Some great recent comments, and a little response.

With regards to my mega-magnum opus about Gaza and Israel, commenter DJH writes

One thing I think is missing is discussion of Egypt’s role. The Egyptian government has no love for Hamas; anything Israel can do to co-opt them into helping push for a solution that forwards common interests could make a difference in the long-run. Not sure what that is, other than that it has to start with avoiding doing things that piss off the entire Arab world.

This is a very good point – Egypt has the opportunity to be a really important player here.  The fact is, Hamas is a key player in Iran’s attempt to become the major player in the Middle East.  Sunni Egypt and Saudi Arabia have no love for Shi’ite Iran’s plans, and thus, no interest in seeing Hamas rise in prestige or power.  It seems like there’s a powerful opporunity to build Egypt’s prestige, and their credibility with the U.S., if they can be involved in the campaign against supplying weapons to Hamas in Gaza.  But, as DJH points out, if Egyptian citizens are watching Gazan civilians dying by the bucketful on Al Jazeera, they’re not going to put up with their government coming to the aid of the Israelis, even in the interest of regional peace and hostility reduction.

With regards to my hatred for the concept of jelly, LT writes

The real question though is smooth or chunky?

Look, this isn’t really a question.  Smooth peanut butter is intended to be used with cooking, for things like peanut sauces and peanut butter cookies, where little peanut chunks would be noticeable and, well, bad.  Chunky peanut butter is the way peanut butter is supposed to be.  Especially in the context of sandwiches like PB+J, Fluffernutters, and PB+Honey, the peanut chunks are absolutely necessary to bringing any contrasting textures to the sandwich.  So, the answer is chunky.  Always, always, chunky.

With regards to my limited condemnation of the idea of Rick Warren giving the inaugural invocation, theformerfundie says

Fair enough. But it’s interesting that if Warren’s views about gays were about any other group (except atheists, of course, as he has already made his opinion known about us), he would never have been asked. If you just substitute the word Jew or Black whenever he uses “gay” you can see what I mean. So, I still find Obama’s choice offensive, even if it “merely” political.

Good point.  I have no strong response to this.  If Rick Warren were one-tenth as racist as he is homophobic, he wouldn’t be invited within a country mile of the invocation.  I guess this falls back on the, frankly, somewhat despicable excuse of being ‘pragmatic.’  The fact is, it’s still considered acceptable in this country to still be homophobic, while most other prejudices have become completely verboten.  It’s crap, and fundie is right to point it out.

On the subject of Joss Whedon, LT says

…you refer to Joss Wheedon as Firefly. Which is a great show, but as for level of popularity and recognition, shouldn’t you have used Buffy instead – 1 season versus 7? And if you haven’t watched Buffy, you’re missing out on an amazing show.

Fair enough, to each their own, and Buffy was certainly much better-watched than Firefly ever was.  But, screw it – it’s my blog, and I think Firefly was the superior work of art, the best series that Whedon has done yet.  I doubt it had 7 seasons’ worth of creativity in it, like Buffy did, but it might have.  It was a very interesting universe, and there were many possibilities.  I’m curious about Dollhouse, his upcoming series on Fox, mostly curious to see the new and inventive ways Fox comes up with to screw it up.

On the subject of health care expenditures in the U.S., truth=freedom notes that

It’s not just what we spend, although that’s important information. It’s the outcome we achieve. That’s an outcome that is abominable. We have shorter life expectancy and greater infant mortality than most of the places in that list, for about 80-100% more money.


Stupid indeed.  Spending more to get less is simply not a functional system that can last forever.  Changes will happen, and we can do them sensibly or just “let the market work” and see what the insurance companies invent to screw us over.

Finally, I was, frankly, a bit disappointed by the fact that nobody got the least bit pissed about my diatribe against surrogate pregnancy.  truth=freedom weighed in pretty much in agreement with my opinions:

Using our technological prowess for the purpose of creating children for people physically incapable of having them when millions of children are in need of better lives seems morally incongruous to me. I find the urge to insist on one’s own genes propogating (in the face of your biological reality pointing you in a different direction) selfish, but also unwise, and possibly fraught with unforeseen consequences.

As with so many things, one feels compelled to point out that just because we *can* do something doesn’t make it a good idea.

True enough, especially that last point.  Just as ‘ought’ does not imply ‘is’ in the realm of, say, foreign policy, likewise ‘can’ does not imply ‘ought’ in the realm of science.

By contrast, interestingly, Bump Fairy wrote in to argue in favor of surrogacy in some cases.  And, the lady knows of what she speaks – roundabout New Years 2009, she gave birth to twin girls that she was carrying as a surrogate.  You can read all about her entire experience, if you’re so inclined, on her blog.  You should read her whole comment, which spans many different sets of arguments, but I’ll quote her final paragraph:

Adoption is a beautiful way to grow your family, but not everyone is cut out to be an adoptive parent! Some can’t ( homosexual couples in some states and most countries), some are scared to ( failed adoptions where the birth mother changes her mind), some want that full parenting experience from day one ( unlike foreign adoptions where the children are 1-2 years old, beyond infancy), and some just want a child that the rest of the fertile world takes for granted. Some want to see if their daughter gets her dimples and his chin, some dream of a baby who looks like grandpa Frank. And they have that RIGHT. It is not the duty of the infertile to take home all these “unwanted” children in the world, It is the duty of society as a WHOLE to care for them. That includes those super fertile folks who just look at each other and get pregnant with number six while another child checks in to the foster system.

And she’s right, they do have that right.  I’m not arguing that we should be outlawing surrogacy.  I’m simply asking if we, as individual people, can’t do better.  I think we can.  I understand wanting to see things like a baby who looks like Grandpa Frank.  I do.  I also think that, all things considered, it would be better, in a moral sense, to try to put the resources you would have spent finding out in a different direction.

I could be wrong – I don’t think this is an obvious case.  I think it’s what would seem better to me, were I in this situation, but it’s hard to know for sure before I’m there…


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