The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Serious Doubts

I found in the SF Chronicle that the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study concerning fetal pain, based on a review of existing literature on the topic.

Now, as a caveat, I want to say that I have read only the abstract on the JAMA web site, and not a paper copy. However, the study raises a few mental flags in my head.

First, the lead author is listed as "Susan J. Lee, JD." A "JD" is a law degree. She's alternately described as an attorney on the UCSF faculty or a medical student. My guess is medical student, since the UCSF faculty directory doesn't show anyone of that name as an attorney who is not a medical doctor.

More to the point (via Philadelphia Inquirer):

In today's Journal of the American Medical Association, five researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, review nearly 2,000 studies on the hotly debated questions. They conclude that legislative proposals to allow fetal pain relief during abortion are not justified by scientific evidence.

But their seven-page article has a weakness: It does not mention that one author is an abortion clinic director, while the lead author - Susan J. Lee, a medical student - once worked for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

JAMA editor-in-chief Catherine D. DeAngelis said she was unaware of this, and acknowledged it might create an appearance of bias that could hurt the journal's credibility. "This is the first I've heard about it," she said. "We ask them to reveal any conflict of interest. I would have published" the disclosure if it had been made.

Given that UCSF does not appear to have a joint MD-JD program, it seems reasonable to suppose that her NARAL work was connected to the JD, i.e., something more than hosting an anti-Roberts house party.* So that's mental flag Number 1.

Another listed author is Dr. Drey (yeah, I know), who defended her participation in the study:

UCSF obstetrician-gynecologist Eleanor A. Drey, medical director of the abortion clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, said: "We thought it was critical to include an expert in abortion among the authors. I think my presence... should not serve to politicize a scholarly report."

It's not entirely clear to me why an expert in abortion would be "critical" for a study in fetal pain. An expert in abortion seems qualified in the premature termination of a pregnancy (for whatever reason), and not fetal pain, or neural development, or the effects of anesthesia on fetuses. Her experience doesn't seem particularly relevant, much less "critical." That's mental flag Number 2.

Third, the motivation behind the study seems at least partly politically motivated. The editor claims different (via SF Chronicle):

Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor-in-chief, said the decision to publish the review was not politically motivated.

JAMA does not publish "politically motivated science. We publish data-based, evidence-based science," she said.

This portion of the synopsis provided in the JAMA web site suggests otherwise:

A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence

Susan J. Lee, JD; Henry J. Peter Ralston, MD; Eleanor A. Drey, MD, EdM; John Colin Partridge, MD, MPH; Mark A. Rosen, MD

JAMA. 2005;294:947-954.

Context Proposed federal legislation would require physicians to inform women seeking abortions at 20 or more weeks after fertilization that the fetus feels pain and to offer anesthesia administered directly to the fetus. This article examines whether a fetus feels pain and if so, whether safe and effective techniques exist for providing direct fetal anesthesia or analgesia in the context of therapeutic procedures or abortion.

[italics added]

Seems a little curious that a study free of political motivation would provide a "context" of proposed federal legislation.

A comment by one of the study's authors would also appear to contradict JAMA's denial of political motivation (via Philadephia Inquirer):

UCSF neuroscientist Henry J. Peter Ralston 3d said he hoped the review would help legislators who were "trying to figure out whether we are causing pain at 12 or 13 weeks."

"The evidence might at least sway their vote," he said.

So, there's a statement relating to motivation there. Dr. Ralston's comment about "12 or 13 weeks" seems particularly odd, given that bill S.51 (The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2005; PDF), and its counterpart in the House, H.R.356 (PDF), is directed to fetus that have developed at 20 weeks and after.** That's mental flag Number 3.

Now, perhaps the methodology is bulletproof (though others may disagree), and the conclusions may be well supported. I don't know - like I said, I have not read the full article. But the surrounding circumstances suggest that this study should be examined with a critical eye.
-----
* NARAL, you may remember, aired a misleading advertisement that linked him to violent anti-abortion militants. I suppose, using NARAL's logic, that the ACLU, by defending the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, should replace its logo with a swastika.

** You can do a search of your own for this on Thomas, hosted at the Library of Congress.


Posted 6:22 PM by Tony


Could Have Used A Breath Mint

I accidentally ran into an old classmate on the street. I hadn't seen her since graduation several years ago, and she was even better looking than I had remembered.

Kind of made me wish I hadn't had that blue cheese, bacon, and onion ring burger for lunch.


Posted 7:24 AM by Tony

Monday, August 22, 2005
A Korean-American Role Model

I've previously mentioned Colonel Young-Oak Kim, a Korean-American who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service with still-extant 100th Infantry Battalion / 442nd Regimental Combat Team* (interesting historical pictures at US Army web site), and later commanded a battalion during the Korean War. The Chosun Ilbo has a piece on Colonel Kim that falls short of the facts in some parts (Kim did not command the 100th Infantry, and the documentary "Forgotten Valor" is not about Kim, but rather about the unit as a whole). The article makes for interesting reading nonetheless (found via Marmot's Hole.

Worth checking out is the Go For Broke Educational Foundation web site, which has videotaped interviews with veterans of the 100th/442nd, including Colonel Kim, who, in one interview describes the terrain at Anzio. In another, he describes his transfer to the 100th:

So 8 o'clock, I was in the building and reported to, and it's the first time I had met Lieutenant Colonel Farrant Turner. And I just entered, dropped it on his desk, saluted and said, Lieutenant Young Kim reporting for duty. It was that simple because that was all that you were required to do. He looked up at me and he says, you know, I don't think you realize that this is a Japanese unit. And of course you're Korean. He says, historically, you know, the Japanese and Koreans don't get along. He said, I'll have you transferred. And I said, Sir, I said, they're Americans and I'm an American. And we're going to fight for America. So I want to stay. He looked kind of startled. He said, well, you know, all the other officers who have preceeded you, who were not Japanese Americans. Well, they didn't have the term "Japanese American" in those days. Those who were not Japanese all wanted out. And so the process has been set up. I can have you transferred first thing in the morning. I said, no Sir, I want to stay.

Dang.
-----
* The 100th Infantry recently was training for deployment to Iraq (PDF of original article here). According to the Global Security site, the 100th is currently in Iraq as part of the 29th Infantry Brigade, Hawaii National Guard.


Posted 5:48 PM by Tony


Hard-Hitting Comparisons

... not.

Sean Penn's in Tehran, looking over things. I found particularly cute his unsubtle equation of American conservatives to the Islamic fundamentalists (via SF Chronicle):

It's the week preceding presidential elections. Candidates attack one another's credibility. Activists push to boycott the vote. Traffic and pollution choke the cities. Leftists support a no-win idealist. Preachers guide their flocks toward political starboard. The media have fallen under the grip of standing power, and should they defy it, they're imprisoned. University students promote human rights, while fundamentalists deny them. It is a culture in love with cinema. With Brad Pitt. Angelina Jolie. And anything Steven Spielberg. It is a nation of nuclear power, where the lobbies of the religious right effectively blur the lines between church and state. But it is also a country of good and hospitable people. And when the local team wins a big match, there is dancing, kissing, drinking and drugs in the streets. Women are graduating the campuses in higher and higher numbers, occupying government in higher and higher numbers. Sound familiar? But wait. The women. Look at the women. All is not well. I'm thinking about the women. This is Iran.

Pathetic. This is pretty indicative to the weight or seriousness Penn's account deserves. For what it's worth, apparently Iran is not full of flowery meadows and rainbow skies, and rivers made of chocolate, where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles.


Posted 5:26 PM by Tony


Iowa By The Bay

From the SF Chronicle (see also earlier story):

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and adopted by the Senate Thursday without objection would open bidding for the 63-year-old, 987-foot-long ship to any California city. As of now, with San Francisco apparently out of the race after the city's Board of Supervisors refused to endorse a nonprofit group's bid for the battlewagon, Stockton is the only city in the running.

Feinstein's legislation in the massive annual defense authorization bill, which she says is in keeping with longtime Navy policy calling for localities to bid on taking possession of retired vessels for a new life as museums, conflicts with a provision that Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, had inserted into the House version of the same bill in May.

The Pombo legislation [H.R. 492, PDF] basically directs the Navy to give the Iowa to the Port of Stockton.

[ . . . ]

Those supervisors who voted against the idea gave a variety of reasons -- lukewarm support from the port and Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays and lesbians serving in the military and the city's history as a center of the peace movement.

But Feinstein, urged on by Iowa's senators, insisted on an open bidding process, rather than adopting Pombo's approach of giving the ship to Stockton, which although it is some 70 miles inland, still has a deep-water port.

"She believes it should be located at the city most interested in it," said Howard Gantman, a spokesman for Feinstein, who helped get the $3 million appropriation that brought the Iowa to Suisun Bay in 2001. "The Navy also wants an open process to evaluate all bids. That's the way it has been traditionally done."

Feinstein had previously called the supervisors' rejection a "very petty decision." It seems to me that Feinstein's current actions rival the Board of Supervisors' for pettiness. Feinstein's criticism of Pombo's bill is a bit curious, given that she rammed through a $3 million expenditure to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island for the express purpose of home porting thet ship in San Francisco. For her to argue now in favor of an open bidding process seems odd, at best.

But that's the Bay Area for you.


Posted 5:22 PM by Tony

Friday, August 19, 2005
Catching Air

Okay, this just looks way too cool to not share (via SF Chronicle):

They may be fuming in Pacific Heights about plans to put 200 tons of snow and a ski jump on Fillmore Street, but it's cause for celebration at the Norwegian Consulate.

"I think it's fabulous," said Cecilie Klaumann, secretary of the Norwegian Consulate in San Francisco. "It's kind of zany, if you ask me, in a San Francisco way. But let's face it, San Francisco is a bit wacko, and the whole world knows it."

Icer Air 2005, slated for Aug. 27, will put snow, a ski jump, camera crews and crowds on Fillmore Hill to help celebrate Olympic skier Jonny Moseley's 30th birthday and hawk Icer's line of apparel, ski waxes and snowboard waxes. Moseley and 30 other professionals -- including several Norwegians -- will fly off a jump at Fillmore and Vallejo streets, do mid- air acrobatics and land near Green Street.

Hay bales will keep them from plowing into oncoming traffic, and the athletes will be competing for a $100,000 prize and a Jeep. Organizers hope to make it an annual event in different cities.

But neighbors, as well as Hindu monks who worship nearby and a bride who plans to get married at the historic Flood Mansion a half-block away, are upset about the street closures, inconvenience, potential trash and noise. But for some, including local Norwegians, it's a chance to showcase the national sport.

Sweeeeet.


Posted 8:50 AM by Tony


Sounds Like An Uphill Struggle To Me

The East Bay Express has an interesting article on Rabbi Michael Lerner and his attempts of getting the Left to become more comfortable talking about religion. To me, however, it really sounds like an uphill project:

The thing is, Lerner was right. When he began organizing his conference, he figured he'd be lucky if four hundred people showed up. In fact, roughly 1,300 people -- ministers and theologians, lawyers and Benedictine monks -- flew in from all over the country, and hundreds more had to be turned away. George Lakoff and Jim Wallis, the two reigning gurus of the Democratic Party, each spoke for an hour about values, God, faith, and the future of the left. As a collection of talent and resolve, Lerner's conference was considerably more noteworthy than the media allowed for.

But perhaps he should count his blessings. Had the media stuck around, it would have found a crude work in progress, whose participants were less inclined toward engaging in transcendent soul-searching than regurgitating predictable cant and displaying moral blind spots and a dismaying pessimism about the country's sense of possibility. Next spring, Lerner will reconvene his followers in Washington, DC, where they will take a stab at refining the ideas birthed in Berkeley, this time under the scrutiny of the national press. If this was off-Broadway, the production had better rework its script before the real curtain rises next year.

[ . . . ]

In fact, conference attendees openly sneered at one of the country's most important Christian movements. At a workshop entitled "Understanding the Theology of Christian Fundamentalists," session leader Jim Garrison spent a few minutes exploring the apocalyptic strain in fundamentalist doctrine. This tradition, he then explained, is why George W. Bush and his fundamentalist allies are "lunatics coming from a very deep place of theological authority" and have the "mentality of the suicide bomber." Garrison even claimed that our entire foreign policy has been subordinated to the interests of Israel because the neoconservative fundamentalists running this country believe that nation is the catalyst for the onset of the end time foretold in the Book of Revelation.

[ . . . ]

Lerner may have an even more profound problem: his colleagues were all worked up about what a bad guy George W. Bush is, but seemed incapable of recognizing any evil beyond the capitalist variety. If Garrison's seminar on evangelical Christians was merely annoying, the following day's workshop on "The Challenge of Islamic Fundamentalism" was nauseating. The session leader, Sufi mystic Kabir Helminski, pointed out that Islamic fundamentalism arose as a fusion of an aberrant interpretation of traditional Islam with the totalitarian, utopian ideologies of the 20th century -- a point the writer Paul Berman has made before, and it's true enough. But in a seminar titled for the fanaticism that would exterminate Enlightenment liberalism at the point of the sword, Helminski praised the "grievances" of its mujahideen when he wasn't busy instructing his listeners that traditional Islam stood for environmentalism, animal rights, and the separation of "mosque and state."

[ . . . ]

But no one really cares about these crackpot prescriptions anyway; what mattered was that hundreds of people, however flawed, seriously considered how to renew God's place in leftist politics. When they gather again in Washington, DC, next spring, they'll have a chance to do a better job. The left has been invigorated by a fairly novel sense of purpose. And as improbable as it sounds, the city of Berkeley, which has defined the margins of liberal politics for the last four decades, has suddenly emerged as its epicenter. From MoveOn.org to DailyKos, George Lakoff, and now Michael Lerner, this town suddenly matters.

Of course, so far that purpose has been restricted to loathing George W. Bush and everything he stands for. If it's ever going to mature into a coherent, affirmative social contract, eventually Berkeley will have to get out of the way.

I think the article really hits the nail on the head. If the Left really wants to be taken seriously outside of coastal urban enclaves such as the Bay Area, then it's really going to get over its sneering attitude towards mainstream religion. Despite my disagreement with leftist viewpoints, I really wish Lerner luck - democratic values certainly aren't served when one side is intent on marginalizing itself.


Posted 8:33 AM by Tony

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Wilsonianism And North Korea

I had read earlier this year Special Providence, by Walter Russell Mead. I was struck by his deconstruction of the myth that pre-World War II American foreign policy was marked by an innocent isolationism.

Mead divides current trends in American foreign policy among four schools, although, as Rich Lowry illustrates, the president's foreign policy thinking (and, as Mead relates, "neocon" thinking) may represent a confluence of several of these schools. I'd like to look at one of these schools, known as (using Mead's terminology) "Wilsonianism."

Wilsonianism traces it roots to the 19th century, and was shaped by the American missionary experience abroad, particularly China (you'll have to excuse me, as I'm going off of memory here). These missionaries were angered by what they viewed as the inequitable treatment of the Chinese, and communicated this to their churches back in America. One interesting result was that Congress members receiving letters about China from constitutents in, say, the Midwest, who otherwise had no ties with China.

Keeping with its historical ties, I suppose, Wilsonianism today may be identified with evangelical Christianity, as shown with respect to North Korea (via New York Times):

Between the Prayer Tent and an abstinence-promotion booth, however, worshipful revelers [at the Rock the Desert Christian music festival] also stumbled into a more sobering pavilion, the North Korea Genocide Exhibit.

Inside, Kang Chol Hwan, a North Korean defector recently summoned to meet President Bush, signed copies of his memoir of 10 years in a prison camp. Drawings by defectors depicted the torture of North Korean Christians. A video, available free on DVD, showed shaky, grainy footage of two public executions.

In another exhibition, based on a defector's account of a deadly medical experiment, a bloody mannequin and baby doll leaned against the walls of a mock gas chamber made from a shower stall that at one point was filled with sulfurous yellow gas.

[ . . . ]

Last month, Ms. Fikes [of the Midland Minsterial Alliance] joined dozens of other people from the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention and groups like the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for a meeting in Washington, where they signed a declaration of principles that laid out their goals.

[ . . . ]

"The Midland Alliance has had a major impact in the Sudan," Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, a Kenyan who helped mediate the peace, wrote last week in an e-mail message.

"I believe the saying that 'the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat' is quite effective," General Sumbeiywo said. "It has therefore made a major difference - a positive one - to have their letterhead identified as the home of President Bush."

[ . . . ]

Mr. Kang shook his head in astonishment at the depth of concern evident on Saturday, especially at the mock gas chamber. He had never seen such a thing.

"In South Korea," he said, "people are generally ignorant or they don't even care. It is amazing to learn that American youth have this knowledge and they care to build a replica to show other people!"

Now, I'm not an evangelical, or, truth be told, all that religious. But I do think this is an interesting manifestation of American human rights thinking. For my money, it sure as hell is more constructive than the work of other Christian types.*
-----
*What makes the latter rather incredible is that it boasts of future action under the 1994 agreement, and posts a 2003 op-ed, while ignoring intervening developments


Posted 11:47 AM by Tony

Monday, August 08, 2005
A Truly Surreal Life

Same-sex marriage analyses aside, I doubt that the Full Faith and Credit Clause was designed to cover this (via SF Chronicle):

A 22-year-old man faces criminal charges in Nebraska for having sex with an underage 13-year-old girl, although he legally married her in Kansas after she became pregnant.

The man's lawyer said the couple, with their families' support, "made a responsible decision to try to cope with the problem."

Matthew Koso, 22, was charged Monday with first-degree sexual assault, punishable by up to 50 years in prison. He was released on $7,500 bail pending an Aug. 17 preliminary hearing.

After the girl became pregnant, her mother gave permission in May for Koso to take the young woman to Kansas, which allows minors to get married with parental consent. The girl is now 14 and seven months pregnant.

[ . . . ]

Nebraska requires people to be at least 17 before they can marry.

Kansas law, however, sets no minimum marriage age, although case law sets the minimum age at 14 for boys and 12 for girls. The marriage must be approved by both parents or guardian, or by a district court judge, said Whitney Watson, spokesman for Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. A judge also must approve if only one parent approves.

Now, I realize that guys that age are prone to stupid things, but still . . . geez.

(Yes, I know it was a while ago, but just think of it as a very short flashback.)


Posted 7:01 PM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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