What will become of America in five, 25, or even 50 years from today? This series of independent mini-features explores possible future scenarios through the prism of today’s global realities. Immerse yourself in the visions of these independent prognosticators as they inhabit a future of their own imagining.

BBC – Podcasts – Making History

BBC – Podcasts – Making History
Peter the Wild Boy from the 1720s

Tue, 22 Mar 11

28 mins

5 days remaining

How enlightened were they in the age of the enlightenment? Lucy Worsley, Curator at the Royal Historic Palaces, explores the story of Peter the Wild Boy, a feral dumb child who was found in the woods near Hamburg and brought to the court of King George in the 1720’s as an object of fascination. How did Peter’s experience differ to others who were ‘different’ in the age of the enlightenment. Bristol’s links with the slave trade are well known… or are they? Tom Holland explores the little-known history of slavery in medieval England. We assess the impact of the Marshall Plan on post-war reconstruction and Helen Castor discovers more about the personal sacrifices made to feed Britain during the Second World War.

via BBC – Podcasts – Making History.

2011 Internship Opportunity at the University of Alberta

Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada
Summer Internships, 2011

Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada is a 5-year project, funded in 2010 by the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program of SSHRC, based at the University of Alberta and directed by Professor Rob Wilson Email Rob Wilson. The project focuses on the history of eugenics in Western Canada, and the relevance of that history for ongoing issues concerning reproduction, technology, disability, human variation, and community inclusiveness. For an overview of the project, and to read about the summer 2010 internships, see www.eugenicsarchive.ca.

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Rebecca Dresser, UW professor and member of the growth attenuation working group, comments on the Maraachli case

Commenting on the Maraachli case where Baby Joseph was moved to U. S. after Canadian court ordered removal of his respirator, Rebecca Dresser, a professor of law and medical ethics at Washington University in St. Louis, said in the article below that U.S. courts generally side with families in such cases that want to continue treatment for loved ones even in seemingly hopeless medical cases, that similar end-of-life cases will likely become more common, “Because of the growing concerns about costs, we’re going to see more of this.”


Please note that Dr. Dressor is one of the members of the growth attenuation working group set up by Seattle Children’s and was quoted many times by Christine Ryan Continue reading

Drake on organ harvesting on death row

Great post just up by Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet on some recent discussions of the idea of introducing policies that promote the harvesting of organs from death row inmates.  It begins:

Wesley Smith has two related pieces on an op-ed by a death row prisoner that was published in the NY Times on March 6th.  Christian Longo, who admits to being guilty of killing his wife and three children, wrote to the newspaper to promote voluntary organ donation by death row prisoners.

In Wesley’s first blog post on this, which I’ll be quoting later on, he blasts the concept – a sentiment I wholeheartedly share.  In the second post, he describes the unmentioned history that the NY Times has with Longo and discredited former reporter Michael Finkel.

While I was surprised at this particular promoter of this proposal getting published in the NY Times, it really wasn’t that surprising to see the idea of death row prisoners as an untapped source of organ donors being pushed in their pages.

This issue resurfaces from time to time, usually around media coverage of a specific death row inmate making the request – wanting to donate organs after his or her death or a kidney while alive.

But right now we might be seeing a deliberate push to popularize this idea by at least one player with both money and media savvy.  See, I’ve been meaning to write something about this topic since last February.  February 14th, to be exact.

You can read the rest of the post, which includes several videos and a discussion of the longer history of this issue, right here or by going to


Abuse Claimed by Ex-Students of The W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind

In yet another example of alleged abuse of vulnerable populations in residential schools, this Chronicle-Journal article describes a class-action law suit filed against the Ontario government on the grounds of negligence and breaches of fiduciary duties by the school staff.

Robert Seed, 64, is the representative plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, which claims the staff at the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind, in Brantford, Ont., bullied, humiliated and abused — mentally and physically — the plaintiffs in the 1950s and 1960s. The lawsuit is still in its early stages. The claim was filed at Superior Court in Toronto last month.

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History of Medicine Days: March 11 and 12 at the University of Calgary

The 20th Annual History of Medicine Days Conference takes place on the 11th and 12th of March at the University of Calgary.

The History of Medicine Days is an annual two-day Nation-wide conference held at the University of Calgary in which undergraduate and early graduate students from across Canada give 10-12 minute presentations on the history of medicine and health care. The topics generally tend to include areas from Classics, the History of Public Health, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Human Biology, Neuroscience, etc. Prizes are awarded and there are associated receptions and an awards banquet.

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Race and Intelligence?

I was recently surprised to learn in a pyschology class of a professor at the University of Western Ontario by the name of Dr. J. Philippe Rushton. Apparently he is known for his work on the relationship between intelligence and racial difference and for his controversial book, Race, Evolution and Behavior. Beyond this, I know very little about his research and its legitimacy. I’m curious to know the thoughts of those who are more familiar with his work.  

Court Rules Blind Father Cannot Take Son to Disneyland

In this Global story from last September, the reporter describes a court decision to refuse to allow Karim Lakhani to bring his son to Disneyland.

With a love of travelling, Lakhani’s dream has been to take his son to Disneyland. In June, a family court judge agreed Lakhani could take his son on the trip. But there was a condition – one that Lakhani was unaware of.

At the time, two adult family friends, who live in California, were going to meet with Lakhani and his son at Disneyland. However, these friends have since changed their plans, prompting Lakhani’s ex-wife to go back to court. She says Lakhani cannot properly protect their son at the amusement park without his sight.

This is the first time his blindness has been an issue when caring for their son.

The judge ruled that Lakhani can only take his son to Disneyland if someone of sight accompanied him.

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Facing Uncertainty: Who is Destined for Alzheimer’s Disease?

A talk by Margaret Lock, McGill University with Respondent: Alex Choby, University of Alberta. Thursday 24 March 2011 at 3.30pm at ETLC E1 003 (right behind Assiniboia Hall on the University of Alberta campus far North West end. Nearest parking is Windsor parkade) with a reception to follow. A SSHRC Gold Medal Winner Margaret Lock is a Professor Emeritus in Social Studies in Medicine, and is affliated with the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Athropology at McGill University. The abstract of the talk: Continue reading

Life worth giving?

Dominic Wilkinson’s article in AJOB February issue.



When is it permissible to allow a newborn infant to die on the basis of their future quality of life? The prevailing official view is that treatment may be withdrawn only if the burdens in an infant’s future life outweigh the benefits. In this paper I outline and defend an alternative view. On the Threshold View, treatment may be withdrawn from infants if their future well-being is below a threshold that is close to, but above the zero-point of well-being. I present four arguments in favor of the Threshold View, and identify and respond to several counterarguments. I conclude that it is justifiable in some circumstances for parents and doctors to decide to allow an infant to die even though the infant’s life would be worth living. The Threshold View provides a justification for treatment decisions that is more consistent, more robust, and potentially more practical than the standard view.


Wilkinson coauthored the following papers with Julian Savulescu. Continue reading

Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger 1934-2011

Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger 1934-2011

From Bruce Uditsky – It is with sadness and a sense of profound loss that the Alberta Association for Community Living acknowledges the passing of Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger, one of the field’s most eminent scholars and critical thinkers. Continue reading