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Clark Withholds $60 Million Pledge to Stanford

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the land-of-the-religious-whackos dept.

Science 469

vocaljess writes: "In an op-ed piece in Friday's New York Times (which you have to register to read, blah blah blah), Netscape creator Jim Clark has announced that he will withhold $60 million he had pledged to donate to Stanford University to build a center for biomedical engineering and science. He states "I believe our country risks being thrown into a dark age of medical research. Biologists are at the threshold of the most important set of discoveries in history, and rather than teach and lead, our politicians react and follow a conservative few. This legislative action will cause the United States to miss a revolution in biology.""

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469 comments

The truth about Linux' "freeness" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246106)

Let's have a close look at the costs involved when running a Linux system.

Linux' cost consists not only of the frequent updates, which require new cdrom's to be bought if you don't have a high speed Internet connection.

Another factor in Linux' cost is its maintenance. Linux requires a *lot* of maintenance, work doable only by the relatively few high-paid Linux administrators that put themselves - of course willingly - at a great place in the market. Linux seems to be needing maintenance continuously, to keep it from breaking down.

Add to this the cost of loss of data. Linux' native file system, EXT2FS, is known to lose data like a firehose spouts water when the file system isn't unmounted properly. Other unix file systems are much more tolerant towards unexpected crashes. An example is the FreeBSD file system, which with soft updates enabled, performance-wise blows EXT2FS out of the water, and doesn't have the negative drawback of extreme data loss in case of a system breakdown.

The upcoming 'solution' to this, EXT3FS, is nothing more than an ugly hack to put journaling into the file system. All the drawbacks of the ancient EXT2FS file system remain in EXT3FS, for the sake of 'forward- and backward compatibility'. This is interesting, considering that the DOS heritage in the Windows 9x/ME series was considered a very bad thing by the Linux community, even though it provided what could be called one of the best examples of compatibility, ever. When it's about Linux, compatibility constraints don't seem to be that much of a problem for Linux advocates.

Back to Linux' cost. Factor in also the fact that crashes happen much more often on Linux than on other unices. On other unices, crashes usually are caused by external sources like power outages. Crashes in Linux are a regular thing, and nobody seems to know what causes them, internally. Linux advocates try to hide this fact by denying crashes ever happen. Instead, they have frequent "hardware problems".

The steep learning curve compared to about any other operating system out there is a major factor in Linux' cost. The system is a mix of features from all kinds of unices, but not one of them is implemented right. A Linux user has to live with badly coded tools which have low performance, mangle data seemingly at random and are not in line with their specification. On top of that a lot of them spit out the most childish and unprofessional messages, indicating that they were created by 14-year olds with too much time, no talent and a bad attitude.

I could go on and on and on, but the conclusion is clear. Linux is not an option for any one who seeks a professional OS with high performance, scalability, stability, adherence to standards, etc.

Re:The truth about Linux' "freeness" (-1, Offtopic)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246136)

1. Get a high-speed net connection.


2. Use ReiserFS or XFS or one of the other journaling filesystems for Linux.


Cryptnotic


p.s., I wonder if it's Microsoft that has a troll script for Slashdot. They might contract out.

Re:The truth about Linux' "freeness" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246260)

Typical Linux invective.

When Microsoft let's you download a couple hundred KB patch, it's considered damage. On the other hand, complain about downloading multiple 600+ MB Linux distro's and you're out of line. What hypocrites.

ReiserFS is still beta quality, btw, like most of the rest of Linux.

Re:The truth about Linux' "freeness" (0, Offtopic)

Bohemoth2 (179802) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246156)

What in the world has this got to do with biomedical research? It is you who seems the imature linux bashing 14 year old.

Re:The truth about Linux' "freeness" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246168)

please explain to how old cdrom drives wont work without fast internet connections.

Also, Linux has support for cdrom drives that are not IDE or SCSI(I guess really old cdrom drives had proprietary controllers).

Another factor in Linux' cost is its maintenance. Linux requires a *lot* of maintenance, work doable only by the relatively few high-paid Linux administrators that put themselves - of course willingly - at a great place in the market. Linux seems to be needing maintenance continuously, to keep it from breaking down.

I don't need to maintain my Linux servers to keep them from breaking down. Right now, my NAT box(2.4.9 kernel) running Linux has an uptime of 12 days 19 hours, and my DNS/DHCP server(2.2.13 kernel) running Linux has an uptime of 19 days 21 hours.

The longest uptime I've had with my NAT box was 48 days. It has never crashed, the reason I took it offline was because the power went out and I didn't want it to lose power so I shut it off before the battery backup died.

Re:The truth about Linux' "freeness" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246271)

Right now, my NAT box(2.4.9 kernel) running Linux has an uptime of 12 days 19 hours, and my DNS/DHCP server(2.2.13 kernel) running Linux has an uptime of 19 days 21 hours.

The longest uptime I've had with my NAT box was 48 days.

You think 12, 19 or 48 days are an accomplishment? ROFL. You REALLY don't know anything outside your little Linux world, don't you?

Please come back when your older, the big people are talking now.

Comparison to windows 98 (NT): (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246192)

The costs of windows 98 and NT:

Cost 1: You have to buy it

Cost 2: Windows 98 equires frequent updates, availiable via highspeed on windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Normal users will find they have to re-run the update procedure on each machine to keep it updated. (NT Requires service pack CD-ROMS or downloading).

Cost 3: FAT is known to self destruct when programs go awry. Rather than losing a few files, this destroys your entire hard-drive and will require starting everything you have ever done on the machine that hasn't been backed up all over again. Older NT installations limited NTFS to 2 GB which is so pathetic it would be difficult to lose any large proportion of data. Newer NT installations will allow more space, similar to using ReiserFS on linux.

The performance of the easily destroyed FAT is higher than NTFS, leaving you with the decision: Performance or safety?

Cost 4: You cannot use a partition of larger than 2 GB with any older microsoft operating system. You also cannot use a hard drive larger than 64 GB without updates for most microsoft operating systems coming off the shelves right now. When it comes to windows compatibility constraints don't seem to be that much of a problem, since you just have to keep buying new software.

Cost 5: Crashes happen so often in windows that there are many photographs of downed outdoor signs running the OS. No one really knows what causes them, or else such a huge public problem would have been fixed. These crashes cost advertisers in lost "eyeball time".

Cost 6: The learning curce for someone going from CPM or DOS to windows is enormous. You have to live with a poor and difficult to use GUI which is known to randomly do different things [try dragging files about one day]. On top of that by using windows you are likely to spam slashdot with "use a real UNIX rather than Linux" like a 12 year old with too much time, the worst attitude, the talent of a gnat, and the experience of a know-it-all-but-never-done-it.

I'd go on but the conclusion is clear, Windows is not an option for people seeking a professional OS with anything whatsoever.

Re:Comparison to windows 98 (NT): (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246225)

That's about the silliest rebuttal I have ever seen. FAT may not be the most advanced file systems out there, but your talk about its alleged self destruction is ridiculous. I've been using FAT in its various forms for over 15 years now, and none of this crap occurred.

It seems to me you are just frustrated because you know he's right in many cases. Just swallow it and live on.

And this helps by doing what? (4, Insightful)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246110)

So he's pissed at Bush for his descision (or indescision, if you take it that way) on stem cell research and how he see's conservatism effecting biological advances, so he doesn't give money to a college to biolgy research in protets? This doesn't make sense. Maybe if he gave his money to a college in Britain that has much more liberal stances on, well, everything. That might start to get the attention of people and make a statement. But this just seems stupid.

F-bacher

Re:And this helps by doing what? (3, Insightful)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246140)

Boy, you said it. Doesn't this read like, "Things aren't going my way in this game, so I'm going to pick up my ball and go home?" It seems like a childish response.

If he's really concerned, he could spend that money on lobbying efforts and on educating the public. Because that's what the problem is; in a world of too much information, people only see the surface of the issues, and then talk about them as if they're experts. I'm as guilty of this as everyone else is. You'll find that just about everyone has an opinion on stem cell research, but very, very few know anything about it.

Withholding the money strikes me as the worst course of action he could possibly have taken, outside of buying advertising time on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. He should still give that money to Stanford; even if they aren't able to use it for stem cell research directly, they can use it to spearhead educational efforts to help correct popular misconceptions. I don't say that out of love for Stanford (I have none -- my two favorite football teams are UT-Austin and whoever is playing Stanford), but out of more idealistic concerns.

Two wrongs don't make a right. Someone should have told him that.

Re:And this helps by doing what? (5, Insightful)

blamanj (253811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246183)

If he's really concerned, he could spend that money on lobbying efforts and on educating the public.

No, he's much smarter than that. By withholding (note that he hasn't canceled or revoked the grant) the money, he's created an incredible amount of press and discussion, probably far more than he could spend on fattening up congresscritters and their lobbyists.

Plus, he can renew the debate at any time by giving the grant money to a university in Europe instead of to Stanford, which would really pack a politcal punch. I think he's a pretty smart guy, he gets the lobbying and press relations for free and can still spend the money on the research he originally intended to support.

Re:And this helps by doing what? (2, Insightful)

djRobbieB (208620) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246256)

If you had $60 million dollars, and you were going to *give it* to a cause you felt strongly about, but then you felt that, due to the political situation, your $60 million dollars wasn't going to be well-used... wouldn't YOU find another way to spend it?

Re:And this helps by doing what? (3, Interesting)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246268)

We're talking about a man who has second thoughts about donating $60 million because he doesn't think they will come to use in the way he wants it to.

And you're critisizing him?

Heck, I'm having second thoughts about donating $5 without being pretty damn sure that they will come to good use. Dunno about you, but I can't really be upset with anyone who doesn't want to part with $60 million without being pretty damn sure they will be used in a way s/he finds acceptable.

Re:And this helps by doing what? (1)

Radrik (79810) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246167)

If he just kept the money flowing and wrote an article on how he felt, no one would care. Withholding the money isn't because he has a grudge, it's to get people's attention. This was the smartest move he could make.

On another note, I think this was a horrible post. The quote was just sort of thrown in there without any rhyme or reason. That's my rant.

-Mark

Re:And this helps by doing what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246205)

It's just retarded. Bush limits federal funding for stem cell research. Clark can give his own personal money for stem cell research. But to protest Bush's decision, Clark makes a decision that EXECARBATES the problem he's complaining about! What a load of bullshit.

I am so tired (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246113)

I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I'm supposed to be writing a postgraduate essay this weekend.

What the hell should I do?

Re:I am so tired (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246224)

Trash that postgraduate essay and spend this weekend posting ASCII-art on Slashdot.

When tired, get drunk, have some sex, then come back crapflooding Slashdot.

this calls for... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246118)

A NEWS PIECE!

Slashdot website creator, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, was rushed to the hospital this afternoon after having his penis sliced off. Authorities say the accident involved Rob's penis, his computer, and an illegal computer device imported from China that was designed to stimulate the penis during cyber-sex. The authorities aren't releasing many details yet as to how it happened, but they suspect that the device malfunctioned which caused his penis to be sliced off. However, there is speculation among the Slashdot community that the Open Source Operating System "Linux" is to blame, for its faulty structure and lack of professional development. There is no word of whether there was any foul-play involved from hackers amongst the Linux community.

Re:this calls for... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246127)

A RINGPIECE!

Slashdot website creator, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, was rushed to the hospital this afternoon after having his anus dilated. Authorities say the accident involved Rob's anus, his computer, and an illegal computer device imported from China that was designed to stimulate the prostrate during cyber-sex. The authorities aren't releasing many details yet as to how it happened, but they suspect that the device malfunctioned which caused his anus to be distended off the scale. However, there is speculation among the Slashdot community that the Open Source Operating System "Linux" is to blame, for its faulty structure and lack of professional development. There is no word of whether there was any foul-play involved from hackers amongst the Linux community.

Applause... (2, Flamebait)

kypper (446750) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246119)

Biologists are at the threshold of the most important set of discoveries in history, and rather than teach and lead, our politicians react and follow a conservative few.


Jesus, he's one of us.
Finally, someone who stands up for science instead of politics.
Course, one has to consider he's MAKING politics by doing this. ^_~

Re:Applause... (2)

Blue Neon Head (45388) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246139)

"Course, one has to consider he's MAKING politics by doing this. ^_~"

He's not making politics. The politics was already there; sadly, that's the way things work. We should be glad that money found its way into the hands of someone more enlightened who is willing to make an important point with it.

Alternate coverage (2, Informative)

Troodon (213660) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246123)

BBCNews have covered this [bbc.co.uk] ,
which also forms part of one of their 'indepth' news anaylsis.
They also have a link to Stanford where their president has issued his responce [stanford.edu] .

He is going about this the wrong way (1)

ispq (301273) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246124)

Sciences need more money, not less. Next time he should just hold a press conference and talk about the issue rather than by with-holding money.

The USA is doomed anyways (0, Flamebait)

FFFish (7567) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246128)

I just got back from Europe. I was flabbergasted with how advanced some of the telecommunications technology is. The USA is in the goddamn stone ages as far as cell, PDA, and television is concerned.

Looks like it's about to be the same in biotechnology. And, hell, with the dumb patent shenanigans that are pretty much squelching innovation, it wouldn't surprise me if there are other technologies that are also being held back in the USA. (Automobiles could be one: the Europeans have some stuff that's pretty damn sweet. And some of the public transit is way better than anything in the US...)

Could be a pretty damn fast trip to third-world status.

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246141)

Why don't you go back and live there, then?

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (1, Offtopic)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246218)

I've seen this attitude so many times I'll bite.

I'll head to Europe... but I'll be taking my share of the high tech stuff with me. The people who want to create a Christian Sharia can do so with the technology it creates. Historically, that's the dark ages of Europe, although I'm sure we can find it in our hearts to let you live at least as well as the Amish today.

But no TV or radio or telephones, damn it, because there's nothing in the Good Book about electrons. No remote power generation, no internal combustion engines, no antibiotics.

This sounds harsh, but we're not the ones who are trying to make this an "all or nothing" proposition.

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (0, Offtopic)

arfy (236686) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246219)

Possibly because of the restrictive immigration and work-permit rules. And the increased competition to get into selected EU countries. It's getting harder to get in.

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (1, Funny)

HomerJS (192001) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246162)

Please don't tell me they have flying cars! I'd be really annoyed.

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246243)

It's because American consumers aren't as quick to blow their money and these gadgets as they are in Europe. We DO have the BEST healthcare available in the world and our scientists DO LEAD the world in research that's worthwhile. I do not consider cloning or embryonic stem cell research to be worthwhile so we are doing OK.

No, it's certainly not worthwhile (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246264)

I do not consider cloning or embryonic stem cell research to be worthwhile so we are doing OK.

Personally, I didn't consider Penicillin to be worthwhile to medical science. I also though solid-state electronics was a big waste of time. We had perfectly good tubes, and Sulfa drugs were very promising, right?

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246269)

We DO have the BEST healthcare available in the world

For those who can afford to pay for it, yes. That's not much of a "system".

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (1, Offtopic)

stripes (3681) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246266)

I was flabbergasted with how advanced some of the telecommunications technology is. The USA is in the goddamn stone ages as far as cell, PDA, and television is concerned.

Hmmmm. I've ben to the UK, and they are "ahead" in cell phones in as much as they are all GSM, no old analog system left (or maybe none was deployed, thus the quick uptake on the newer system). It was also nice that they run their GSM at about 900Mhz so it works through walls and plants and stuff way better then here. Land line phones didn't seem any more advanced. Did you notice differently?

They didn't seem any more advanced in PDAs, in fact I think I saw fewer PDAs there then here (that was about two years ago though). So what seemed more advanced when you were there?

TVs didn't seem a bit different, but I didn't spend any real amount of time watching them, I was out at the pubs. The beer there I can state is clearly more advanced then ours. So how did their TV seem more advanced then ours?

We still have a few tricks up our sleeve (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246267)

For all practical purposes, we invented and built up the computer as we know it today. And darn it, we know how they work. Our strength lies in our engineers, hackers, Microsoft programmers, etc. The Japanese and Europeans may have their PDAs, dedicated set-top boxes, and cell phones with video screens, but we have a love affair with our 4,500 lb. turbocharged 5.9L V10 computer. As long as some of our script kiddies eventually grow out that larval stage, we'll be the kings of computers.

Re:The USA is doomed anyways (0, Offtopic)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246304)

Why does our public transportation system suck ? Blame the automobile industry. Why would they want people to pay X to ride a bus around when they REALLY SHOULD have their own auto (with all the associated wear and tear/etc.)..

The US is interested in itself. Nothing more. Why do you think our TV industry (VHS/NTSC) isn't compatible with the rest of the world (PAL) ? Whe6y do you think regional encoding came to be ?

Control. They want us to see the drivil that they want us to see, nothing more.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

tshak (173364) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246131)

Driven by ignorance, conservative thinking and fear of the unknown, our political leaders have undertaken to make laws that suppress this type of research.

Ok, so if you are liberal, your thoughts are OK because you are OPEN. But if you are conservative, you're thinking is CLOSED? If you're open to diversity of opinion, then you must accept ALL types of thinking! Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus. Honestly, I'm sick of people doing things "in the name of science" and calling all moral discussions "ignorant". I don't stand on either side of the stem cell issue, as I have yet to fully understand the moral implications (if any). However, I would say that it's ignorant to scoff those who are attempting to excercise discernment.

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246154)

Well, yes, I'd say that if you're "liberal" by your standards and want to trust people and society to navigate difficult moral ground, yes, that's "open."

That's versus "closed," or the conservative vision that government should step in and use the threat of force to coerce individual or social moral decisions. It still hasn't dawned on conservatives (and many liberals, to be fair) that *there may be no one "proper" moral code*.

Yes, there are legitimate moral issues surrounding stem cell research. No, government has no business taking those moral choices away from researchers, academics, and everyday joes.

So yes, the quote you selected is 100% fair. Bush was driven by conservative thinking and fear of the unknown.

-b

Re:Huh? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246174)

the conservative vision that government should step in and use the threat of force to coerce individual or social moral decisions

I believe that both sides are guilty of this, but individuals of either persuasion only notice when the other side does it because it forces things that they don't agree with.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246157)

If you're open to diversity of opinion, then you must accept ALL types of thinking! Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus.


Bullshit. Bush was struggling with some political issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetuses. Now, the people who put him in a position of having to care may have real moral objections to stem cell research, but I wouldn't attribute such thoughts to Bush.

Re:Huh? (2)

geophile (16995) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246159)

Well that's not saying anything because the guy struggles to read his box of breakfast cereal.

His struggle with the moral issues is bullshit.
His decision was pure politics. He threw science a bone while appealing to his Taliban base.

If he was truly concerned about the poor embryos, and the sanctity of life, why not ban in vitro
fertilization and come out against abortion?

Re:Huh? (1)

mjprobst (95305) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246235)

I agree with what you're trying to say here, but you got one minor detail wrong.

<humor-impaired satire=TRUE pov="G. W. Bush">
The Taliban are not his base. The Taliban consists of dark-skinned, idolatrist, statue-smashing _bad_ fundamentalists. Those for-igg-in-erz are in league with Satan and deserve whatever missiles we send in their direction.


His base consists rather of white, conservative, G*D-fearing _good_ fundamentalists.
</humor-impaired>


See the difference? Other than that, I agree with you.

Re:Huh? (1)

mz001b (122709) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246166)

then you must accept ALL types of thinking! Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus

It was my understanding that not all of the stem cells (or even a majority) came from people getting abortions. I believe the vast majority come from fetuses that were created for people having trouble conceiving. Eggs are harvested, fetuses are created, kept on ice, and a few are implanted. If the procedure was successful, the remaining 'backup' fetuses are destroyed.

In my opinion, I would prefer that those remaining fetuses be used for research, in the hopes that they can be used to save someone else. It sure beats destroying them. Perhaps we can allow people to decide what happens to their own fetuses, much like we require permission for organ donations.

Re:Huh? (1)

geckoFeet (139137) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246169)

Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus.



Aborted fetuses have nothing to do with this. Period. Does that end the discussion?



No? Bush was struggling with the political fallout from^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the difficult moral question of eggs which were fertilized in laboratories. Now, your average female of breeding age flushes dozens of fertilized eggs down the toilet every month, or maybe chucks them in the trash. Very, very, very few fertilized eggs actually wind up becoming babies. If it were possible to strain menstrual blood for fertilized eggs (it isn't for a number of reasons, not all of them gross), would there be some great moral question there? I don't see it.

what the hell are you talking about? (1)

bouis (198138) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246197)

Go look up the definition of "fertilized."

Everything, literally everything is wrong.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246213)

Huh? You need to relearn your human biology, bud.

One ovum (egg) is released by a woman per menstrual cycle. When the egg is released into the fallopian tube, her body releases progesterone, which tells her ovaries not to release another one for the duration of the cycle. Sometimes the timing is not quite right, and a 2nd egg gets released before the progesterone can stop it. If the 2nd egg gets fertilized (along with the 1st egg), you end up with fraternal twins. Fertilized eggs (zygotes) travel down the fallopian tube and eventually implant in the uterine wall. It's rare that a fertilized egg does not get implanted. It's also rare that an egg does indeed get fertilized.

By the way, "the pill" works by monkeying with the progesterone and estrogen levels in a woman's body, convincing both ovaries that the woman is pregnant, and therefore convincing them not to release eggs. A woman on the pill doesn't "pass" fertilized eggs each month -- she doesn't "pass" any eggs at all.

Re:Huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246251)

Do not listen to this one... he is not with us...

Re:Huh? (1)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246172)

Actually, the stem cells were not from fetuses, but rather from frozen embryos which were produced for artificial insemination. The embryos were unused.


I'm kind of the opinion that even if the embryo is a "life", we should destroy them anyway. Some of the conservative morons say that destroying these embryos is morally equivalent to the Nazis killing millions of Jews in the years leading up to World War II. I disagree. There is a difference. These embryos can't fight back or even argue in their defense. Therefore, we can destroy them with impunity. :-)


Cryptnotic

What a load of crap... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246194)

Destroy with complete impunity? I wonder if YOU would have had the chance to answer that when you were first conceived. For once, try to think of what it would be like if YOU were on the receiving end. This is both selfish and typical of the attitudes on this site.

Re:What a load of crap... (1)

Emugamer (143719) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246277)

Destroy with complete impunity? I wonder if YOU would have had the chance to answer that when you were first conceived. For once, try to think of what it would be like if YOU were on the receiving end. This is both selfish and typical of the attitudes on this site
Not being alive enough to care or even think about it I personally wouldn't have minded.... I enjoy life as it is but I don't think that my soul would have been chop suey if my embro wasn't allowed to grow...
of course thats only my selfish and typical attitude.

Re:Huh? (2)

ruin (141833) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246204)

Ok, so if you are liberal, your thoughts are OK because you are OPEN. But if you are conservative, you're thinking is CLOSED?

Pretty much. If you're conservative, in the sense of being resistant to change, then your thoughts are more likely to get stuck somewhere bad just because you don't want to change them.

If you're open to diversity of opinion, then you must accept ALL types of thinking!

Do I *really* have to point out what's wrong with that statement? Valuing knowledge means "accepting" (whatever that means) thinking might lead you to some useful new knowledge. Usually this means being more open minded than the average Amoral Majority member, although if you want to put it that way, it doesn't mean you must accept anything you deem to be incorrect. (Keeping in mind that you could be wrong, of course.)

Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus. Honestly, I'm sick of people doing things "in the name of science" and calling all moral discussions "ignorant".

There are informed moral discussions and there are ignorant moral discussions. Bush is considering whether or not it's okay to destroy the magical invisible souls of these precious groups of cells. He's decided that it's not okay, but he does concede the benefit of utilizing the already existing stem cells.

I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine whether this is an informed moral discussion or not.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

gnovos (447128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246238)

Bush (not my favorite president to say the least) was struggling with some legitimate moral issues regarding stem cells from aborted fetus.

I'm sure he was. In the same way that the pope must have felt about birth control pills or condoms and the witch hunters felt in the early 1400's...

One thing I'm trying to say is that, despite the definitions that you grow up believeing, "morality" is not a static force. It is mutable just like everything else. Someday we will use genetic engineering on a daily basis and not even think twice about it. It will be as moral as apple pie and baseball. In that future era we will think our current debates are silly in the same way that you and I think the debates on the morality of dancing and the reports of witchcraft are silly. By then we will be having new and intersting debates of "morality", still thinking that it is an unchanging imperative.

Half of our planet will think that using faster than light travel to seed the galaxy is a wonderful thing while the rest think that it goes against God's plan (A popular quote from that future time, "If God had meant humans to travel faster than the speed of light, he would have given us phaseo-transducers.") of humans living only on Earth.

And in some future weblog this exact same argument will be made again... :)

Pure science is the ultimate morality. Give it freedom.

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

neoptik (130091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246321)

Hey, I have an idea. You are opposed to stem cell research?


Alright. You start taking insulin shots in the stomach. 3-7 times a day. Oh, you also have to prick your fingers every time you want to eat. While you are at it, get Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis.


Then you can tell me that the moral grounds are wrong.

for the last time... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246133)

slashdot editors: please make the nytimes URLs link to the page that doesn't need registration.


Here [nytimes.com] is the link to the story that you don't have to register to see


what sort of response will this generate . . . (1)

mz001b (122709) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246134)

It will be interesting to see what sort of response this letter generates. What he appears to be waiting for is a firm decision from Congress and the President. If they should decide against his wished, I assume that he will withhold his money. If they do an about face and expand the types of research that can be federally funded, then Standford wil lget the remainder of the check. The question is, How important is Stanford getting the remainder of this check to the government? I assume the congressman/woman representing Stanford's district will voice some concern, but I cannot imagine this having all that much of an input.

If more and more people started coming out like this, then prehaps we would start to see some change. It is a very well written letter and brings up some good points. He is absolutely right that the absence of federal $$ could crush this field in the US.

Re:what sort of response will this generate . . . (1)

Portax (34104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246152)

It might cause a chain of people doing the same to "boycott" the government's decision. Who knows, maybe he has a couple of friends who are lining up to do the same thing that we don't know about. Who knows how effective that would be, though.

Re:what sort of response will this generate . . . (1)

mz001b (122709) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246175)

It might cause a chain of people doing the same to "boycott" the government's decision. Who knows, maybe he has a couple of friends who are lining up to do the same thing that we don't know about. Who knows how effective that would be, though.

I think the best chance it has to work is if several other high profile boycotts come out shortly. I fear that even though $60 million is a lot of money to me, it is not enough to perturb Congress.

Sad, sad... (1)

Trekologer (86619) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246135)

Its sad that this has to happen, but maybe it will send a message to the public. The problem with most of our (in USia) government is that it is more concerned with preserving the status quo, not for helping (or at least not hindering) true inovation and discoveries.

It is my belief that if God had not intended for us to make discoveries via stem cell research (or insert your favorite "That research is against God's will!" here), then He would not have given us the intelligence to do so. I don't think using genetic engineering to create "designer children" is right but I do think that preventing that same research, that could discover cures to diseases, is wrong.

Oh, and here's the article [nytimes.com] , login free.

Which is more annoying? (0, Redundant)

tswinzig (210999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246137)

The fact that Slashdot posts links to www.nytimes.com instead of archive.nytimes.com?

Or the fact that they always repeat the completely redundant "registration is required blah blah blah." Guess what? We know this already. And if you don't know it, you'll find out as soon as you click on the fucking link!

And what exactly is the point of not using the archive.nytimes.com link? It's not like you're doing NYTimes a favor, since one of the firsts +5 posts is ALWAYS someone giving the direct link to archive.nytimes.com!

Give us a frigging break!

HERE WE GO AGAIN! [nytimes.com]

FOR THOSE WITHOUT AN NY TIMES ACCOUNT (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246143)

User: slashdot_reader
password: slashdot

still works, I just tired it.

Convenient excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246148)

"Netscape creator"... dude probably doesn't have $60, let alone $60 million. This gives a nice out for him.

Re:Convenient excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246242)

He probably has billions still from just SGI. He didn't only start Netscape..

What he is really saying. (2, Insightful)

notext (461158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246149)

He is saying biotechnology is the next big thing. He is gonna donate this money, then get federal funding for the research and then patent everything that comes from it and make billions of dollars.

I personally like the ol G Dubya's stand. The big compainies only want the federal funding for research so they don't have to spend the money, yet they still get the patents.

If all these big companies think its sooooo important to have more than these 60 stem cells why don't they fork over the money for the research? Last I saw these companies weren't hurting for money, yet they had plenty of patents.

Sounds to me (-1, Troll)

egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246160)

Hey this sounds to me like Jim Clarke's stocks aren't doing so well. Now he's just found a silly little platform to justify hanging onto $60 million. What a fucking ass.

If the gub'nent can't do it, no one can! (1)

Silverhammer (13644) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246163)

When the government cuts funding, the private sector inevitably picks up the slack for anything worthwhile. That's how capitalism works.

So, if Clark's temper tantrum is representative of the private sector, stem cell research must not be all that worthwhile...

Re:If the gub'nent can't do it, no one can! (1)

agusus (470745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246236)

Yeah, yeah, that claim has been made before and it is simply wrong because it is too simplistic.
Biomedical research takes a long time to get an actual product - 10 to 15 years or more. Profitable stem cell results could be even further away. With the state the economy is currently in, do you think biomed companies are going to sink millions of dollars into a hole when they won't see returns for over 15 years? Their stockholders certainly wouldn't be happy about a decision like that...

You're missing a basic economic concept - what supports the general good of society, does not always support the profitability of a single company. This is sort of a type of negative externality. The amount of privately funded research will not be close to the amount that would benefit society as a whole.

Get a grip! (3, Insightful)

klevin (11545) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246171)

What really chaps my hide about this whole debate is that both sides seem to be deliberately ignoring the the fact that human embryos are not the only source of human stem cells. Proponents of stem cell research instist that only embryonic stem cells will do, and don't want to be bothered with researching the viability of stems cells taken from adults or the placenta and/or umbilical cord of new-born babies. Those who oppose the use of embyonic stem cells often blindly lump the other sources of stem cells right in with them.

In the end, we end up with perfectly legitimate means of aquiring stem cells being ignored, because both sides have gotten on their high horses and, instead of working with researchers and ethicists to find a way to achive the goals without destroying/killing embryos*.

This is what happens when a scientific and/or ethical issue (there doesn't seem to be too many scientific issues that aren't also wrapped up in ethical issues) enter the real of politics. All reasonableness and willingness to act for both the physical and ethical/moral well-being of others goes out the window. It becomes and issue of power and who will dominate who.

* And I don't buy the, "well, they were going to be gotten rid of anyway" argument. Just because someone else was going to kill your neighbor down the street if you didn't doesn't mean it's ok for you to go ahead and do it.

Re:Get a grip! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246189)

bothered with researching the viability of stems cells taken from adults or the placenta and/or umbilical cord of new-born babies

1) That's not nearly as cool.
2) It's hard to produce the necessary quantities of cells that way.

Wow... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246221)

I'm impressed that I read a /. post on this subject that didn't bash Bush on his supposed illiteracy or intelligence or moral questioning (if they were so smart, why aren't they president?), or ignore the important questions like why we HAVE to use a certain type of stem cell. Very well put post, I wish it could be modded up...

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246282)

(if they were so smart, why aren't they president?

I agree. He may conceal it very well, but it's clear that George Bush must have an IQ of at least 180. How else could he have gotten past the grueling intelligence tests required to occupy the White House?

Re:Get a grip! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246227)

And I don't buy the, "well, they were going to be gotten rid of anyway" argument. Just because someone else was going to kill your neighbor down the street if you didn't doesn't mean it's ok for you to go ahead and do it.

Is it OK for his organs to be transplanted if he is "murdered" (by someone else)?

Uhhh, no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246273)

Not if he is going to be murdered for the specific purpose of harvesting organs.

Re:Get a grip! (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246229)

If your neighbor was only a few hundred cells big, it'd be fine to kill 'em off. Nobody thinks about killing a mouse, yet a mouse is infinitely more complex than a human embryo, with a bigger brain and more feelings to boot.

Treating an embryo as a human because it has "potential" is ridiculous. Why don't we just execute all humans because they have the "potential" to become murderers or guarantee everyone a seven-figure salary because the have the "potential" to be a CEO? This is reality. Potential doesn't count unless you start giving aid and punishment based on "potential" (which is what we're about to do -- just look at what's done in the name of crime prevention [DMCA!]).

Things are what they are. Potential is a drunken wish at best, an excuse for the totalitarian at worst. An embryo is like a fly: simple, disposable life. Anyone who equates killing an embryo with killing a 1-year-old is a reactionary living in a politically correct world.

Re:Get a grip! (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246276)

both sides seem to be deliberately ignoring the the fact that human embryos are not the only source of human stem cells.

Not. It is quite clear from research to date that embyonic stem cells are the most useful type.

It's not going to be born anyway (2)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246297)

And I don't buy the, "well, they were going to be gotten rid of anyway" argument. Just because someone else was going to kill your neighbor down the street if you didn't doesn't mean it's ok for you to go ahead and do it.
Your analogy makes no sense. You aren't accounting for the fact that the embryo is no longer a viable life form and, for a limited time, is a useful item from which to harvest parts. The situation is similar to that of a motorcycle crash victim. Would you not, with the blessing of the next of kin, harvest whatever organs you could use before they're no longer useful? Then what makes fertilized eggs so special?

Forced-birthers are too hung up on the quantity of potential life and demonstrate almost no concern about the quality of life for those who have developed nervous systems and can appreciate it. Their real concern is probably not life, but power. Religious extremists need to shut up and deal until such time as I can opt out of paying for oil wars in Saudi Arabia.

All in all, I think it's good that a leading technologist (who has done more for society than the sadistic oppressive whore [geocities.com] known as Mother Teresa) suggested that mysticism has no place in science.

-jhp

*YOUR* analogy is worthless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246329)

You're using Mother Teresa, who you in an unqualified way call a whore, based on what you read on some Geocities site, written by an Indian who seems to be of the anti-Christian type due to the conversion of many Hindus by her church. Do you think Freemasons run the world too, or that the government is hiding "alien" technology.

In short, anyone who would resort to the type of baseness as name calling without merit and uses questionable sources shouldn't be taken seriously. And guess what? I'm not Catholic, either, so I'm not defending her for that reason.

Re:Get a grip! (0, Flamebait)

neoptik (130091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246328)

14 != several trillion


That is to say that the 14 cells that comprise the stem cell bundle taken from an embryo is not the same as a fully developed human being.


Don't be a dumbass

"A conservative few..." (5, Insightful)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246176)

While you may feel one way or the other on the issue, calling the roughly 45-55% of the people in the USA known as conservatives in this country "a few" is a lie. (Big suprise, though)

I guess those "a few" get around..

Pan

Re:"A conservative few..." (2, Troll)

Tycho (11893) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246288)

Now whose numbers are those "45-55%" from, how were they gathered, how old are they and what were their methodology? Were thewse numbers from a conservative think-tank, done 6 years ago, done using push polling and were the loosest standards for "conservative" used? If so that is a useless number. I'd look at the latest elections, Gore won the popular vote, the Democrats control the Senate and control of the House is slowly slipping though the fingers of the Republicans. Getting back on topic, in the polls I heard 60% of those polled were for stem cell research.

I wish I were a billionaire... (1)

agusus (470745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246177)

When I read about stories like this, it makes me wish I were rich and could maybe help fix things in the US with large sums of money... like, here's 50 million to the EFF [eff.org] and oh, say, 100 million for stem cell lobbyists.

It'd be great if something like this happens regarding the DMCA... like maybe a software research foundation would lose funding from somewhere who doesn't like where US software laws are going.

But back to this article, I think Clark made a good decision but he shouldn't just stop here... He's needs to do something more to actually succeed in making change. And if he wants to make an even greater statement, he should send the money to a UK stem cell company. Of course, that's not a great choice because it doesn't help things here - we don't want him to give up hope on the US (even though he may be tempted to do so).

Re:I wish I were a billionaire... (3, Redundant)

notext (461158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246187)

and oh, say, 100 million for stem cell lobbyists.

Why? Why just not use the 100 million for stem cell research? I think 90% of the people don't get the fact that they are only limited to 60 stem cells for Goverment Funding. You can use as many stem cells as you would like if you get funding from somewhere else.

Why not private funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246201)

Private funding leads to patents, patents lead to closed information and closed information leads to hindered progress.

Re:Why not private funding (2, Insightful)

notext (461158) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246230)

you think those things that get government funding don't also get patented?

and the money goes where? (1)

Magik Smoke (519055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246179)

Great, so by withholding funds earmarked for education and research in the US, he advances biotechnology in the US how? I don't get it. The man holds a press conference to promote his agenda and then performs a dramatic logical contradiction. I wonder how Jim Clarks stock portfolio is doing.

I'm more pissed than Clark (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246193)

I am going to withold $100,000,000 that I planned to
give someday.


What a piker!

Look before you leap? (1)

MonkeyMAN (90389) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246198)

Yes, because it is obviously better to look at the consequences of our actions when it is too late.

Good for him (1)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246199)

It's too bad that it means $60 million less dollars for a good and worthwile project, but it certainly makes a louder statement than he could have made by just holding a press conference saying he disagreed with our governments policy. I hope it gets tons of coverage.

What ever happened to seperation of church and state, anyway?

Why should there be any laws, right? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246279)

So when murder becomes legal, your enemies can hunt you down and kill you without retribution. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Morality and order keeps society in balance and places priority on the sanctity of life and that order, whether or not you want to believe it.

Sad News... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246200)

I just heard some sad news on TV, apparently Slashdot website creator, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, was rushed to the hospital this afternoon after having his penis sliced off. Authorities say the accident involved Rob's penis, his computer, and an illegal computer device imported from China that was designed to stimulate the penis during cyber-sex. The authorities aren't releasing many details yet as to how it happened, but they suspect that the device malfunctioned which caused his penis to be sliced off. However, there is speculation among the Slashdot community that the Open Source Operating System "Linux" is to blame, for its faulty structure and lack of professional development. There is no word of whether there was any foul-play involved from hackers amongst the Linux community.

Federal Funding and Free Market (1)

themurray (78325) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246207)

If he is pissed that the research won't get much Federal handouts for stem cell research, then they need to raise funds like the rest of the world. Not begging our government, they waste enough of our money on pointless things that they should not. I would rather buy a Quake VI game instead of paying taxes with the money saved.

Re:Federal Funding and Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246214)

I would rather buy a Quake VI game instead of paying taxes with the money saved.

So, instead of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and providing medical care to the poor, you'd rather buy a Quake VI.

Glad to see you've got your priorities right like a good little robber baron capitalist.

Re:Federal Funding and Free Market (1)

taxman_10m (41083) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246319)

If you want to talk priorities then please sell your computer and buy a one way plane ticket to Angola. I hear they need help farming dirt.

Re:Federal Funding and Free Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2246320)

So, instead of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and providing medical care to the poor, you'd rather buy a Quake VI.

Yep. You've got the basic picture.

If you start from Canada or Mexico, you can probably still sneak into Cuba before the revolution's over and everybody goes home.

Don't buy it. (4, Insightful)

BrianH (13460) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246216)

Having taught electrical engineering at Stanford and benefited there from federal research funds, I can say that with no prospect of federal support, significant scientific inquiry in a field like stem cell research will stop. No research leader can forgo federal money.

Oh puhleez. There have been virtually NO federal funds spent on embryonic SCR, and that doesn't seem to have much hindered researchers so far. The TRUTH here is that these researchers saw easy, string-free government money, and now they're just pissed because it's been limited on them. Let's make the situation clear: scientists who DO NOT have the funds to continue their research have been given open funding by the government to work with the sixty specified lines as they see fit. Scientists who DO have funds can work on any cell lines they want, and do virtually anything with them. These people were thumbing it, we've offered them a free Cadillac, and now they're complaining that it's not a Mercedes...sheesh!

Could funds-free researchers do more with unlimited lines and no control? Sure they could, but when you're on the equivalent of scientific welfare you should be happy to get what you get. It is NOT the duty of the taxpayer to provide unregulated or unlimited funds to every scientist who think he can save the world...if only we'd give him a little money. Those sixty lines are as viable as any other embryonic lines currently available, and should provide a solid foundation for whatever projects those researchers may be pursuing.

Personally, I wish that Bush had added one more restriction to the pile. People like Clark are complaining because his visions of getting even wealthier were set back a bit by GW's decision. Clark, like many financial backers of SCR, were hoping to parlay early investments and later government money into huge financial gains for whatever breakthroughs they attained. MANY people in the field want to use government money to make a big breakthrough, so that they can then patent, control, and royalty-fee it to death. They want to use YOUR money to make THEM rich. Screw that. IMO, any government funding should come with the stipulation that discoveries MUST be passed into the public domain and remain royalty and patent-free. I have no interest in having MY tax dollars spent on projects designed to make people like Jim Clark richer.

Cut Off Nose to Spite Face (3, Insightful)

PRickard (16563) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246237)

The US government didn't ban stem cell research, all Bush did was prevent the government from directly funding research on new cells. Private industry and nonprofit groups can still do whatever they want with the existing or new cells, so long as they use their own funds.
That said, Clark could distribute some of his billions to those groups to make up for money the government won't be giving them. But instead he's going to have a hissy fit and withhold that cash just to draw attention to himself (if he had given, we wouldn't have seen the story here). He's cutting off his nose to spite his face; shooting himself in the left foot because he's mad someone shot him in the right. It's totally counterproductive for him to do this.
And it could be worse for him - imagine a scenario where Jim Clark was taxed at 90% and had no free money of his own, and then the government decided who and what got the money taken from him. Jim Clark should thank God and George W. Bush (I'm not putting them on the same level) that he lives in a nation where he can choose who and what gets his money instead of having it chosen for him. Jim can send his Bush tax refund check and a whole lot more over to BioWhoever and let them use it for cell research instead of just bitching about Bush not sending the money straight to them. Bottom line: Jim, put your money where your mouth is or stop whining.

I'm a religious whacko too, then (0)

Kiro (220724) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246263)

Anyone who believes in God is not a whacko. Those with some moral values left in us who have a problem with killing baby cells "in the name of science" are the torchbearers of the movement that will assure that no other Dr. Mengele will ever arise. Michael, go worship your idol, but keep your bullshit stigmas to yourself.

Self-fulfilling prophecies (3, Insightful)

Salamander (33735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2246322)

It is futile to think that private funding can make up what is being lost

Yeah, well, that's sure of hell true when the private donors desert researchers in their very hour of need, breaking promises in the process. It seems likely to me that this has less to do with principle than with Mr. Clark feeling a little less rich than he used to.

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