Friday, June 17, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Mad Science is Back!

Crazy week.  The world recoiled in horror, and then the Internet tore itself apart.  I lost my patience pretty quickly, and honestly, if it weren’t for my responsibilities as Information Systems Officer for my class from West Point, I probably would have deactivated my Facebook account.  I can handle the lunatic ramblings of the Twitteratti because for the most part I don’t know those people.  Who cares what a bunch of sports writers and comic book artists and writers think about the news of the day?  No one, really, and that’s fine.  However, I do know the folks on Facebook, and as a result their “arguments” get to me.  Because no one ever learns anything, and also because…  

Who wants to watch their friends argue?
I certainly don’t.
Now, you may say that keeping a column like this is exactly like posting an argument on Facebook, and maybe it is.  The difference, at least in my mind, is that this site is mine, that folks who come here have done so voluntarily to hear what I think.  I’m not twisting anybody’s arm, and--truly--my feelings aren’t hurt if you like me but not my writing.  In the same way that we can be friends but don’t have to work out together in the weight room, we can also be friends, and you can ignore my blog.  It’s okay.  I get that it can be political.  For what it’s worth, I’ve been trying to do less politics of late, but readership has gone down as a result.  So I’m going to need to find a balance in there somewhere--hopefully without coming off too hypocritical.
1. Doctor’s Plan for Full-Body Transplants Raises Doubts Even in Daring China (NY Times)
The idea for a body transplant is the kind of thinking that has experts around the world alarmed at how far China is pushing the ethical and practical limits of science. Such a transplant is impossible, at least for now, according to leading doctors and experts, including some in China, who point to the difficulty of connecting nerves in the spinal cord. Failure would mean the death of the patient.
[The] plan: Remove two heads from two bodies, connect the blood vessels of the body of the deceased donor and the recipient head, insert a metal plate to stabilize the new neck, bathe the spinal cord nerve endings in a gluelike substance to aid regrowth and finally sew up the skin.
A doctor works to perfect the technique for a head transplant.
Dude!  This is some plan.  Cut off two heads and cross attached the living head from the paralyzed body to the working body of a dead person!  Wow.
Unethical?  Meh.  
They’re also breeding HIV resistant embryos and starting to develop ways to do genetic screening for such important factors as looks and skin coloring.  Holy crap!!!
EstoniaLatviaLithuania and Poland, four of NATO's members that feel most threatened by Russia, will each be reinforced by "a robust multinational battalion," Stoltenberg told a news conference.
This works out to be something like 4,000 troops.  It’s hard to believe that’s enough to make a real difference on the ground, especially when the force itself comes from a “multinational” source, but I suppose it’s a start.  That’s something, at least.
3.  Friday Hair Metal: Dream Police

Senator Chris Murphy of CT.
The Connecticut senator, who had been a leading gun-control advocate in the Senate since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, took to the floor at 11:21 a.m. Wednesday to draw attention to the Democrats’ latest push to crack down on firearms laws. But it was a caucus-wide effort — 38 other Senate Democrats joined Murphy in the filibuster that lasted 14 hours and 50 minutes, with a handful of lawmakers, including Booker and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), standing with Murphy for hours on end…
The day began… when Murphy launched a talking filibuster on the Senate floor — which was quickly joined by fellow Democrats — in an effort to pressure Republicans to accept legislation that would deny suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms and require universal background checks.
Like the deployment to the NATO Baltic States, this senate action can best be understood as the start of something that remains very much a work in progress.  While we theoretically got an agreement to hold a vote on some—very minor—gun control legislation, there hasn’t yet been a formal agreement on what specifically that vote will entail, nor is any of this likely to keep guns out of the hands of, well, anyone.
The problem is at once simple and profound.  Americans can legally sympathize with terrorists and even—legally—speak out on their behalf.  Doing so may land them on a “watch list”, but this will in no way curtail their rights, and it’s amazingly easy to progress to the point of building an arsenal.  Which is still neither illegal nor actionable in any way by law enforcement under our current (lack of) regulation.  As it is now, a crime hasn’t actually been committed until the shooting starts, and then it’s too late.  
For what it’s worth, the “good guy with a gun theory” was conclusively disproven this past weekend.  Pulse in Orlando had an armed police officer on the premise, and that officer exchanged fire with the assailant.  This perhaps limited the tragedy, but it certainly didn’t prevent it.  In the end, fifty people died in the worst shooting in U.S. history.
I personally hope that Murphy’s efforts lead to some kind of common sense gun reform.  I hope as well that there is some room for compromise on an issue that affects everyone in increasingly profound ways.  I don’t know that I believe it, though.  Friends of mine who believe in gun rights believe with incredible passion.  Their most common response is an utter refusal to even discuss the issue, and that’s among people that I like, who I think are otherwise very reasonable.  As an example, I retweeted something from @ChrisMurphyCT yesterday during the filibuster and lost three followers in under a minute!  That’s crazy.  

There’s just no middle ground at all.
It’s this issue in particular that makes me despair for America, but what can you do?  At least in Connecticut we have a few sensible gun laws.  I believe that they help, but they are manifestly far from perfect.  Still, I am more and more pleased and grateful for the life I have the chance to live here in the Granite State.
If there's hope it's in the youth of this program. Last year, the Black Knights saw 9 true freshmen combined to make 39 starts which is just an astounding number even for a military academy. It appears there's been a total re-set by Monken as he tries to build the program in his image but it won't be easy. Although Army recruits enormous-sized classes they recently announced 16 players--both from the 2016 class and USMAPS--will not be attending West Point.
Stuff like that makes rebuilding that much more difficult.
Not a bad write-up on Army’s game against Notre Dame.  The guys at One Foot Down also did a write up of the Army’s Offense and Defense.  Man, they do not like our defense.  I can see why they feel that way but continue to believe that this secondary might surprise.
That’s what I want to believe, anyway.

That's all I've got, folks.  Enjoy the weekend! 

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