May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
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May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Jan. 23, 2013/ 12 Shevat, 5773
Good sense and gun control
In the early 1980s, transit officials in Washington couldn't figure out why traffic on the Beltway would grind to a near halt every day around the exact same time. The usual explanations didn't fit.
Then it was discovered that a single driver was to blame. Every day on his drive to work, this commuter would plant himself in the left lane and set his cruise control to 55 mph, the posted speed limit, forcing those behind him to merge right, and you can imagine the effects.
To his credit, this driver came forward in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post. The man's name was John O. Nestor. He explained that the left lane was great; less traffic, less merging -- why not ride it into work every day? Besides, he wrote, "Why should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?"
He achieved immortality by being transformed into a Dickensian-sounding verb: "Nestoring," defined as an absolute adherence to the rules, regardless of the larger consequences.
Fittingly, Nestor was a regulator at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Virtually no drug was worth the risk, according to Nestor. The FDA transferred him out of the cardio-renal-pulmonary unit to some bureaucratic backwater because he "had approved no new chemical entities ... from 1968 to 1972, an experience that contrasted with the experience of every other medical [sic] modern nation and with the experience of other divisions of the FDA."
Of course, that made him a hero to activists like Ralph Nader, whose organization praised Nestor's "unassailable record of protecting the public from harmful drugs." (The Naderites helped Nestor in his lawsuit to get reinstated.)
And it's true: If you approve zero drugs, it's 100 percent guaranteed you will approve no harmful drugs. You'll also approve no helpful drugs. As we learn more and more about the human genome, it's become more clear that what is a lifesaver for many might be a death sentence for a few. Most people can eat peanuts; a relative few of us cannot. The Nestor approach would be to ban peanuts for everyone to prevent anyone from being harmed.
That argument works better for peanuts than it does for new medicines. After all, peanuts rarely save anyone's life. Drugs, on the other hand, have the potential to work miracles for some patients. Nestor's tale has gained wide currency as an allegory about the shortcomings of the FDA and the drug industry. But I keep thinking about it in the context of the gun debate in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
For instance, it doesn't take a genius to realize that James Holmes, the man charged in the shooting rampage at the Aurora, Colo., premiere of "The Dark Night Rises," was at least somewhat inspired by the Batman movies. The evil freak dyed his hair orange and called himself "The Joker."
But hundreds of millions of people saw one of the Batman movies. Let's imagine those movies are 100 percent to blame for the Aurora shooting. Even under that ridiculous assumption, that would mean that something like 99.999999999 percent of consumers of those products were unharmed or unaffected. Similarly, the number of law-abiding gun owners dwarfs the number of mass murderers. And guns actually stop crimes too.
The same problem exists on the mental health side of the equation. We all know people who fit the description of one of these shooters before they actually killed anyone. Loners, socially awkward, etc. How many of those people turn into mass murderers? Not many. How do you propose weeding out the potential mass killers without horribly mistreating the innocent?
President Obama has said that anything is worth it "if even one life can be saved." Citing Newtown in his inaugural address Monday, he said that our journey as a nation will not be complete until we know our children are "always safe from harm."
First, common sense tells us that's ridiculously impossible. Moreover, a Nestorite standard would not only do terrible violence to the First, Second and Fifth Amendments, it would indisputably hold the freedom, health and happiness of the many hostage to the potentially bad actions of the few.
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