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Archive for December, 2012

Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, William Binney on whistleblowing and surveillance

New video, important subject

More Xmas and Birthday Photos

Cake Roy Schestowitz

Xmas Roy Schestowitz

Altar Roy Schestowitz

31st Birthday

Thanks to Rhoda for this card…

Birthday card

Transplants and Ethical Approval

YESTERDAY I had a conversation with my sister in law in Singapore, as she works on surgeries there, mostly transplants. The subject fascinates me because I am registered as an Organ Donor who also believes that terminally-ill patients should consider donating their organs as part of euthanasia that helps dodge the pain of dying. It’s not the same as organ harvesting, it’s a case of assessing how to increase overall survival of the collective. Yes, it’s a controversial subject, but ethics do change over time (or place) and if it’s all consensual and it increase communal benefit, e.g. survival, then why not entertain the idea? Here is part of the conversation:

(14/12/12 14:58:35) Anonymised: Hi bro, I’m sorry I haven’t reply to you..I fall asleep, been toxic this week..
(14:59:02) Roy: oh, tell me about it sis
(15:10:56) Anonymised: We have back to back liver transplant both cadaveric And living related donor..
(15:13:29) Anonymised: I’m on pager call for two weeks for the transplant and we have cases :)
(15:13:44) Anonymised: :(
(15:15:35) Roy: Oh, I didn’t realise it works like this..
(15:15:51) Roy: I spoke about this in the sauna last night
(15:17:51) Anonymised: You mean u talk about the transplant in a sauna?
(15:18:13) Roy: yes, hypothetically
(15:19:09) Roy: I said to a friend who is about 60, what if there was ethical approval for a terminally ill person to give a sibling with dodgy liver his/her own liver as part of the euthanasia, like live organ donor, pre-death
(15:45:36) Anonymised: Yes bro, just like last Monday..
(15:47:13) Anonymised: The patient donor is an road traffic accident victim, which is brain dead so the family gives the consent for organ retrieval but not all of his organ.
(15:48:41) Roy: oh, how timely a conversation I had… although the hypothetical situation I described was terminal cancer and the receiver perhaps a heavy drinker
(15:49:56) Anonymised: Here in SG, those who sign to be a donor and if time will come that they have an accident or they got terminal sickness the family are prepared that he or she will donate his or her organ..and the recipients here are listed…
(15:51:14) Roy: i am registered here
(15:52:45) Anonymised: If the donor dies of cancer, I’m not sure if they will retrieve the organs coz they will check the laboratory works like blood if they matches too then they will decide if they can do the transplant
(15:53:28) Anonymised: So, you have a donor card
(15:53:45) Roy: assuming the tumour has not spread to the donated organ and the donation is between siblings, I thought…
(15:54:02) Roy: Anyway, i carry my donor card in my wallet, to be on the safe side (time is valuable)
(15:56:13) Anonymised: Between siblings, still need to undergo check of blood groups and laboratory check up they need to be sure it matches..ESP. Kidney which is very sensitive organ
(16:09:12) Roy: Oh, see that’s where I don’t have sufficient knowledge.

Perhaps one day we’ll be able not only to breed replacements through pigs (which in itself is controversial as it devalues the life of other animals) but also people whose chance of survival is too slim and desire to help others is greater than to have a few more days of living agony.

All these issues, like depopulation or stem cells and abortion, are understandably controversial. I rarely discuss them.

Next Year Should be Better

New year 2013

NEXT Monday is my birthday, so I shall be on an early vacation until shortly after Xmas (probably December 28th). I can be reached by few common ‘social’ methods and I will keep an eye on E-mail too. This post might be the last one for this year, so here’s signing with my train of thought.

A few months ago I found an essicient way to keep up with news online, write articles (on my tablet for the most part), and still find time to hang out with friends, sleep sufficiently, exercise a lot, do my full-time job, and spend a lot of time with the wife. Next year I expect to have even more time (than this year) for online activities, which hopefully means that this blog too should become more active. With the recent rebuilding of the homepage I also hope to take my company further. All of that activity does not cause stress or burnout. It’s all about how one manages one’s life.

My 8-year-old PDA recently died. I tried to achieve fast recovery, but it’s impossible to redeem or mend the darn thing even by opening up the chassis. I ordered a new one (identical to it); yes, I owe my productivity to Palm PDAs and I found no adequate alternatives for Android. Since my aunt in Florida bought me one over a decade I have managed to multi-task at micro and macro level, especially the latter, meaning that taking on many things at once remained manageable. Writing online is actually a hobby, but this hobby has proven to be of much value in the sense that it brings good and offers contentment. It is still my most cherished activity. Increasingly I find that friends of mine wish they could do the same thing (if they had the time).

One BIllion YouTube Views

Yes, of course it’s “PSY – GANGNAM STYLE”. YouTube seems to count just direct views (not embedded), but for Psy it is approaching a billion direct views, which is unprecedented. Now the count is at 937,926,575. It would be nice to see mass broadcast overridden by free streaming over the Web.

“Do You Believe We Came From Monkeys?”

No, I didn’t ask that, but sometimes people ask me that. You too may have come across people who ask that question. Here is my typical, respectable verbal response (I wrote the text below quickly in one pass), which is likely to spread reason into people who are more resistant to it. Being rude is counter-productive.

A hypothetical response would go like this. No, we did not come from monkeys. I don’t believe that and neither should you. You have definitely heard or read a deliberate misrepresentation of what Evolution is. Monkeys and us have common ancestors; in that sense, we have very, very distant cousins. Let us explain how scale reconciles the apparent complexity of this statement. The tree of life connects all forms of life, leading back to life’s origin (and going billions of years back in time). We’ll start at the micro level.

You and your siblings have two common ancestors, assuming a common family structure. You and your cousins share at least a grandparent, i.e. one common ancestor or more. You therefore are likely to have some similarities. Now, imagine going further back 4 generations or about 100 years. A lot of nearby humans share common ancestors with you (from around that time). You might not even know those common ancestors. Now, think of 1,000 years instead of 100 and probably everyone around you has common ancestors with you. Go back 10,000 and the complexity is vast, but almost everyone alive today is somehow connected to you. Going much further back, prior to the origin of what we call “humans” (over 100,000 years ago), one can find common ancestors with other apes, ones we call “monkeys”, which were fit enough to survive in their present form. They are actually very good at what they do, but we cannot grasp this because we are ego-centric in the species sense. We fail to see their unique skills like climbing tress, cooperating, using basic tools and even communicating. Evolution takes us much further back in time (billions of years, not a million or less), tying everything together. DNA evidence helps validate Darwin’s theory as fact, just like the theory of gravity. Believe it or not, all trees are your very, very distant cousins. That’s a beautiful fact, isn’t it?

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