May 21 2009

Choosing death: should Daniel Hauser be allowed to die?

Many of you out there have probably heard about the case of Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old who was recently ordered to receive chemotherapy for his cancer, instead of sticking to “alternative” treatments like a special diet, vitamins, and ionized water. At the moment of this writing, he and his mother are on the run to avoid the chemo and deal with the cancer their own way. (Look at me! I’m writing something that’s actually current! This must be what being a journalist feels like!)

I could focus on criticizing their choice of treatment, but I’m not going to (beyond this paragraph). It should be obvious to most of us that this family has bought into some crazy, dangerous nonsense. This is a perfect example of why “alternative medicine” is dangerous: not because most of it is completely worthless, but because it causes people to forego real, scientifically-proven medical treatments.

The bigger issue here is whether it’s ok for the government to step in and choose someone’s medical treatment, and how far we as a society should allow someone’s faith and beliefs to go, and whether society as a whole has any say at all. Essentially, the question is: should we let Daniel Hauser die?

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May 14 2009

Recommended Podcasts

I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts while at my computer (especially while playing WoW) and also on my MP3 player in the car, and when out for a walk, and whenever I have the time. I listen to a LOT of podcasts, and I’m always looking for more. Here are my favorites, and if you know of any others that I’d probably like, please post a link.

What the hell is a podcast?

It’s like radio, but on a computer. Most podcasts are published via an RSS feed that links to the files on the podcaster’s server. You can just download them manually if you want, but there are programs out there that will let you subscribe to the podcast feed and automatically download new episodes when they become available. The program I use is MediaMonkey, which is probably the greatest audio program ever. Other people use iTunes, though I don’t know why. I think WinAmp can handle podcasts too, and I’m sure there are others. Anyway, on with the show.

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May 13 2009

Conflicted feelings about Star Trek

Spock would be cool in a 70's-style cop drama

I’m going to talk about the new Star Trek movie. I will be using spoilers throughout. So go see it if you haven’t already, then come back and read this.

I saw the new Star Trek movie last night, and I thought it was pretty good. It was great to see so many familiar people and places, and I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing new adventures in this amazing future that Roddenberry created. However, despite how much I enjoyed it, I’m still conflicted.

First, let’s look back a couple years. When I first heard that they were going to do another Star Trek movie I was happy but wary. I assumed that it probably wouldn’t be another Next Gen movie, since everyone was aging too much, and they killed my favorite character in the previous one (and it was pretty ridiculous that they kept having to toss Worf in there somehow when he should’ve been on DS9 or Qo’noS). Probably wouldn’t be about the DS9 or VOY crews either, since both of those shows had pretty definite endings that split up the crews…and making a movie of either would probably be a bad move from a business standpoint anyway.

I was hoping that the new movie would have a new ship and a new crew, and take place after all the other movies and shows, and maybe have a new villain or some other big threat to deal with, since the Federation didn’t have too many big threats to deal with anymore: the Klingons were allies, the Cardassians were crushed in the Dominion war, the Dominion was crushed in the Dominion war, the Borg were…just not a threat anymore…hell, even the Romulans were much less angry than they were before (and are destroyed just moments before this new movie starts). At that point, they needed an interesting new challenge to face, and an interesting new bunch of characters to face it.

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