to save others

There are those who do more than we. There are those who give more than we. There are those who save a wretch like me.

Unfortunately, I must report that four such people are dead and six others are injured after two attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.1 The World Health Organization’s executive director for health emergencies is quoted as saying “We grieve for them as we would for one our own. We are heartbroken that they died as they worked to save others.” They join the ever growing ranks of the dead in the region.

I mourn for all those lost. I mourn for those who saved.

1. To date, “health workers and infrastructure have been attacked 386 times with seven people killed and 77 wounded.

Questions to ponder on cities

  1. Who are you and where are you from?
  2. Dye (2008) notes that “urbanization is associated with falling birth and death rates and with the shift in burden of illness from acute childhood infections to chronic, noncommunicable diseases of adults”. With more than half the world’s population already living in urban areas, should we try to convince the other half to move to “the city”? Should there be more or less people(s) living “the city”? More or less people(s) living in the world?
  3. What fears do you have in the exasperation of differences between rich and poor individuals?
  4. “City dwellers”, Dye tells us, “are comparatively wealthy and lead more sedentary lives with easier access to low-cost, low-fiber, high-energy, high-fat food.” To what extent should the nutritional content of a city be regulated by city officials/representatives? What about other health surrogates (such as activity levels, vaccination schedules, etc.)?
  5. Traffic accidents kill over one million children and adults each year, mostly in urban centers. Along with the leveling of environments and the polluting of air, there are hazards to health by mere writ of cities’ existence. How can we mitigate their effects? How can maximize the benefits of the city (to both urban and rural residents)?
  6. Blustein & Fleischman (2004) identify three features – density, diversity, and disparity – affecting the health of urban populations.
    1. To what extent does the density of a population determine moral actions?
    2. “Is there an obligation to respect the cultural values of individuals even if the traditions and practices that give those values their content are in conflict with the dominant ethical norms” of a city in which the individual exists?
    3. Disparate outcomes of health/care correlate to poverty and its consequent lack of access. (“[R]acial and ethnic variations are also independent factors in determining disparate outcomes.”) How can we alleviate these disparities? When will we?
  7. Can a city get too big? Too small? Just right?
  8. Milgram (1970) suggests several “adaptive mechanisms” urban dwellers adopt to deal with the “overload” experienced in cities, including allocating less time to others, disregarding “low-priority inputs” (such as “the drunk sick on the street”), and social burden shifting (e.g., welfare departments, bus drivers no longer offering change, etc.). Given the superficiality, anonymity, and transitory nature of many urban interactions, do cities facilitate “the best of all possible worlds”? Are we our best selves in the city?
  9. When talking about “the city”, one is implicitly talking about “the country”. What is to be said about it, explicitly?
  10. Are cities “natural”?
  11. Are cities necessary for democracy? Does “Western liberalism” require cities?
  12. Many facets of bioethics get brought up in these discussions including clinical ethics (obligations of physicians, rights of patients), research ethics (responsibilities of researchers, protections of subjects), institutional ethics (organizations as moral agents), and public health ethics (populations as the dimension of interest). To this, for cities, we may consider further environmental ethics as issues, such as food safety, water filtration, and “waste” “disposal”, arise with regularity. Are inhabitants of cities in a position to ethically decide how their local environment is altered? What about the world’s? How shall we face our changing climate(s)?
  13. Quo vadis?

A Peculiar Medical Condition

I highlight for those looking for it, another embodiment of the biomedical condition. From the recent public questioning of one of the final monarchies and his peculiar relationship with one known, convicted, and now dead billionaire sex offender. Explaining how he knows to be false an allegation against him of sexual misconduct with a minor, he emphasizes “a peculiar medical condition” of which he is once and future sufferer. I quote in full, verbatim.

Q. So you’re absolutely certain about being home on the tenth of March?

A. Yes.

Q. She was very specific about that night. She described dancing with you and you profusely sweating and that she went on to have a bath possibly.

A. There’s a—there’s a—there’s a slight problem with—with—with—with—with the sweating, um, because, uh, I—I—I have a peculiar m-medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time and that was — or was she? — yes, I didn’t sweat at the time because I, um, h-h-had suffered from what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at and, uh, I simply, it was—it was—it was—it was almost impossible for me t-to sweat. And it’s only because I have done a number of things in the recent past that I’m starting to be able to do that again. So I’m afraid to say that—that—that—that—that there is a medical condition that says I didn’t do it so therefore…

Time stamped embed.


Questions to ponder on body politics

  1. Who are you and does the government care?
  2. What are the proper roles of a government to the health/wealth of the governed?
  3. “The most vocal contributions to the ethical debates, Takala (2017) says, “tend to be either strongly against or adamantly for the new technologies. This tendency is furthered by the popular media, which prefers headline material.” Does the sensational tend to senses? Does it tend to “make sense”?
  4. “Research is suggesting,” Rich & Evans (2005) suggest “that people are obtaining health information not just from traditional medical sources but from newspapers, magazines, television etc.” Should the government regulate the transmission of medical/health information from these sources? 
  5. Politics in just about any context seems to be divisive, eliciting strong emotions and lowered rationales. How can we effectively discuss politics?
  6. Why/Are women’s bodies disproportionally controlled by governments?
  7. What legitimate interest does a government/state have in the health of its population? To whom can you appeal if a State is genuinely bad for your health?
  8. HUD Secretary Julian Castro recently remarked in a debate, “[J]ust because a woman — or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female — is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.” Should trans females have the right to have an abortion?
  9. Inherent to the practice of government is the (at least veiled) threat of “legitimated” violence – e.g., don’t pay your taxes, get brought to court; run from the police, get tazed by them; hurt someone, get hurt back. How do we ensure that such threats of/violence is indeed legitimate? How do we ensure it is righteous?
  10. What, if anything, should the government do on the following debated topics:
    • Compulsory vaccination of children;
    • Healthcare in general;
    • Homelessness;
    • Recreational drug use;
    • Right-to-try regulations; and
    • Right-to-die legislation?
  11. In the “heartbeat bill” (H.B. 481, “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act”), the state Georgia amended its Official Code to create “two classes of persons: natural and artificial” in which natural persons are any human being “including an unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat”. Do you believe a heartbeat – “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the heart” – a proper measure of the beginning of life? The end? How should a government demarcate?
  12. Was Thích Quảng Đức’s self-immolation of a legitimate use of political influence?
  13. Do we have more bodily liberty now than we have in the past? Will we have more in the future? In what ways? How do you know?
  14. Is our nation on the rise or the decline?