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Sunday
Feb122012

Google's New VC University | The Evolving Human Brain | Culture Wars Updates on Komen, Contraception & Bishops

Daily French Roast

Anne is reading …

Quanitta Underwood boxes in the lightweight division, one of the three weight classes to be contested in the London Olympics this summer. Justin Edmonds for The New York TimesQuanitta Underwood is regarded as America’s best hope for a medal in boxing at the London Olympics this summer. Today Underwood is at the US Olympic trials for women in Spokane, Wash. The 27-year-old five-time national champion, “a lickety-split puncher ranked fourth in the world in the lightweight division (123 to 132 pounds)”, writes the New York Times Magazine, wants to win big for another reason.

Underwood wants to be a symbol of healing and hope to anyone who has ever been sexually abused. Asked to speak in detail about sexual abuse at the hands of her deeply religious, Pentacostal father, she has agreed. I’ve read the entire article, and it is a very well written, fair and honestly told American story.

Google’s VC University

Google Ventures, which calls itself “the most operational venture capital firm in Silicon Valley” is expanding its Start-Up University program, moving into a 12,000-square-foot building, writes the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re not trying to enable the next generation of online casinos,” Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris said. “We’re looking for stuff that’s transformational. … We’re looking to make a dent.”

The hands-on support stem for start-ups is stunning. For every investor at Google Ventures, there are six industry veterans and experts serving as high-level staff members “whose sole purpose is to help portfolio companies get over hurdles.”

Brain Enhancements

Recently a team of ethicists from Oxford released a paper on the implications of using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) to improve cognition in human beings. In his most recent book Better Than Human,  Allen Buchanan, a professot of philosophy at Duke University and a consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics argues “that its critics often proceed from a deeply flawed understanding of human nature. ” The Atlantic Monthly spoke with Buchanan about the ethics of deep brain stimulation, the history of cognitive enhancement, and what a world of cognitively enhanced human beings might look like.

More DFR

Energizer makes batteries, writes NPR, but in the midst of the Komen/Planned Parenthood battle, the company found itself dragged into the abortion wars by social conservatives. “Energizer — like many other companies that have been big donors to Komen — found itself fending off thousands of negative emails and comments on its Facebook page.”

“No company ever wants to do something which polarizes its supporters and stakeholders,” says Jim Ziminski, chief marketing officer for Energizer Global. The company has donated $1.2 million to Komen since 2007.

Related: Komen Found Nancy Brinker’s Mysterious Expense Report The Daily Beast

The Culture Wars Update

Gay Marriage:

Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire’s signature to legislation legalizing same-sex marriage expanded a list that also includes Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, New York and the District of Columbia. In New Jersey, the state Senate passed a gay marriage bill which is slated for an Assembly vote on Thursday.

Obama Contraception Plan:  

Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are satisfied with changes announced last Friday and will break with Republicans seeking to derail the plan. The Catholic Health Association, representing more than 1200 Catholic health care sponsors, systems, facilities, and related organizations and servics is also supporting the compromise. Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Hospital Association, announced her support Friday evening. Catholic Charities has accepted the compromise.

Catholic bishops remain totally opposed to the compromise. Media groups weighing in on the bishops specifically are TIME, who writes that Catholic Bishops have lost their grip on US politics and their flock.

While Catholic bishops in the US were taking the moral hgh ground in America, a papally endorsed symposium is now underway in Rome. The focus is on how the Church has to change if it wants to prevent sexual abuse crises in the future.  The TIME article criticizes media that fails to distinguish that Catholicism is not a monolithic American institution.