then there must be a molecular basis for that," Varki says. He subsequently found it in an enzyme that converts Neu5Ac to Neu5Gc, but which is disabled by mutation in humans.

OOPS!

I had a lot more on this topic, but I seem to have gotten screwed by a nasty virus that proclaimed me a winner in some once-a-day promotional something-or-other and when I tried to eliminate it by clicking on the X  it would not leave me alone--and I lost most of what I had just been writing. It is so depressing I am going home to eat a lot of chocolat.

Besides I am tired now and want to watch the Olympics for a while.

Don't you love that Michael Phelps--what a fine looking dude. I hope he gets his eight gold medals. His mom deserves it too.

Michael Phelps wins third gold medal, sets record in 200-meter ...

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps claims victory after the men's 200m freestyle swimming final at the National Aquatics Centre in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Phelps broke the world record with a time of 1 minute 42.96 seconds.

The win gave Phelps nine gold medals for his Olympic career, tying him with such U.S. icons as Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis. It also set him up for Wednesday morning's double-barrel shot at the 200m butterfly gold and the men's 4 x 200 freestyle relay gold. Two more victories and Phelps' status as the greatest, most successful Olympian would be sealed. 

Michael Phelps - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Vanderkaay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Olympics - Athlete - Yahoo! Sports

US gold medalist Michael Phelps (R) and US bronze medalist Peter Vanderkaay

I am especially proud of these guys because they are both from the University of Michigan, one of my almae matres--who says a guy can't have two foster mothers?

In conclusion of this Bouillabaisse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, of a journal entry, I just wanted to add something I came accross on the news that might have escaped other viewers, but which is truly worthy of everyone's attention, for it may eventually lead to a complete cure for HIV/AIDS:

Pathologists Believe They Have Pinpointed Achilles Heel Of HIV

HOUSTON—(July 3, 2008)—Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) researchers at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston believe they have uncovered the Achilles heel in the armor of the virus that continues to kill millions.

The weak spot is hidden in the HIV envelope protein gp120. This protein is essential for HIV attachment to host cells, which initiate infection and eventually lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS.  Normally the body’s immune defenses can ward off viruses by making proteins called antibodies that bind the virus. However, HIV is a constantly changing and mutating virus, and the antibodies produced after infection do not control disease progression to AIDS. For the same reason, no HIV preventative vaccine that stimulates production of protective antibodies is available.  

The Achilles heel, a tiny stretch of amino acids numbered 421-433 on gp120, is now under study as a target for therapeutic intervention. Sudhir Paul, Ph.D., pathology professor in the UT Medical School, said, “Unlike the changeable regions of its envelope, HIV needs at least one region that must remain constant to attach to cells. If this region changes, HIV cannot infect cells. Equally important, HIV does not want this constant region to provoke the body’s defense system. So, HIV uses the same constant cellular attachment site to silence B lymphocytes - the antibody producing cells. The result is that the body is fooled into making abundant antibodies to the changeable regions of HIV but not to its cellular attachment site. Immunologists call such regions superantigens. HIV’s cleverness is unmatched. No other virus uses this trick to evade the body’s defenses.”

Here is a video on the topic: Achilles heel of the HIV virus? : The Daou Report

Essentially, what I understand is that there is only one spot on the HIV virus that is constant, that does not mutate in response to changing cirumstances--and that is exactly it's weak spot, its Achilles heel, for scientists can now focus in on that spot and design some molecular mechanism which will attack the virus in such a way that the virus will be left defenseless, which would be good for me and millions of other people with HIV-AIDS.

Houston doctors say they may have found a way to destroy HIV ...

“We have found an innovative way to kill the virus by finding this small region of HIV that is unchangeable,” Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said.

Hmmm. Even at the cellular level, a lack of ability to adapt to evolutionary changes appears to be a fatal flaw. Maybe society as a whole could take that lesson home.

This entree would not be complete however without at least also mentioning a rival cure:

Fars News Agency :: Iran Introduces AIDS Cure

Iran Introduces AIDS Cure

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- After 7 long years of arduous work, Iranian scientists here on Saturday introduced a herbal medicine which cures Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

However, this claim seems a bit over the top after reading the following:

The Raw Story | Iran claims found herbal cure for AIDS ...

"The herbal-based medication, called IMOD, serves to control the AIDS virus and increases the body's immunity," Baqeri Lankarani was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA. "It is not a medication to kill the virus, it rather can be used besides other anti-retroviral drugs," Baqeri Lankarani said on state radio.

And now my cook-a-low fish-dish is truly done.