Sunday, May 02, 2010

Articles of Interest April 30 and May 1

Mind Over Meds
In this article from last week's New York TImes Magazine, the author, a psychiatrist, presents his argument for the reintegration of actual psychotherapy in his psychiatric practice.  He argues, I believe correctly, that many tend to diagnose based on a set of assumed problems without exploring the basis for the problems.  What ends up happening is you have many people on psychiatric meds who would be better off with therapy, but don't receive the care and compassion needed to work through the problems that have presented. 

Living Without Stevens: How will the Supreme Court behave when he’s gone?
This article presents an interesting analysis of the challenges faced with replacing a justice on the supreme court.  If the goal is some sort of balance, the problem lies in where one draws the line.  As is clear from this piece, not all judges consistently rule according to "party" lines.  Of course, judges should be more conscious of judicial decisions without concern for whether it is liberal or conservative; instead, a justice on the supreme court needs to render decisions based on their "objective" read of the law. 

The Bomb Squad: The only thing worse than a U.S. attack on Iran would be an Israeli one.
This article provides one perspective on the ramifications of a US attack on Iran as opposed to an Israeli attack.  The author is not advocating for any attack on Iran, but feels with the US military might, both in number and in type of weaponry, that it would be a more reasonable expectation that Iran nuclear facilities would be crippled. 

Newark archbishop questions plan for Seton Hall University gay marriage class
It is interesting to see the question of inquiry being debated in a Catholic University.  I wonder if the same class would be considered at Yeshiva University or would the same challenge apply.  My hunch would be the question would never be discussed.

Friday, April 30, 2010

YItzchak Adlerstein and the RCA

In a recent piece by Yitzchak Adlerstein at Cross Currents, he makes the point that the RCA's new decision about not accepting women's ordination has officially made them almost like the Agudah. He states that the the Agudahness of the RCA is in how they came to the decision to deny women's ordination as opposed to the decision itself.  It seems the primary reason for not allowing ordination is again the issue of, it looks like Conservative Judaism.  This argument has been used in the past 10 years regarding the debate about women receiving Aliyot in synagogue (see Mendel Shapiro and the response by Rav Yehuda Henkin in the Edah Journal and the more recent rehashing of the debate by Rabbi Riskin in 2008).  Anyway, I think we are beginning to see the true break between RCA Centrist Orthodoxy and something which would be defined as "Modern Orthodoxy."  I am not sure what the ramifications of a decision like this would be.  Would women now have to choose whether to be ordained or just learned with some sort of certification?  Perhaps we really are just arguing about the semantics of calling a woman a rabbi as opposed to something like Yoetzet Halacha? 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Articles of interest April 28 and 29

New health care law traps some in pricey state plans
I guess this means health care reform isn't for everyone.  Surprise, surprise.  I would have thought the federal government's goal was to lower health care cost, even retroactively for people who need it.  I guess not.  In the end, it is all about making bottom line numbers, and clearly government health care specifically for pre-existing conditions is an expensive endeavor. 

Justices allow cross on public land in California
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a decision that would have removed a cross from public land.  An interesting case of the question of separation of church and state.  See the earlier coverage on this case: Justices appear divided over cross on park land

Consumers' tastes make it difficult to dash salt from diets
The latest health crusade is the cutting of salt from our diets.  The goal is to seemingly reduce our risk of hypertension.  If you read the article carefully, you will notice that salt reduction in fact might not reduce risk of hypertension/blood pressure at all.  I find we are sometimes to self conscious of our diets.  I do agree with moderation, but moderation should come from personal choice, not more government mandates.

Sen. Sessions Warns Obama on Supreme Court Pick

The argument is presented that people are afraid the Supreme Court pick to replace John Paul Stevens will be someone who is less concerned about the precedents in the legal system and more on the impact a decision would have on American people. I am not sure I completely understand the distinction between the two categories, as a judge should take into account the particular case, with precedents set, and then make an informed decision. This would possibly entail ruling differently due to a given situation.

Why I Love Barack Obama
Great Op-Ed about how people in Israel can find the good in Obama being president of the US. I think this piece is suggesting that Israeli’s realize again that self-reliance is still the best policy.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Articles of interest April 27, 2010

I think we will try this one again as a means of getting back into writing online. 

Survey: 72% of Millennials 'more spiritual than religious'
This articles presents findings from a recent survey indicating the 18-29 yr old crowd tends to find themselves more spiritual than religious.  To me, reading this would be further proof of the ending of the latest religious revival in America.  Of note is that spirituality, the non-praxis based faith, still pervades. 

How Our Brains Make Memories
An article about how our mind creates memory, selecting events to create stories.  This is an old problem with narrative descriptions of events by people who lived through the event.

Obama isn't radical. His party is.
Pundit Michael Medved makes an interesting case for the problem, not with the president himself, but the Democratic party.  I think one of the difficulties with our current political culture is the parties.  Both parties, Democrat and Republican, tend to play political games with each other instead of working for the greater good.  Medved's piece is more about the blame game.  Those opposed to Obama need to look more carefully at the fact that the rest of his party is almost as far left as he appears to be.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

articles of interest - Dec. 9

Your Final Wish Isn’t Always Your Doctor’s Command: by Ann Woolner

In the continuing sagas of the power of advance directives, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out saying they will not uphold a person’s wishes if they run counter to Catholic morals. The alternative is to move the person to a non-Catholic hospital. I think this issue is very fascinating from an ethical standpoint, for there are two ethical systems coming into conflict. All major religions run into this potential problem, namely when to follow the religious ethic over the ethics of the country. The U.S. is heavily into autonomy. Religion tends to limit autonomy. At the same time, it has been argued that the religious person chooses to limit his/her autonomy by becoming a member of the religion. In this situation, the issue is whether tube feeding is obligatory as nutrition is a basic need of humanity. I think that their choice might also boil down to the fight on human value. Sometimes we too easily argue “so and so has no quality of life,” arguing in a sense that there is no value to the person’s continued existence.

DHS takes action in bungled posting of airport security secrets By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson
All I can is oops. I guess homeland security doesn’t worry about our security so much. This is very scary.

Copenhagen's political science by Sarah Palin

Those of you following Climategate will find this editorial refreshing. Science is not above politics. For those interested in the subject of the subjectivity of science will want to read Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. As many people have called for, with the latest in the false findings, Copenhagen needs to be boycotted. It begins to appear as though the Copenhagen talks are less about “climate control” than all out redistributing wealth from the wealthy countries to those who would be unable to support climate change regulations.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

articles of interest - Dec 7

Petraeus: Obama Said Surge Worked

Really? So now the surge worked? When he was running for President, the tone was different. He must have been wearing shaded glasses until now.

U.S. sees homegrown Muslim extremism as rising threat: this may have been the most dangerous year since 9/11, anti-terrorism experts say By Sebastian Rotella

The fifth column begins to rise. This is scary though not completely unexpected.

Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO: Obamacare Will Have “Catastrophic Effects” on Health-Care Safety-Net

Health Care Reform will lead to more Americans relying on government help instead of less. I see now how we are “cutting” our deficit. Oh wait, Obama and the government aren’t going to lower taxes and cut government spending. Surprise, Surprise!

Pearl Harbor mini-submarine mystery solved? Researchers think they have found the remains of a Japanese mini-submarine that probably fired on U.S. battleships on Dec. 7, 1941.

This is a fascinating historical piece. The battleships were not sunk merely by air strikes.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Rosh HaShanah L'Chasidut

Today is the 19th day of Kislev. In the Hasidic world, many dynasties celebrate this day as their new year. I am particularly aware of Chabad celebrating this day. In Chabad tradition, today begins the yearly study of Tanya of the Alter Rebbe, the first Chabad Rebbe.


Articles of interest - Dec. 6

The Ph.D. Problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal by Louis Menand

In an interesting study which seemingly summarizes current thinking, professor Menand discusses the potential need to reconfigure the PhD academic experience with regard to end goal. If more students could potentially finish in less time, plus find meaningful work in areas related to the degree, it might be a means to encourage those on the fence of attempting graduate work to pursue the higher level, post college study. Of course, one could claim that the need to revamp PhD programs also relates to the change in education in undergraduate settings. For many areas of study, an undergraduate education is clearly inadequate. Some of this I would argue is related to the lessening of importance of the high school diploma. To get many jobs today, a BA/BS is the minimum one needs.

A broader definition of healthcare By Kim Geiger and Tom Hamburger

The new health care plan is tempting to increase insurance reimbursements for complimentary alternative therapies. The article poses that this would potentially negate the said goal of health care reform which is to cut spending on non-proven treatments. I guess this is further evidence that the goal of the health care reform is not to actually reform health care but to pander to lobbyists and other supporters.

The '00s: Goodbye (at Last) to the Decade from Hell by Andy Serwer
For those who accept the false notion that decades begin with 0 and end with 9, then yes, we are at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. To just comment on one of my pet peeves, decades begin on the year ...1 and end with ...0, as the 0 is a 10, not a 0. Having said that, I am not sure I would say this was one of the worst decade. Many disasters and downturns don't always qualify time periods as such. Sure, we faced many difficult events, but what decade hasn't seen bad and good. Why be such doomsayers? I guess read the article and you be the judge. I still think one can argue that the 1930s were much worse (and lets hope that remains such).

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