Paternity Rights: Losing Fatherhood

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I can’t believe how angry I am over this. Just finished an article in the NY Times magazine about cuckolded men raising children who are not their own. The article, Who Knew I Was Not the Father?, written by an adjunct professor at Columbia, is almost completely unsympathetic to the plight of men who have raised children to whom that have no genetic tie.

I am incensed. Livid. Apoplectic. The article cites several men who have sought to stop child support upon finding out only to be shot down by the courts in the interest of the child.

In the main case, the biological father is married (years later) to the mother and has no legal support obligations for his child. The cuckolded man does. It’s a bloody outrage.

Not once, in the entire article, does this hack take issue with the duplicity of the mother, the person solely responsible for the fraud, and the person (w/ the biological father) who should be entirely responsible for the financial support of the child. Where is that article? What kind of person does this to a man and, more importantly, to a child? Does this reflect upon her qualifications to be a parent? Shouldn’t these women be stripped of their children?

The answer, it seems, is no. Because it will upset the child. The author cites a lobbyist (now fighting against these women), who abandoned his child and won the right to have no financial obligations. She makes him sound like a monster. She quotes his young adult “daughter” as confused and damaged and mentions the suffering she endured because her “father” abandoned her.


She’s not even mentioned. And, one presumes, the daughter doesn’t blame her.

Some advocates now suggest that there be mandatory paternity tests for all fathers at birth to avoid this problem. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. The entire tone of the article suggests a kind of mystification as to why these men would be so upset about this.


I mean, really?

P.S. On a related note, as I have written before, men should have the right to opt out of financial support for a child during the same time period that a woman can choose to abort the fetus. Figure out for yourself why this is fair and just.


The Rise of the Superbugs

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This story, by Jerome Groopman in the New Yorker, is about antibiotic resistant “superbugs.” Bacteria that have evolved, in some cases, complete resistance to virtually every available antibiotic.

Having evolved initially in hospitals, some of them, like the still treatable MRSA, have moved out into the population at large. While there are a series of new antibiotics coming on-line in the next few years, the risk of a potential pandemic is very real.

It is thought that the primary cause for this crisis is the unnecessary over-prescription of antibiotics, coupled with poor hygienic protocols at hospitals.

Is Google Making Us Stoopid?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nicholas Carr’s article in the Atlantic Monthly has got a lot of people talking about the changes Google, or, more accurately, the Internet (they’re practically synonymous), is making to the way we think. There is the usual hand-wringing that accompanies any new technology or medium, and worries that some part of our basic makeup will be lost forever. Others dismiss these concerns and cite the existence of this kind of worrying whenever society changes.

In truth, they’re both right. The Internet has and will continue to change the way we live, work, and think. And as a result, some part of the way we’ve done things in the past has changed. Biologically speaking, it is certain that routine use of the Internet will shape our neural circuitry and continually reinforce those pathways. Short attention spans, browsing, and what-have-you might be a natural result, if, in fact, the Internet is the prevailing medium through which you extend your brain.

But wherever you fall in this debate, there is an important point that should not be overlooked. Humans (and life, in general) are amazingly adaptable. It has only been a dozen years or so since the Internet really became deeply entrenched in our lives. In that time, many people have gone from the old way of doing things to so pervasive a new way of doing things that articles can appear that question the new way. 12 years!

This ability to adapt ensures that nothing is really lost forever. These abilities are just dormant. The human brain is constantly pruning old and reinforcing new neural pathways. If all the electricity disappeared tomorrow, I exaggerate only slightly by writing that within a few years we’d see a renaissance of long-form journalism and the return of the 19th century novel.

In the meantime, the use of Google and the brain functioning that it encourages are simply a new form of intelligence. Is it an advance? Sure. Like the first monkey to pick up a rock and smash a nut, it will likely be built upon and new modes of thinking and communication will come into existence. Is it ultimately good?

My guess is yes. But one thing is for sure, Google (and the Internet) is not making us stoopid. It is simply making us different than before. And that’s what evolution is all about.

Here’s a number of thinkers on this topic from

Evolution: A Scientific American Reader

Friday, May 30, 2008

I bought this book while browsing the book section of the gift shop at the Museum of Natural History in New York. My interest in biology, genetics, and evolution is paramount in my intellectual life right now, and has been for a while. I was hoping that the book would give me new information and inspire my thinking on the subject. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book is a compilation of articles from Scientific American magazine related to evolution. It starts with a section on the evolution of the universe, continues with cellular evolution, dinosaurs and pre-hominid life, and then finishes with human evolution. Each section contains several articles worth reading, with the standouts being:

  • The entire section on the evolution of the universe.
  • The articles about primitive cellular evolution and immunology (this is a fascinating subject).
  • Stephen Jay Gould on Punctuated Equilibrium.
  • The articles about early hominid evolution and population dispersal.
  • There are a few misses in there as well, but because the book is loosely organized by discrete topics, without much continuity between them, you can simply skip the articles that don’t interest you. For a primer on evolution, and in particular to learn about the evolution of the universe, the formation of stars, and utterly amazing biology of cells, Evolution: A Scientific American Reader is a great book. I recommend it.

    New Mars Mission

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    I know, ho-hum, right? If you’ve seen one dusty, rock-strewn photo from the red planet, you’ve seen them all. The difference here is in the mission of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander. This device has landed on Mars’s northern arctic plains with the tools to dig beneath the surface and analyze the ice there for signs of (or the conditions necessary for) microbial life.

    This journey is amazing for a thousand reasons: One, the thing landed on Mars Sunday night and it’s already sending back photos. Two, the whole thing is solar powered. Three, the Lander will conduct “sophisticated scientific experiments” on the soil and ice on the spot (this thing isn’t coming home). Four, the goal of the mission is to “(1) study the history of water in the Martian arctic and (2) search for evidence of a habitable zone and assess the biological potential of the ice-soil boundary.” Five, the strong possibility that there will be some evidence of life on Mars will redefine how we view the universe and, for me, reaffirm a sense of the universe as an organic entity.

    And so on. Go to NASA for more.

    Mankind Down to the Last 2,000

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    A genetic analysis produced by researchers at the National Geographic Genographic Project and Stanford reports that mankind may have been down to about 2,000 people roughly 70,000 years ago.

    They can figure this out by analyzing the genomes of mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria produce energy for cells, among other things. They have their own DNA, separate from a cell’s nucleus, and they are thought to have once been distinct organisms that were engulfed by our cellular ancestors.

    This research lends some support to Stephen Jay Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium, which sees evolution not as a flowing natural progression towards complexity (and human inevitability) but as a series of start and stop accidents that put us here purely by luck.

    One more major drought and we’d have gone the way of the Neanderthals.