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239 Beacon of Hope

About Marat

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  1. It is often said that depression is caused just by a chemical imbalance in the brain, so all we have to do is drug ourselves to restore the imbalance to the proper level, and we should be fine. But the problem with this is that depression is highly correlated with adverse life events, and there is no reason why people who have suffered 'depressing' events in their life should also just happen to be the same people who have a chemical imbalance in the brain. If we assume that the depressing life events cause the chemical imbalance, then the chemical imbalance is no longer the ultimate cause,
  2. Actually a fistula access for dialysis is not necessary, since a central-line catheter will do just as well. While needling via a fistula is extremely painful, and patients report that local anesthetic does not help much, a central-line catheter is completely painless. Fistulas tend to break down over time, so painful 'mapping' procedures are necessary to assess their patency and blood flow rates. They often have to be reconstructed, which is also a painful surgical process. Sometimes they fail to work from the outset, and so have to be constructed again. The patient has to do demanding e
  3. Efforts to ameliorate or cure type 1 diabetes by transplanting either the entire pancreas or the functional units of the pancreas, the beta cell islets, have had little success due to their destruction either by normal immunity or by the same autoimmune response in the patient which caused diabetes in the first place. Also, with about 800,000 type 1 diabetics in the U.S. and only about 5000 cadavers becoming available for organ harvesting each year, the donor supply could never make any difference in the disease epidemiologically. A major alternative to this approach has been to transplan
  4. Marat

    Human Rights

    The position of Kant and other idealists would hold that rights can be derived a priori, ideally but not empirically, from an analysis of the type of characteristics that would have to be possessed by people in order for them to be morally significant. So all these questions about who sets up the rights system we have, whether it can be made empirically effective, who gets to make decisions about rights, etc., make about as much sense with respect to the ideal system of rights as questions about how can we teach logic, how can people use it, and how can society accept it would make for the va
  5. I think the basic flaw with your theory is that sexual researchers have found that women tend to become more sexually interested as they age, up until menopause, because as they have more sexual experience, they become more relaxed about it and can enjoy it more. This is probably because their real experience of the ordinary, biological pleasure that human sexual experience actually is helps them overcome all the artificial, metaphysical terror society has built into women about sex being a toxic and sacred thing, which can only be safely endured under the restrictions of monogamny or romance
  6. Marat

    Human Rights

    This thread got off on the wrong foot by worrying about who first creates human rights, and then wondering whether the impeachable status of the various creators of human rights systems undermines the claim of rights to be absolute. But undermining rights by impeaching those who first posited them in law is like trying to argue that the calculus is faulty because Isaac Newton was viciously difficult to get along with. The validity of the calculus, like that of human rights, is intrinsic: either the system is coherent and appeals to what it must describe -- the real world in the former case a
  7. Marat


    What does it mean that taller people 'do better'? Generally, people who come closer to fulfilling the arbitrary, socially-established conventions of attractiveness, suitability for a leadership role, authority, etc., are GIVEN better positions by the subconscious motivations of hiring committees, the electorate (the taller candidate almost always wins the Presidency), and both men and women seeking a mate. Since one of the most important of these criteria for social selection is tallness, tall people may just seem to do better without really deserving that success, simply because they are gi
  8. From what I have read, a modern octopus, while extremely intelligent for a sea creature, is in fact no smarter than the domestic cat. Their intelligence seems to be a function of their flexible body, whose advantages for escaping enemies and hunting prey can only be exploited if they can correctly assess their own dimensions in relation to the complex geometry of underwater caves and crevices. So they seem not only to be geometrically smart, but also, more importantly, to have a sense of their own self image. These two skills are essential for being able to make artistic representations, es
  9. I think I'm the only person who read your theory on rape and agreed straight away :P although I believe it a reason, I don't believe it's the sole reason. I think people misinterpretted it as you saying it's the fault of women (which is obviously going to get people upset). Anyway I've read a lot of your posts and was wondering if you could tell me a bit about yourself, you ...

  10. Amnesty International, a reasonably neutral observer, has just said on BBC World that 'both sides' are committing violations of international law in the Libyan conflict. So I guess that where both sides are violating international law, NATO just backs the side whose victory most helps its economic interests. That's worth dying for ...
  11. Germany is also the only country in the world where I have lived or travelled where the cab drivers -- who are theoretically hoping for a good tip, aren't they? -- are spontaneously aggressively rude to their fares. This derives perhaps from the odd, statist, authoritarian assumption in Germany that the person with the office, the facility, behind the counter, with the authority is Hitler and everyone else is in Auschwitz. Thus the sales lady shrieks at you because you brought her three items of the same product and she rang up the price before you notified her that all the prices were diffe
  12. When Spinoza identified God with all that exists, he was accused of atheism for not affirming the separate existence of God. I think that everyone agrees with the utterly trivial point that all the power, all the knowability, all the potential future states, all the good, and all the evil of the universe 'exists' as the universe. The essential point of the theists, however, is that all of this exists apart from the universe with the 'evil' subtracted out of it and left either in the physical world or in human nature or both. I don't know how anyone could ascend to a sufficiently universa
  13. I think we all (?) agree that SHC does not exist, for the very reason that it would require some sort of supernatural action for something so naturally moist and difficult to combust as a human body to burst into flames. So no one is disagreeing with you there. The cases are interesting, however, since finding a real explanation that covers all the available data in a plausible way seems difficult.
  14. I agree. The danger of e coli and other pathogens in organic food, free range chickens and eggs, etc., probably outweighs the benefits. Now that the health status of numerous Egyptian mummies has been studied, we know that people living exclusively on the essentially natural food of that era (except for Egyptian beer, which is an example of an early processed food) had very poor health from the parasites and grinding down of the tooth surfaces from eating stone-milled bread.
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