Zakaria On Incarceration Nation
Following on from my series of recent posts on incarceration, this CNN clip is apt.
A political philosopher's reflections on politics, philosophy, science, medicine and law. "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity" (Immanuel Kant, 1784).
We analyze the relationship between age of survival, morbidity, and disability among centenarians (age 100–104 years), semisupercentenarians (age 105–109 years), and supercentenarians (age 110–119 years). One hundred and four supercentenarians, 430 semisupercentenarians, 884 centenarians, 343 nonagenarians, and 436 controls were prospectively followed for an average of 3 years (range 0–13 years). The older the age group, generally, the later the onset of diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and stroke, as well as of cognitive and functional decline. The hazard ratios for these individual diseases became progressively less with older and older age, and the relative period of time spent with disease was lower with increasing age group. We observed a progressive delay in the age of onset of physical and cognitive function impairment, age-related diseases, and overall morbidity with increasing age. As the limit of human life span was effectively approached with supercentenarians, compression of morbidity was generally observed.
Understanding the factors that contribute to age-related cognitive decline is imperative, particularly as age is the major risk factor for several neurodegenerative disorders. Levels of several cytokines increase in the brain during aging, including IL-1β, whose levels positively correlate with cognitive deficits. Previous reports show that reducing the activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) extends lifespan in yeast, nematodes, Drosophila, and mice. It remains to be established, however, whether extending lifespan with rapamycin is accompanied by an improvement in cognitive function. In this study, we show that 18-month-old mice treated with rapamycin starting at 2 months of age perform significantly better on a task measuring spatial learning and memory compared to age-matched mice on the control diet. In contrast, rapamycin does not improve cognition when given to 15-month-old mice with pre-existing, age-dependent learning and memory deficits. We further show that the rapamycin-mediated improvement in learning and memory is associated with a decrease in IL-1β levels and an increase in NMDA signaling. This is the first evidence to show that a small molecule known to increase lifespan also ameliorates age-dependent learning and memory deficits.
Most basic and applied research in the medical sciences today is premised upon the presumption that well-ordered science requires us to prioritize what one can call “negative biology”. Negative biology is the intellectual framework that presumes the most important question to answer is- what causes pathology? Positive biology, by contrast, focuses on a different set of questions and priorities. Rather than making disease the central focus of our intellectual efforts and financial investments, positive biology seeks instead to understand exemplar examples of health and happiness. Understanding why some (rare) individuals can live a century of disease-free life, or why some individuals enjoy more well-being (e.g. positive subjective experience, optimism, perseverance, high talent) or possess greater memory or resilience than the average person could lead to new knowledge that permits us to significantly expand the opportunities today’s populations have for health and happiness.
Rawls, "Two Concepts of Rules": It is morally fitting that a person who does wrong should suffer in proportion to his wrongdoing. That a criminal should be punished follows from his guilt, and the severity of the appropriate punishment depends on the depravity of his act. The state of affairs where a wrongdoer suffers punishment is morally better than the state of affairs where he does not; and it is better irrespective of any of the consequences of punishing him.
Moore, "Placing Blame: A General Theory of Criminal Law“: Of the possible functions for criminal law, only the achievement of retributive justice is its actual function. Punishing those who deserve it is good and is the distinctive good that gives the essence, and defines the borders, of criminal law as an area of law.”