FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from

Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

My Photo
Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Should Steven Hatfill Get the Nobel Peace Prize?

I have just read this article on Steven Hatfill, the man originally accused of the anthrax attacks in the wake of September 11.

This is an enraging, frustrating article to be sure, highlighting once again that cheesy cloak-and-dagger speculation is no match for good old fashioned gumshoe work in uncovering the facts. I was literally in tears reading how a strapping, enthusiastic, and eccentric scientist was reduced to an unemployed, disheartened shadow of himself, watching himself be accused on TV while federal agents tailed his every move.

However, midway through the article changes. We are introduced to an American who was always a bit "off," a bit of a weirdo, a weight-lifting, tobacco-chewing, rare-steak-eating, superphysician novelist who dressed in black (I like him already), who anguished over having to administer experimental drugs to animals, who tended the ailments of indigenous peoples, and who is determined to revolutionize medical labs.

I remember the FBI sweep of his apartment, and the press conference that Hatfill's attorney gave. "Guilty or not," I thought, "he is presumed innocent, and this is a travestry." Of course, I had no way of forming an opinion about Hatfill's guilt or innocence, but if we Americans rush to judgment, we may as well let the terrorists win and go back to being a colony of Great Britain.

However, I did not become convinced that Steven Hatfill is a deserving candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize merely because he fought injustice and won exoneration. Nor do I think it because his fight was also on behalf of all of us, Americans who must cherish and uphold due process, and who must insist that journalists act like investigators instead of the government lapdogs that they have become. This is what convinced me that Steven Hatfill should at least be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize:

When he had had enough, when he was done with watching the television in his girlfriend's home (having lost his own home, any job prospects, and his health insurance), when he was done drinking a little too much, eating too much chocolate (at least he has good taste!), and feeling sorry for himself, Steven Hatfill dug out his old textbooks and began studying again, and then signed up to be part of the relief effort in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. Healing people helped him to heal himself.

He also had an epiphany: build mobile labs to be able to penetrate the remote areas of the earth, where the plants and fungi, out of which antibiotics are made, are found! The FBI tailed him to the hobby shop and back, after which Hatfill began designing his vision in modeling clay.

For Hatfill, rebuilding remains painful and slow. He enters post offices only if he absolutely must, careful to show his face to surveillance cameras so that he can’t be accused of mailing letters surreptitiously. He tries to document his whereabouts at all times, in case he should ever need an alibi. He is permanently damaged, Hatfill says. Yet he still professes to love America. “My country didn’t do this to me,” he is quick to point out. “A bloated, incompetent bureaucracy and a broken press did. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I didn’t still love my country.”

Much of Hatfill’s time these days is devoted to teaching life-saving medical techniques to military personnel bound for combat. They are his “band of brothers,” and the hours he spends with them, Hatfill says, are among his happiest. He also serves as an adjunct associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University.

Then there is his boat.

Hatfill has committed $1.5 million to building his floating genetic laboratory, a futuristic-looking vessel replete with a helicopter, an operating room to treat rural indigenous peoples, and a Cordon Bleu–trained chef. Hatfill intends to assemble a scientific team and cruise the Amazon for undiscovered or little-known plants and animals. From these organisms, he hopes to develop new medications for leukemia, and for tuberculosis and other diseases that have been growing increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. Any useful treatments, he says, will be licensed to pharmaceutical companies on the condition that developing nations receive them at cost. Hatfill hopes to christen the boat within two years. Scientists at USAMRIID, where the FBI once suspected him of stealing anthrax, have expressed tentative interest in helping him mount his expedition.

Throughout it all, one gets the sense of a man who really, really loves his country and what he does, and whose greatest desire is to help others. He is bitter toward the government bureaucracy, but not the people of the United States who comprise the true government. His suffering was unimaginable, and yet now he's going to go on safari in his super-boat for more medical cures. He more resembles Superman temporarily weakened by Kryptonite, or Indiana Jones, than a victim of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy. I can hardly believe that someone like this exists! It is a testament to how resilient the human conscience, and our capacity for creativity, really is.

It is time that journalists quit merely reporting Hatfill's lawsuits for libel, and start talking about what this extraordinary man has done and is doing. I know what reading this article did for me. It scared me and made me angry, but it also filled me with gratitude that there are people out there willing to stand up for our rights, and to reclaim their passion despite what the entire world thinks of them. Isn't that what the Nobel Peace Prize represents?

Thank you, Steven Hatfill. I doubted your guilt and applauded your exoneration, but now you are a hero in my eyes.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blogging the Writing of the Peer-Reviewed Paper, Part 5

Good news and bad news at the Triumvirate.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pronatalist Fanatics Dump a "Motherless" Constitution

UPDATED: Here an extraordinary article on how "child-centered" culture creates angry children who act out, whereas adults who keep their children near but focus on adult things raise happy, respectful, cooperative children.

Maternity is not prophesy.

SECOND UPDATE: In a rational counterpoint to Michael Roston, a man who, without irony, presumes to dictate which women can speak for other women, Keli Goff at the Huffington Post has a much more sensible take on the "duty" of a Supreme Court candidate to procreate. Maybe it's due to the fact that she is a woman, Mr. Roston, and can speak for other women better than you can? What do you think about that, Mr. Roston? Hmmmmm?
If you're a woman and don't have kids, you don't deserve to be on the Supreme Court.

I'm speechless. I'm actually speechless. I'll just let this piece of work blogger speak for himself:

To me, if a woman doesn’t have a child, she has only an abstract ability to pass judgment on issues where motherhood is concerned.

If I may ask, do Catholic or Orthodox priests have only "an abstract ability to pass judgment on issues where motherhood is concerned"?

Women with the concrete knowledge of the decision-making that comes with motherhood simply know better – ‘A mother knows best’ as we so often say.

Well, a woman who consciously makes the decision that she would not be a good mother - and many childfree women come to that conclusion - are themselves demonstrating "concrete knowledge of the decision-making that comes with motherhood." And I'm sorry, I have a better quote for Mr. Michael "Mangina" Roston:

I wash the dishes, rush the older children off to school, dash out in the yard to cultivate the chrysanthemums, run back in to make a phone call about a committee meeting, help the youngest child build a blockhouse . . . then scamper down to the washing machines where my thrice-weekly laundry includes enough clothes to keep a primitive village going for an entire year. By noon I’m ready for a padded cell. - Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

I swear, we have gone back to the 1950s. Atheists, once a staple of American life, can't run for public office. Even among my educated co-workers, the women did inside chores, and the men did outside chores. I stood out because I actually shoveled the sidewalk. When I go out in shorts and a tank top, I get the stink eye as if I were walking around naked. Everything is so fucking "family-friendly" to the point that people drag their kids into bars and to art openings. ("Now we don't touch the sculptures, do we? We don't - Breahanna and Jusstyn! Breahanna
and Jusstyn! We don't - I'm going to start counting! One... Breahanna and Jusstyn! Don't you want some juice? Oh, we're sorry that they broke it, but you know that they're just children." AAUUGGGH! So leave them home with a sitter!)

American children are interrogated as to "whether you are, or have ever, played doctor" or engaged in sexting activity, and harshly punished if they were. You know that leads to sexual molestation and Satanic rituals, right? The three little girls that Tonya Craft is accused of molesting were "harshly disciplined" for playing doctor. Of course, Craft herself is "not a nice person" anyway because she wears thong underwear, mows the lawn in a tank top and shorts, and once had a same-sex relationship. She must be guilty of something! According to media-whore Wendy Murphy, homosexuality makes an adult a pedophile as well. Yes, she actually said that - I could not believe my ears! What can I say - that's really back to the '50s (as well as back to the Salem witch hunts if you can believe that children "never" lie).

The main hazard at work for a woman is not the glass ceiling - it's the invisible knife in your back (from another woman!). And we must foam-pad the world for the children, who today must never feel any boredom, frustration, or delay in gratification. Even into their twenties, children's helicopter parents are now pestering their university administrators about classes and grades, or their bosses about why Ashlleigh did not get a raise. In our child-centered universe, mothers aggressively try to ram me off the sidewalk with those horrible, double-wide strollers, or try to push in front of me at Caribou Coffee ("I have children."), and not because their children are with them - because they have to hurry because their children are waiting for them at home!

And yes, I am to understand that it is I who is selfish and who lacks empathy. My judgment cannot be trusted because I have never interrupted a civil conversation with "But you don't have any babies at home" and then launched into a lecture about the other person's ignorance - as many mothers have interrupted my conversations to lecture me.

Well, let me tell you something: for all this current pandering to "Motherhood," I still don't see anyone out there willing to pay a living wage for it. Not even Michael Roston. And I don't think that I am anywhere close to a fool. Women today are being sold a bill of goods - the same old "feminine mystique" if you ask me - that if you don't have children, you're "not a woman." If you're a career woman and don't have kids, you should not advance in your career. To which I posit: Mom Jeans and Sarah Palin.

The "motherless" Constitution says nothing about having or not having a "motherless" Supreme Court. Maybe we should, ah, throw the baby out with the bathwater and get rid of the Constitution, too?

(Shimmies to William L. Anderson.)

Labels: , , , , ,