Archive for March 19th, 2009

Check out Aimee’s legs

| March 19, 2009 | 1 Reply
Check out Aimee’s legs

Check out Aimee Mullins’ legs. Please note, though. She’s not disabled. Watch this video and you’ll never think of prosthetics the same.

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A Master’s in Creationism

| March 19, 2009 | 24 Replies
A Master’s in Creationism

LOL*cough*

Excuse me. I nearly choked on a handful of almonds. My created/intelligently designed oesophagus is just a little too close to my trachaea, making it very easy to block the latter with particles of chewed food whilst laughing my arse right off its hinges when I read stuff like this FOX article:

State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) proposed House Bill 2800 when he learned that The Institute for Creation Research (ICR), a private institution that specializes in the education and research of biblical creationism, was not able to receive a certificate of authority from Texas’ Higher Education Coordinating Board to grant Master of Science degrees.

So. “Education” and “research” (grin) of biblical creationism (chortle). OK, well, although I’m no theologian or creation scientist (snort) , allow me to sum up the entire proposed course for you:

Education: God did it.
Research: it says in the Bible that God did it.
Thesis: the Bible says God did it; the Bible is always right because God wrote it; God is always right; the evidence for this is in the Bible which God wrote; my conclusion is that God did it (and is always right, just like the book He wrote).

Well done, here’s your diploma & whimsical “WWJD” t-shirt that all the kids are wearing. That’ll be several thousand dollars. Hmm?

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Linking to Wikileaks could cost you $11,000

| March 19, 2009 | 1 Reply
Linking to Wikileaks could cost you $11,000

Well, it will if the Australian government gets its way on its internet censorship bill. That’s right. The ACMA seems to have placed Wikileaks on its potential web blacklist and seems set on throwing fines of up to $11,000 at anyone who links to it.

I’d happily go all out on this one, but a fellow Antipodean has already got this one in his sights:

I’m posting this on my American blog because the Australian government, through the Australian Communications and Media Authority is fining people on Australian sites who give the links below the fold $11,000/day. Pretty well everything I feared about censorship by the internet filter and heavy handed government action is coming true.

First of all, it transpires that only one bureaucrat at ACMA is required to block and ban a site, with no further oversight or redress. Second, it turns out that yes, ordinary and popular pornography sites are being blocked, so that if the filter becomes mandatory, these legal sites will effectively become censored for no apparent reason (other than political whim or special privileges). Thirdly, the whistleblower site Wikileaks is blocked by the ACMA blacklist.

John follows with the excerpt from a Crikey article:

Like New Labour in the UK, the ALP has now abandoned that [civil liberties movement], for a number of reasons. Once it committed itself to neoliberal economics (“social capitalism”) Labo(u)r became freaked about the social dissolution and rupture, the desocialisation created by turning the polis into a giant market of winners and losers. The tough answer to this is genuine social democracy, in which people have a social being not entirely defined by whether they’re a “winner” or a “loser”. The easy answer is to let the market rip, allow it to change the culture, and then seek to control and reshape people’s behaviour, selling it to them as “protecting the many against the few”.

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Cloning is a Silly Issue

| March 19, 2009 | 7 Replies
Cloning is a Silly Issue

As with Prohibition and Abortion, the Stem Cells and Cloning issues are handy distractions from real issues of national import, like infrastructure, economy, and war. The War on Drugs is every bit as successful now as was Prohibition in the 1920’s. Abortion is a medical procedure that blatantly favors the rights of the host over the cluster of human cells growing within. Although abortion is periodically effectively outlawed, its incidence is never significantly reduced.

Oddly, to mention stem cells brings a knee-jerk retort of “Cloning!” from some quarters. Cloning is only a dangerous issue to those who don’t actually know what it is. Let’s suppose that the technology were developed to create a healthy baby genetically identical to an existing adult. It would be an expensive procedure, and necessarily take as long as a normal gestation. But mutations occur with every cell division, so the original cloned blastocyst would be subtly different than the donor’s original blastocyst, however perfect the methodology.

The clone would also be raised in a different family, so we are now slightly farther apart then identical twins raised apart. Much more significantly, the gestation would be in a different environment (womb, timing, nutrition) creating many significant physical developmental differences between donor and clone.

I laugh when movie clones have all the same freckles, scars and other developmental marks as the donor. A perfect clone would resemble the donor much like a normal sibling raised separately.

Why would anyone bother?

Even with livestock. The genetic and health dangers of monoculture tree and vegetable farming are bad enough as a cautionary tale. Most people well enough educated to develop cloning know enough about the principles of evolution to know that duplication of a genome (however ideal it may be) in bulk is a Very Bad Idea.

But cloning research is a different issue. The research has very high potential for serendipitous results. As with the accidental discoveries of antibiotics and Teflon, one can only find things by looking for something in the same area, but rarely for the thing itself. Some of the possibilities include:

* Growing cloned organs in vitro or in a host. Crichton wrote Congo based on the idea of cloned organs raised in host animals.
* Learning enough about gestation to create artificial wombs would be of enormous benefit to premies and other medical problems.
* Knowing how to start and stop cell and organ development could well lead to regrowing limbs and teeth and other organs directly in the host.

Some legislators are moving to block such research, in case it may lead to the possibility of someday making a clone. But why?

Soul? Find me two theologians who completely agree on when and where a soul is created and when it enters a body. Now find me as many who agree as scientists who agree that the soul is a product of biological structure and heuristic experience, a quickly growing number.

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