wood’s stone city, ethics and consequences, women’s health in north dakota

Stone City, Iowa,1930 by Grant Wood (American, 1891–1942)

Stone City, Iowa,1930 (oil on wood panel) by Grant Wood (American, 1891–1942). Courtesy the Joslyn Museum. This is their write-up on this painting,

Stone City, Iowa was Wood’s first major landscape, painted in the same year as his now famous American Gothic. At the height of his style, Stone City is also the epitome of the dialogue about change that was often threaded through Wood’s traditional subjects. Understood in this tranquil, idealized scene of life in harmony with nature was the knowledge that Stone City itself reflected the transitions brought about in a rural community by industrialization. Located on the Wapsipinicon River twenty-six miles from Cedar Rapids, Stone City was a boomtown gone bust: built on the success of its limestone quarries and laid to rest by the development of Portland cement. The land, Wood seems to suggest, has gone back to a purer purpose of grazing animals and growing crops. Wood’s interest in the village continued, and it became the site of a summer artist’s colony which he ran from 1932 to 1933.

Wood is best known for his 1930 painting American Gothic. Which might be one of the most commercially co-opted paintings in history.

I’m a consequentialist. Many people are and just do not put a label on it. Consequentialism is  – at least the brand worth having – the justified belief that acts have consequences. Not supernatural, weird consequences, but frequently natural consequences. Say you or someone you depend on is injured by someone else. That has economic consequences in addition to the existential and psychological issues. It gets far more complicated than that. Consequentialism ethics has a long history. Like many ethical systems it can have variations that go way off track and adherents that take it to illogical extremes. Social Democracy has a very good Cliff Notes version and economics, Thoughts on a Version of Consequentialist Ethics

But my position is in no sense an endorsement of any natural rights theory of ethics, a theory which, I think, remains nonsense. Rights are not natural; they are ethical constructs, requiring rational justification, and requiring human institutions and human beings to enforce them.

I suppose a serious ethical theory must pass three tests:

(1) it must not commit the “appeal to nature” fallacy;

(2) it must explain how it overcomes or is consistent with G. E. Moore’s “naturalistic fallacy,” and

(3) it must explain how it overcomes or is consistent with Hume’s “is–ought” problem (sometimes called Hume’s Law and Hume’s Guillotine).

A complete answer to the question whether the “good” is really identifiable with natural properties (as naturalism contends), or is an indefinable, non-natural property (as G. E. Moore argued in Principia Ethica) I leave as an open question for further thought, although I do now lean towards the view that the “good” is at least explicable for humans in naturalistic terms.

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow. Before there was Marilyn Monroe or Jennifer Lawrence, or anyone else that the general public sees as a screen siren, there was Jean Harlow, (born Harlean Harlow Carpenter; March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937). Sexist or not she was the first actress to be called the “blonde Bombshell”. While she suffers in the light of current cultural standards, she was a very independent woman for her time. If not for her mothers’ ill health she might never have pressed herself into trying out as an actress. She rejected one offer some executives at Fox Studios. After a few small roles  Harlow was signed to a five-year, $100 per week contract on October 24, 1929.

This is what freedom smells like, The Republican March In North Dakota To Have Tyrannical Government Control of Women’s Bodies.

On Tuesday afternoon, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) signed into law three different abortion restrictions — HB 1305, HB 1456, and SB 2305 — that women’s health advocates say will effectively ban abortion in the state. The extreme legislation that has received the most media attention is HB 1456, an unconstitutional “fetal heartbeat” ban that would outlaw abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even realize they’re pregnant. But when it comes to the new laws’ concrete effect on the lives of women in North Dakota, a lesser-known piece of legislation may actually pose an even bigger threat to reproductive rights.

North Dakota women will feel the immediate impact of SB 2305, which indirectly targets abortion access by over-regulating abortion providers — a popular anti-choice tactic known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP. Abortion opponents push TRAP laws with the ultimate goal of forcing abortion clinics to close their doors.

TRAP laws are cleverly framed in terms of ensuring women’s safety, but they’re actually incredibly effective methods of cutting off access to reproductive care at health clinics.

There has been a lot of hard won progress since the 1930s. Though the attitude that some men in an office somewhere know the best possible intimate health decisions for every woman in America, is still with us. These new laws are going to be challenged in court by people who have a better concept of freedom and the Constitution than North Dakota conservatives.


tulip blossoms wallpaper, you do not own your genes

tulip blossoms wallpaper

tulip blossoms wallpaper

I am surprised that this science-culture-ethics research paper seems to have gotten some traction on the net. I read a science news fed most days and often think, well that story is going to get a lot of attention, and other than a couple science bloggers, the story fails to generate much buzz. You Don’t “Own” Your Own Genes. Researchers Raise Alarm about Loss of Individual “Genomic Liberty” Due to Gene Patents That May Impact the Era of Personalized Medicine

Humans don’t “own” their own genes, the cellular chemicals that define who they are and what diseases they might be at risk for. Through more than 40,000 patents on DNA molecules, companies have essentially claimed the entire human genome for profit, report two researchers who analyzed the patents on human DNA. Their study, published March 25 in the journal Genome Medicine, raises an alarm about the loss of individual “genomic liberty.”

In their new analysis, the research team examined two types of patented DNA sequences: long and short fragments. They discovered that 41 percent of the human genome is covered by longer DNA patents that often cover whole genes. They also found that, because many genes share similar sequences within their genetic structure, if all of the “short sequence” patents were allowed in aggregate, they could account for 100 percent of the genome.

Furthermore, the study’s lead author, Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College, and the study’s co-author, Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the High Performance and Research Computing Group, found that short sequences from patents also cover virtually the entire genome — even outside of genes.

“If these patents are enforced, our genomic liberty is lost,” says Dr. Mason, an assistant professor of physiology and biophysics and computational genomics in computational biomedicine at the Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell. “Just as we enter the era of personalized medicine, we are ironically living in the most restrictive age of genomics. You have to ask, how is it possible that my doctor cannot look at my DNA without being concerned about patent infringement?”

The U.S. Supreme Court will review genomic patent rights in an upcoming hearing on April 15. At issue is the right of a molecular diagnostic company to claim patents not only on two key breast and ovarian cancer genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 — but also on any small sequence of code within BRCA1, including a striking patent for only 15 nucleotides.

In its study, the research team matched small sequences within BRCA1 to other genes and found that just this one molecular diagnostic company’s patents also covered at least 689 other human genes — most of which have nothing to do with breast or ovarian cancer; rather, its patents cover 19 other cancers as well as genes involved in brain development and heart functioning.

“This means if the Supreme Court upholds the current scope of the patents, no physician or researcher can study the DNA of these genes from their patients, and no diagnostic test or drug can be developed based on any of these genes without infringing a patent,” says Dr. Mason.
One Patented Sequence Matched More Than 91 Percent of Human Genes

Dr. Mason undertook the study because he realized that his research into brain and cancer disorders inevitably involved studying genes that were protected by patents.

Under U.S. patent law, genes can be patented by those researchers, either at companies or institutions, who are first to find a gene that promises a useful application, such as for a diagnostic test. For example, the patents received by a company in the 1990s on BRCA1 and BRCA2 enables it to offer a diagnostic test to women who may have, or may be at risk for, breast or ovarian cancer due to mutations in one or both of these genes. Women and their doctors have no choice but to use the services of the patents’ owner, which costs $3,000 per test, “whereas any of the hundreds of clinical laboratories around the country could perform such a test for possibly much less,” says Dr. Mason.

The impact on these patents is equally onerous on research, Dr. Mason adds.

“Almost every day, I come across a gene that is patented — a situation that is common for every geneticist in every lab,” says Dr. Mason.

Dr. Mason and his research partner sought to determine how many other genes may be impacted by gene patents, as well as the overall landscape of intellectual property on the human genome.

The general argument in favor of patenting genes is that some companies cannot make a profit off their research without a patent. This will come out of the mouths of Fox News talking heads as we’re all gonna die if you don’t have patents on genes. What researchers should be making a profit from is the treatment regime, if anything. To see how this gene patenting plays out just look at Monsanto’s patents on seeds. It does not look evil on the very front end. You buy some patented seeds that they created to survive being sprayed with the weed killer, that they also patented. The problem is that nature does not respect seed patents. The pollen containing the patented genes are blown into the field of someone who did not buy the patented seeds. That farmer cannot harvest that crop without paying Monsanto because the wind blew some of their genes into his/her field. The farmer that did not buy the patented seeds because the economic prisoner of Monsanto. Are cancer patients going to become the economic prisoners of companies that own the gene that requires a gene therapy on the patented genes. Monsanto also claims that in order to make a profit they must patent those genes. Simply put, I don’t care if Monsanto goes out of business and gee, I don ‘t know, we find a way to plant wheat, corn soy beans or whatever, like we did before Monsanto came along and got American, and increasingly European farmers into this cycle of dependence on them because of their weed killer. It is not the least been hyperbolic or melodramatic to say that if a corporation owns our genes they own life. Congress will never let it come to that? They already have by allowing the patenting of human genes and letting Monsanto claim they own even accidentally pollinated crops that have their genes in them.