Hsieh LTE on CO Health Care Choice

 Posted by on 31 August 2010 at 3:00 pm  Activism, Health Care
Aug 312010

The August 30, 2010 Colorado Springs Gazette has published my LTE supporting their position on Amendment 63 (the second one down):

Doctor gives thanks for 63

Thank you for speaking out in favor of the Colorado Health Care Choice Initiative protecting us from mandatory health insurance. This idea forming the core of ObamaCare has already been tried — and failed — in Massachusetts, resulting only in skyrocketing health costs, a desperate shortage of doctors, and significantly longer waits for medical care than in the rest of the country. Some Massachusetts patients must now wait almost a year for a routine physical exam.

As a practicing physician, such Massachusetts-style problems are the last thing I want here in Colorado. Colorado voters can avoid the mistakes of Massachusetts by supporting Amendment 63.

Paul Hsieh, MD

The original Gazette OpEd can be found in the August 27, 2010 edition at: “Amendment 63 protects our freedom“.

#OLists Happy Hour

 Posted by on 31 August 2010 at 12:00 pm  Announcements, OList
Aug 312010

I’m eagerly looking forward to tonight’s #OList Twitter Happy Hour, given the two topics for discussion:

This week’s Appetizer: If you are a blogging parent, how do you handle the issues that come up around blogging about your kids and family life? Do you hold particular boundaries that dictate what you will and will not share on the blog, or do you take an “anything goes” approach? Finally, have your boundaries or standards in this area changed or evolved over time, as your kids get older – or do you expect them to?

This week’s Drink Special: Do you blog about your work and/or clients? If so, are you up front about it, or do you keep it a deep dark secret? Do you censor your content, or boldly speak what’s on your mind, or some combination of the two? What do you think about “telling all” while sanitizing the relevant identifying information? Have you ever gotten in trouble with a client, co-worker, or employer over your blog’s content?

I love those topics! Personally, I’ve chosen to blog openly about some rather personal details about my hypothyroidism, but I’ve always been rather discreet about my (now former) colleagues at CU Boulder. I’ll be interested to hear what choices others have made — and why.

Remember: Happy Hour takes place on Twitter from 9-10 p.m. Eastern, 6-7 p.m. Pacific. Use the hashtag #OLists to identify your tweets as part of the Happy Hour, and join us!

For more details on this Happy Hour, see this post. For general information about OLists Twitter Socials, visit the OList.com events page. And don’t forget about the #OLists Sunday Brunch!

Oh, and if you’d like to join us but you don’t yet have a twitter account, I’d recommend that you sign up for that now, as your #OLists hash tag won’t show up in Twitter’s search for an hour or three.


This video of Brigitte Gabriel discussing the barbarity of Islam has been making the rounds on blogs and social media recently:

(Note: This is a multi-part video series.)

Diana and I heard Brigitte Gabriel speak at the same LPR 2009 conference that Yaron Brook spoke at. She is a staunch Christian who took an uncompromising stand against the Islamic threat to America. She told some heart-rending stories of life as a Christian under Islamist rule in Lebanon. She made a compelling case that the Islamists want destroy America. And she had the mostly-conservative crowd eating out of her hand.

And she’s just one of many eloquent Christian conservatives out there on the lecture circuit making their case against the Islamic threat — and arguing that the only solution is for this country to recommit to Christian values.

For this reason, I regard her and her allies as a serious long-term danger to America, even though her criticisms of the barbarity of Islam are correct. She correctly identifies the current problem, but she also offers the wrong solution.

Let me explain why I regard the Christians as the greater long-term danger to America — even while I also agree that the Islamists are the greater immediate short-term threat to this country.

Based on my reading of American culture and sense of life, I personally don’t think this country can actually be conquered by the Islamists. Yes, the Islamists will try as hard as they can. And yes, they could do a tremendous amount of damage (with more 9/11-style attacks or worse). And yes, they could kill many Americans in the process. But they couldn’t actually take over and impose Sharia law on us.

There’s still a general “ornery streak” alive and well amongst many Americans that would reject any such an attempt to subjugate us to Sharia law. Many Americans would fight back by any means necessary — especially in the much-maligned “Red states” where that ornery streak runs deep and where the populace is well-armed.

(This is in contrast to Europe, where I think many of those countries could fall under Sharia law due to their internal weaknesses).

But I do think that if the Islamists successfully committed more major terrorist attacks on US soil, it would arouse a backlash by decent Americans seeking some kind of forceful response. Conservatives like Brigitte Gabriel would exploit this and use pro-American rhetoric to rouse Americans against the Islamists. And this breed of conservatives might even implement a somewhat better foreign policy, at least for a while.

But they also would couple that with appeals to Christianity, sacrifice, faith, etc. — all in the name of being “pro-America”. Those are the sorts of appeals that the neocons, John McCain, and other bad conservatives have been making for many years — and which would strike a renewed chord in an America shaken up by a string of deadly attacks at home and abroad. Americans would likely reject our current policy of appeasement (correctly seeing it as having weakened this country), but would instead embrace an even worse nationalism. And without a firm commitment to individual rights, any new conservative nationalist government would very likely impose a variety of “emergency” measures that might be superficially reasonable (and might even be appropriate in short-term wartime settings), but would somehow never be repealed.

If dictatorship ever comes to America, it won’t be an Islamist one. Instead, it will more likely be a Christian one, but one which would arise as a direct result of our current weak approach to the real and immediate Islamist threats. Furthermore, such a Christianist regime could gain traction here in a way that an Islamist regime never could because the Christianist regime would have a superficially “pro-American” veneer.

Tellingly, polls taken in the past few years show the following:

Given these facts, I think a Christian dictatorship could appeal to many Americans in a time of crisis, especially if it came to power on a platform of fighting back against the Islamists — and if it were viewed as the only moral alternative to the policies of appeasement and secularism that allowed such attacks to happen in the first place.

Hence, it’s critical to both oppose the immediate and serious Islamist danger, but also be alert to the Christian totalitarian threat.

Back in 1980, many Americans (correctly) recognized the USSR as a threat, but also thought that we could use the Islamist mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan as allies against the communists. Of course today the USSR is no more, but the Islamists are now a real danger to us in a way that few (myself included) anticipated 30 years ago.

But as more conservatives start speaking out against Islam, I want to highlight the importance of closely examining what they stand for in addition to what they are against.

And on a positive note, I also wanted to highlight the importance of offering Americans an alternative principled self-interested approach to foreign policy that doesn’t rely on appeals to faith, altruism, and sacrifice. Fortunately, we have such an approach to offer. Let’s hope our message reaches enough Americans before it’s too late.

Aug 302010

Right now, I’m crazy-busy with the final push to complete Ari Armstrong’s and my major update to our policy paper against the “personhood” movement. We’ve put a ton more work into it than we thought, and we’re really pleased with the results. Still, we have much work to do!

Time is also running short on another project of mine, namely the pledge drive for my next podcast. It closes tomorrow at noon.

You’ll find all the details in this blog post. But in essence, your pledges will determine which of the following three topics that I cover — if I podcast at all. (Right now, I’ve not collected sufficient funds to make the podcast worth my doing.) The three topics are:

  • Irrational Family Members: How can we be consistently rational and selfish in our dealings with irrational, altruistic, and/or religious family members? When should you tolerate people you dislike or that you judge immoral? How can you make those people more tolerable — or even acceptable? What should you do if that’s not possible? When should cut off relations with someone? How can you explain what you’re doing and why to your better family members?
  • Sense of Life: What is “sense of life”? What is its importance to a person’s life? How do you identify your own sense of life? How do you identify that of others? How does sense of life impact our thinking, feelings, and choices? How does it impact our relations with other people, including friendship and romance? How is sense of life revealed in our responses to art? What is the relationship between a person’s sense of life and his explicit philosophy? Can sense of life be changed? If so, how?
  • Value Density: What is value density? How and why do people fail to seek value density in their lives? How can we make our lives more value dense? How does the concept apply to our purchases, what we eat, our relationships, productivity, vacations, education, and social events, for example?

The deadline for pledges is August 31st at noon. If people pledge enough money to make this 30 to 60 minute podcast worth my while, I’ll produce it by September 10th. The topic will be whichever of the three above topics that receives the most money in total pledges. So you can pledge on more than one topic, if you like, knowing that you’ll only owe one pledge in the end. Most importantly, only the people who pledged on that particular topic will receive the podcast.

If you want to pledge, here’s the pledge form:

[Sorry, pledging has closed! The results are here.]

If you have any questions, check out this blog post.

Reminder: Rationally Selfish Q&A

 Posted by on 30 August 2010 at 7:00 am  Announcements
Aug 302010

This week’s voting on the next question for my Rationally Selfish Q&A closes at 10 AM (MT) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I’ll post the answer to the most popular question.

Right now, we have six questions, but none have gotten a ton of votes. So here they are:

  • “I have a terminal illness (cancer) that’s getting in the way of my daily life, which includes a full-time job and college. Is it moral to stop working and go on disability?”
  • “What are your thoughts on people who complain about their problems but never pursue to solve them, or, worse, actively evade and ignore solutions that confront them? E.g. a student who complains about his budget but continues to spend irrationally.”
  • “Could you give or recommend a set of guidelines for blog/online discussion etiquette? How can someone maximize their benefit from online discussions and relationships?”
  • “Is there a principle of Objectivism which justifies and requires kindness to other people (not necessarily going out of one’s way, but treating others ‘like human beings’ and a basic level of respect), or is it just an issue of reciprocity?”
  • “How would you treat an adult child who wishes to move back home after a history of poor self-control and irresponsible choices?”
  • “I am a 20-something girl with ambitious career goals and a strong desire to have a family. How did you decide to pursue a career rather than having children? Do you have any advice about how to go about making the decision?”

Good questions! If you have a preference about which question I answer, go vote! Remember that you can vote against the questions you don’t want answered, as well as for the question you want answered.

Oh, and you can start posting questions for next week too!

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 29 August 2010 at 1:00 pm  Activism Recap
Aug 292010

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Politics without God, the blog of Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Modern Paleo Blog, the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #194

 Posted by on 29 August 2010 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Aug 292010

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Aug 282010

Here’s an interesting tidbit on cruciferous vegetables, hypothyroidism, and iodine that I found on Modern Paleo’s PaleoThyroid e-mail list:

Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and turnips, have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals (68). Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function (69).

That’s good to know!

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 27 August 2010 at 1:00 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Aug 272010

EGO hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go check it out!

Catholic Theocracy

 Posted by on 27 August 2010 at 7:00 am  Abortion, Culture, Politics, Religion
Aug 272010

At first, I thought this video — which calls for restricting the vote to faithful Catholics and installing a Catholic monarch — must be satire. However, Real Catholic TV is genuine. Watch it for yourself… and be amazed.

Notably, Real Catholic TV posted a non-clarifying clarification here.

Quite often, I’ve heard from my fellow atheists that talk of theocracy in America is absurd. Is it? I think not, and here’s why:

  • Much grassroots political activism is driven by religious dogma today, as we’ve seen up close and personal in Colorado. For example, every group pushing for Colorado’s “personhood” amendment is deeply religious: Colorado Right to Life “commits to never compromise on God’s law, ‘Do not murder.’” Personhood USA seeks to “honor the Lord Jesus Christ with our lives and actions,” and they do so by acting as “missionaries to preborn children.”
  • Fundamentalist Christians and their mouthpieces like the American Family Association claim that America was founded as a Christian nation and that the Bible is the foundation for our laws. They do that, even though the Constitution is a thoroughly secular document, even though the 1797 Treaty with Tropoli denied that the US was a Christian nation, and so on. Their strategy of evasion seems to be effective. A 2007 USA Today article reports that “55% [of Americans] believe erroneously that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation.” (75% of evangelicals and Republicans thought so.)
  • A slew of well-funded and deeply-motivated Christian groups actively seek to reform America’s laws in keeping with the will of God. So the basic mission of Concerned Women for America, for example, is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”

So should we dismiss a call for Catholic theocracy as too looney to take seriously? I think not. For too many Christians, the only problem with it is that the culture must be forced to be thoroughly Christian too… oh, and they would vastly prefer their sect to be in power. That’s hardly comforting.

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