Archive for March, 2007

The benefits of adult stem cells

March 31, 2007

Here’s something for people who think that there is no promise in adult stem cells. I’m thinking specifically of someone who posted a comment this month accusing me of “Bronze Age theology” and saying that “the reason the media doesn’t report on adult stem cell cures is because they don’t exist” (or something very close to these words):
NY Times: For Athletes, the Next Fountain of Youth?

The kinds of stem cell therapies being researched for the most part do not involve the politically sensitive use of embryonic stem cells. But they could involve using harvested adult stem cells, stem cells saved from a child at birth or cells from what may someday be a national bank of donated stem cells derived from umbilical cord or placental stem cells.

And:

The primary uses to date for cord blood have been in the treatment of leukemia and other life-threatening diseases.

“The focus so far has been on more important things than fixing an athlete’s joints,” Dr. Hariri said. “But we’re well aware of the possibilities and the revolution that is coming.”

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Popular Mechanics puts Rosie in her place

March 31, 2007

Recently Rosie O’Donnell went on and on on The View about how the collapse of World Trade Center 7 (not one of the two towers, but a nearby building) was not due to natural physical forces, and vowed to call up Yale or Harvard’s physics department to get to the bottom of things. I.e., it must have been an inside job . . . I get so tired of these “truther” rants. Popular Mechanics responds. Turns out that when a 110-story building collapses, a building 300 feet away takes a serious, serious beating. Who’d have guessed?

My favorite part is how sure Rosie is about physics, fire, and structural engineering. Her words (as quoted from the Pop. Mech. site):

I do believe that it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics that World Trade Center tower 7—building 7, which collapsed in on itself—it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved. World Trade Center 7. World Trade [Center] 1 and 2 got hit by planes—7, miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible.

The response to these assertions also points out that steel begins to weaken at a much lower temperature (400°) than it melts at (2,750°), and that WTC 7 had two 6,000-gallon tanks of gasoline in the basement that fed electrical generators via pressurized lines . . . and that fires raged within the building for seven hours prior to its collapse.

Good one, Rosie.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my puzzlement over how a TV show like The View manages to stay on the air. Is it really just 4 women sitting around pontificating? And one of them is Rosie O’Donnell? Yikes.

The 6-foot nude chocolate Jesus

March 29, 2007

Are Christians supposed to derive spiritual benefit from seeing this sculpture, or are they supposed to be riled up by it? Or is the artist just trying to get publicity? (Note to irony-seekers: I know what I do in posting this.) The caption under the photo (“Jesus, The 485,460-Calorie Messiah”) seems to suggest an irreverent approach, at least by the Post Chronicle. It’s as if to say both that the Messiah is measurable by instruments, and that he is bad for you.

In favor of the sculpture:

  • Molding Christ in chocolate conveys the theme of eating Christ’s body. This is orthodox doctrine, though most Protestants deny that the Body of Christ is physically present in the Eucharist.
  • Rendering Christ naked on the Cross may be historically accurate. After all, the soldiers cast lots for his clothing.

Against the sculpture:

  • Molding Christ in chocolate conveys the theme of Christ as junk food, forbidden pleasure, thus thwarting whatever devotional impulse one might otherwise feel before a crucifix.
  • Molding Christ in chocolate implies that Christ is a seasonal delicacy, like the chocolate Easter bunny, to be consumed (or, paid attention to, or whatever) once a year.
  • This also positions Christ as a commodity.
  • Rendering Christ naked on the Cross may be historically accurate, but it may also cause impure thoughts in viewers. A minimally-clad Christ might also do this, but not so readily as one with exposed genitalia.

Molding things in chocolate imbues sculpted objects with a wholly other meaning than if they were formed from wood or some other non-food substance. There was an exhibit at a local gallery not so long ago that displayed chocolate tools. I’m not quite sure whether that meant to signify the trivialization of work and contempt for the proletariat or whether it was just dumb . . .

So Curly gives the chocolate Jesus a thumbs-down, even if the artist’s intent was pious. Which Curly, given his curmudgeonliness, doubts.

Synergy

March 28, 2007

Ex-wife becomes a man; ex-husband seeks end to alimony

March 28, 2007

The article says that the ex-husband (who is still a man) will likely have to keep paying $1,250 a month to his ex-wife (who is now also a man). But I am rooting for the ex-husband. It seems to get one into contradictions to say that sex changes are okay, but that for purposes of alimony payments one must act as if no sex change occurred.

Response to Rayilyn Brown

March 27, 2007

The following is a response to the first comment on my post entitled “Meet the new Christopher Reeve.” (WordPress won’t let me post a comment to that entry, and this is long enough for its own main entry, so here it is.)

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Multi-touch screen technology

March 27, 2007

This is the coolest thing ever. Jeff Han’s the man. This demo looks cool on his 8-foot screens, but I think it would work great on a 15″ screen as well, and dare say that in 20 years computers will look nothing like they do today.

Meet the new Christopher Reeve

March 27, 2007

Her name is Elizabeth Edwards. I have to admit that I groaned, but was not surprised, to see the headline: “Back on trail, Elizabeth Edwards pushes stem-cell funding.”

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“Image” copyright

March 26, 2007

Concerning the rights of scholars to quote from personal letters:

Ms Schloss’s book, Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, says she was Joyce’s muse in his last novel Finnegan’s Wake.

To support her theory, the Stanford University scholar made use of Lucia’s medical records, European archives containing records on her life and James Joyce’s papers in university collections.

But the estate said she would be infringing its copyright on Joyce’s image, and several citations were cut from her book to avoid legal action.

Do we have “copyright” over anything that might make us look bad?

“The Nation” propagandizes for Castro

March 25, 2007

I don’t normally suggest that my friends taste food that made me sick, but I’m passing this article on to you anyway.

This article at The Nation is a glowing tribute to C. Wright Mills, praising his prescience in realizing that all Cuba needs to be a true heaven on earth is the success of the revolution as pushed by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. The only block to achieving this paradise is . . . yes, you guessed it! The USA.

The propaganda gushes out in the last two paragraphs:

From the time when Mills came to visit us, Cuba has lived a dramatic life with successes as well as failures. Alone and abandoned by all after the USSR disappeared, it had to heroically resist some very hard and difficult years during which the United States intensified its economic and political aggression. Today Cuba forges a path to craft its own unique socialist system, rooted on its own historical experience and with the active participation of its people. Social movements are transforming Latin America, with several countries putting into practice new, diverse and multicolored forms of socialism.

Mills’s prophetic vision is becoming a reality. Indeed, now we have many things to talk about. We are waiting for him.

Summary: Cuba is “heroic” for resisting the “aggressive” United States. It is moving towards socialism (you mean, it’s not already there?) with the “active participation of its people” (i.e., if you’re not on board, you’d better watch your back because Fidel’s goons are going to thwack you). And this socialism is “new, diverse and multicolored” (buzzwords for the American audience, who know that these are all synonyms for “GOOD”).

And note this about the author:

Ricardo Alarcón has been the President of the National Assembly of Cuba since 1993. He has also served as Foreign Minister and as Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations.

The man is perfectly objective. If Cubans really lived under a totalitarian regime that denied them all freedoms and jailed journalists who wrote against it, he would have told us so.