Today's Blogs

Jihad in Bangladesh

Bloggers respond to the explosions in Bangladesh yesterday; they also discuss the use of fetal cells to heal burn victims, as well as an “avant game” involving Orwell’s 1984.

Jihad in Bangladesh: Two people died and more than 100 were injured after 400 bombs detonated in Bangladesh yesterday. Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned Islamic group, has accepted responsibility.

Bloggers struggle to understand what happened. Bangladeshi blogger Rezwan at 3rd World View notes, “The most remarkable thing of these bombs is that they contained wood saw dust instead of splinters. … If these were loaded with more explosives and deadly splinters, we could have seen thousands of dead people.” (Rezwan helpfully analyzes the current political situation in Bangladesh here.) Blood and Treasure’s Jamie K., a Brit, writes, “Why did they do it? Short answer: because they could. It demonstrates who’s really in charge. If they’d used real explosives, even in small amounts, and targeted infrastructure, they could have brought down the whole country. Maybe next time, eh?” From my point of view’s Benji Zeitlyn, an expat researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh, examines prevalent conspiracy theories: “The rumours flying round are that behind the Islamic radicals are mysterious forces, the opposition Awami league? not likely. India? why? Apparently India like to destabilize Bangladesh and fuel it’s image as a near anarchic, poverty riddled state, to show it’s rebellious North East states that they are better off as part of India. … hmmm.”

Some are evaluating the events in Bangladesh through the frame of Iraq. Bogus Gold’s Doug uses the events in Bangladesh to attack pacifists: “None of the reliable ‘peace movement’ slogans addresses what happened in Bangladesh. Not ‘No blood for oil.’ Not ‘Bring the troops home now.’ And certainly not ‘No more grieving mothers.’ “

Read more about the Bangladesh blasts.

Fetal positions: Swiss researchers have figured out a way to heal burn victims using skin cells grown from an aborted fetus. “These constructs seem to work as a biological Band-Aid, promoting spontaneous healing of the patient,” one of the researchers said.

It turns out conservatives disapprove. On Red State, commenter J Steele snarks, “[I]f we went about this correctly we could engineer a specially bred type of fetus that could supply cells for burn patients, corneas for the blind, pancreatic cells, and still have all the stem cells we could ever use for everybody else. We can breed out the arms and legs, lets face it they aren’t going anywhere anyway. And since they won’t have limbs we could fit more of them in a womb.” Talk radio host and author Hugh Hewitt asserts, “What if ‘tests show’ that the only fetal tissue that works is ninth month fetal tissue? That is the only discussion of the moral aspect of this ‘testing.’ ”

But liberals are excited about the research. Pandagon’s liberal Jesse Taylor testily points out to Hewitt that the tests have been done, so his question is moot: “[A] sample the size of a postage stamp could treat hundreds of patients. This, of course, compels us to ask the question—what if tests find that we need thousands of fetuses to help a single patient? Until we answer that irrelevant question, how can we accept this ‘progress’?” And freelance editor Orange Tangerine predicts a Nobel prize for the researchers and improved prospects for burn victims throughout the world. She thinks Americans will be “sentenced to live with third-rate burn care because too many politicians thought they’d get voted out if they didn’t ban the use of fetal tissue in research and treatment.”

Read more about fetal tissue and burns. ReadSlate’s Will Saletan’s take.

Shelving 101: Bloggers all over the place are linking to prank-loving game designer Jane McGonigal’s call to take bookstore copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from the literature section and place them in the “current events,” “politics,” and “new non-fiction” sections.

Some bloggers are splenetic about the idea. Wis[s]e Words’ anti-war Martin Wisse claims, “This accomplishes nothing, other than making the participants feel good. It’s replacement activity, sucking up energy that could’ve been put into fighting Bush and worse it’s replacement activity that makes you look stupid.” Qwghlm’s Chris Applegate, who says he’s interested in socialism, lashes out against “hipster douchebags,” and their disregard for bookstore employees. He entreats them: “[W]hy not actually broaden your horizons, gain some sophistication, and find out about books other than Nineteen Eighty-Four, because quite frankly, referring to it all the damn time and trying to use it as an allegory for whatever you want to whine about is the height of intellectual laziness, and something that is probably making Orwell somersault in his grave.” Holdersite’s Damon Lindsay, who enjoyed Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, has exactly the opposite reaction: “Funny and makes a great point without really causing harm.”

Read more about the Ministry of Reshelving.

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