Saturday, June 04, 2005


Why Do I Even Bother?

Yesterday, I put up a post about some fallacies in the public health community regarding obesity and the next day, all sorts of stories appear about obesity as a public health crisis.

ABC News has a story about "criticial" childhood periods that lead the adult obesity.
Identifying these critical periods, they say, could help public health experts determine where best to intervene.
And then Reuters, as carried by MSNBC, attempts to restore obesity as the greatest health issue confronting the nation.
Treating obesity-related disorders costs as much or more than illnesses caused by aging, smoking and problem drinking.
I am getting really sick and tired of fashion as science, and particularly when that "science" is used to create public policy.

My post from yesterday, well actually the source I based it on, showed that there is currently no known link between obesity and mortality. As a nation we have become so obsessed with weight that it has risen to the level of near religion. I bet your church at some point or another has had a weight lose class or support group or something. So, of course, they are going to look for science to make the case as well.

The same thing has gone on with so many environmental issues as well. Genuine pollution, that is to say putting toxic materials where they do not belong, is a big deal. But environmentalism now encompasses preventing someone else from building a house because you like your view. And as we are seeing with obesity, there is great pressure on religion and science to provide moral and knowledgable support for people's TASTE.

If my gut bothers you, let's talk about it. If my house blocks your view, let's talk about it. But knock off making your preferences and choices a matter of moral and scientific imperative.


So That's Why...

...I am the way I am.

Intelligence, genetic disease linked

I got all excited when I saw that headline. I figured I was going to have a field day debunking some fool that was trying to say really intelligent people were ill. A better study would be into looking at how so many really intelligent people can be so wrong, but that is another matter altogether.

Anyway, all I got is study linking a certain sect of Judiaism in eastern Europe, with a set of genetic disorders and higher than average intelligence, to a form of selective breeding that was maintained in eastern Europe historically. So far, I'm thinking it is more correlation being confused with causation.


Lessons Of War

The best comes right from the horses mouth. In this case, Dadmanly, and his son.

Dadmanly posts on what he and his unit have learned from this deployment.
As we assemble at our Demobilization Site for the last time in our current configuration, with all our new friends, true brothers and sisters in arms, it will be hard to say those last goodbyes. We will want to linger, but will long more for our families and homes and a return to our lives before mobilization.

It reminds me of the final scene in Ocean?s Eleven, when the partners in crime go their separate ways. They are satisfied (and rewarded) by their work to be sure, but there is an air about them of that feeling, if not sadness exactly, maybe a warmly felt regret of remembrance. That by going back to our first homes, we have to say goodbye to this home away from home, not buildings, not tents, not FOBs and Palaces, but the home that was the fellowship with our fellow Soldiers.
I probably should not crack a joke based on Dadmanly's fine prose, but I need to remind him that the original Ocean's Eleven (the Rat Pack) was about a returning military unit pulling the heist. I am hoping that is a lesson Dadmanly did not learn.

And then he posts an essay by his son on the flag. The boy is nine.
So now with my dad in Iraq and my heart towards God all I can say is the flag stands for all.
That brought a tear to my eye and gave me the best hope for the future of this nation I have had in a long time.


Words Matter

The Blue Fish Project posts on church music and how the lyrics matter.
The sad truth is that some of our songs, even some of our favourites, are plain bad and wrong theology. I've long had a bug-bear about "Lord, let your glory fall". I was encouraged to see Ian Stackhouse agree with me that this song demonstrates a "peculiarly pre-Christian hermenutic" (if you know what that means!). Likewise, we don't need another pentecost (though I agree with the sentiment). And I honestly don't think its particularly helpful to view the cross as the place where Christ "...took the fall, and thought of me, above all." Actually, I think Christ's chief concern was the glory of God (though the cross does concern us too).
I have mentioned before that I am no fan of a lot of musical trends in church these days. Traditional hymns are so rich. I understand that musical tastes change, but I have often wondered why the old hymns cannot be set to new tunes and beats? I know of a couple or old hymns where that has happened and it sure does make my soul a lot happier, and I think give the singer more to chew on.


Get Me A Telescope

This article shows how we may be able to see the actual impact of a space probe on a comet that is coming through this summer. In college I had access to one of the larger reflectors in the country. It was useless for genuine research because of its urban location, but for something like this it would be spectacular. Maybe I need to go to summer school?


I am the Pope!?

St. Pius X
You are Pope St. Pius X. You'd rather be right than

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hat Tip to Eternal Perspectives for that little goody. Follow the link and find out which pope you are. What's the first thing I would do if I were pope? Why - plaster the Vatican with Comic Art , of course.


Comic Art

The Many Faces Of Hank Pym

I do not think there has been any comic book character that has changed superheor identities as much and Henry (Hank) Pym. Generally almost alwasy as an Avenger, the good Dr. Pym, master of the size changing Pym Particles has switched costumes and code names like most of us switch underwear. He has also lent some of those costumes, powers and identities to others from time to time. He is a wonderful character for those that just love continuity issues. Anyway, he is also a visual tour-de-force all by himself.

First he was Antman

Then he was Giantman

Then he was Goliath

Then he was a different Giantman

And then he was Yellowjacket.

I will not bother you with the other people that have filled virtually all of those suits at one time or another. In my heart -- they will all, always be Hank Pym - the original is always the best.


It Sells Magazines

Holy Coast just keep complaining about the coverage of Danica Patrick from last week's Indy 500. Now he is bellyaching because she got the cover of Sports Illustrated.

In this case, I have to agree with him. She is going to sell a lot more mags than the winner. So what? -- she still drove a great race. On second thought, I watched the replay last night -- she drove a fantastic race.


This'll Honk You Off

Civilians bearing brunt of Iraq's continuing violence
All the article does is quote statistics on civilian death and injury. Fails to mention who is committing the violence altogether. Does that strike anyone else as problematic?


Gotta Link... this Gerard Baker piece from the Times of London. He is reflecting on the resounding defeats handed the EU this last week.
Under its expensive welfare programmes, paid for by a high level of productivity in traditional manufacturing industries, Europeans enjoyed a pampered life. With the Soviet threat gone, this accelerating prosperity further encouraged them to renounce the idea of war and military coercion, and they settled down to enjoy an assured future ascendancy.

By the beginning of the 1990s, with America in apparent decline, it seemed a reasonable bet that this extraordinary model of economic and political success would become an example to the world. But external and internal forces were already undermining this paradise.

In economics, the forces of globalisation unleashed by an emergent Asia and an information technology revolution were reviving the American eco-nomy and giving birth to new, dynamic competitors. This speed-of-light competitive world of the microchip and flexible capital markets would require nimbleness, and an end to the protections that seemed to have helped Europe to become the success story of the 1980s. The Anglo-Saxon economies, in response to their own economic crises of the 1970s, had prepared themselves for this new world with painful but necessary reforms.

But Europe looked inward, not outward. Instead of focusing on what was needed ? American and British-style labour reforms, tax cuts and deregulation ? Europe embarked on a quix- otic exercise. It sought to weld a dozen or more disparate countries into an unbreakable economic union, all settled snug and warm under the fraying comfort blanket of expensive welfare systems.
There is no question that globaization is an economic boon, as current events seem to be demonstrating. I really like this piece by Baker.

But I'm scared. A world economy is just a litle too apocolyptic for me. I have never been one to see the "end times" just around the bend, in fact I think we are supposed to avoid such thinking, but sometimes...


Warnies On Fire!

Becasue Pyromaniac has won the latest award. Congrats to Phil!


So, How Will We Do Research Then?

I could not quite believe this entry in the blog at HuffPo. The doctor seems to think that because a drug company paid for research on one of it's drugs and the journal that published the research takes ads from that same company that the study is de facto unacceptable.

Look, there is no question that money means many illnesses get overlooked in pharmaceutical research, there is not enough money in selling the drug to warrant the development. There is also no doubt that the existence of a drug to treat something somehow makes that something more important in the medical world because doctors and drug companies can make a buck. (Take statins for example, the cholesterol lowering drugs that "have not been proven to prevent heart disease.")

But the system works more than it does not work. The money to do the research has to come from somewhere, and I sure as heck would rather it come from a profit motive than have it taken away from me and redistributed.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Slogan Contest

With a big HT to Allthings2all, Scotwise, and Holy Coast who turned me on to this silliness, this blog is running a slogan contest.

Leave a comment and vote for your favorite -- or got a better idea? Leave that in a comment.


The Truth About Weight

The June issue of Scientific American had an amazing article. Apparently obesity is not a cause of mortality.
And yet an increasing number of scholars have begun accusing obesity experts, public health officials and the media of exaggerating the health effects of the epidemic of overweight and obesity.
The article contains a lot of data and information and I recommend reading it strongly. Note, the magazine is only available by subscription, but this one article is worth the price of admission. I'll quote on breakout box here just to give you an idea.
Media coverage of the obesity epidemic surged in 1999 following a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association by David B. Allison and others that laid about 300,000 annual deaths in the U.S. at the doorstep of obesity. The figure quickly acquired the status of fact in both the popular press and the scientific literature, despite extensive discussion in the paper of many uncertainties and potential biases in the approach that the authors used.

Like election polls, these estimates involve huge extrapolations from relatively small numbers of actual measurements. If the measurements?in this case of height, weight and death rates?are not accurate or are not representative of the population at large, then the estimate can be far off the mark. Allison drew statistics on the riskiness of high weights from six different studies. Three were based on self-reported heights and weights, which can make the overweight category look riskier than it really is (because heavy people tend to lie about their weight). Only one of the surveys was designed to refl ect the actual composition of the U.S. population. But that survey, called NHANES I, was performed in the early 1970s, when heart disease was much more lethal than it is today. NHANES I also did not account as well for participants? smoking habits as later surveys did.

That matters because smoking has such a strong infl uence on mortality that any problem in subtracting its effects could distort the true mortal risks of obesity. Allison and his colleagues also used an incorrect formula to adjust for confounding variables, according to statisticians at the CDC and the National Cancer Institute.

Perhaps the most important limitation noted in the 1999 paper was its failure to allow the mortality risk associated with a high BMI to vary?in particular, to drop?as people get older.

Surprisingly, none of these problems was either mentioned or corrected in a March 2004 paper by CDC scientists, including the agency?s director, that arrived at a higher estimate of 400,000 deaths using Allison?s method, incorrect formula and all. Vocal criticism led to an internal investigation at the CDC; in January the authors published a ?corrected? estimate of 365,000 obesity-related deaths a year, which they labeled asstemming from ?poor diet and inactivity.? The new figure corrected only data-entry mistakes, however.

Meanwhile another CDC scientist, Katherine M. Flegal, was preparing to publish a new and much improved estimate based entirely on nationally representative surveys that actually measured weights and heights. Flegal?s analysis allows for risks that vary with age and claims to correct properly for confounding factors. But ?the biggest reason that we get different results is that we used newer data,? she asserts.

As illustrated in the chart below, the new analysis suggests that it is still far from certain whether there is any measurable mortality toll at all among overweight and obese Americans as a group. Even among the moderately and severely obese (those whose BMI exceeds 35), the plausible annual mortality found in the 1988?1994 survey ranges from 122,000 extra to 7,000 fewer deaths than one would expect based on the death rates of ?healthy weight? people.

There it is, the best we can really say is that we do not know about the effects of weight on mortality. Next time somebody tells you you need to lose 15 pounds or your going to die young, shove this article at them.


Good Reading

On second thought, make that the best reading. What am I referring to? Why, the Bible, of course.

Cheat Seeking Missles turned me on to this David Gelernter Weekly Standard piece on Bible illiteracy in America. Gelernter addresses the need to teach the Bible as literature because of it's foundational importance in America.
But can you teach the Bible as mere "literature" without flattening and misrepresenting it? How will you address the differences (which go right down to the ground) between Jews and Christians respecting the Bible? (The question is not so much how to spare Jewish sensibilities--minorities have rights, but so do majorities; the question is how to tell the truth.) What kind of parents leave their children's Bible education to the public schools, anyway? How do we go beyond public schools in attacking a nationwide problem of Bible illiteracy?

Tricky questions.

AMERICAN HISTORY STARTS with the emergence of Puritanism in 16th-century Britain. The Bible was central to the founding and development of Puritanism. It was central to the emergence of modern Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries--and modern Britain was important in turn to America and to the whole world.
He goes on to discuss the extreme historical signifigance of the Bible. This article is a must read, even if you are an avowed atheist. My favorite quote
It's clear that any public school that teaches about America must teach about the Bible...
But then, we run into stories like this one that Scotwise unearthed.
A hospital trust is considering removing Bibles from patients' bedsides for fear that they may be spreading the superbug MRSA, it emerged today....

...Gideons International commissioned reports from medical consultants about the potential risk which found there was no danger, Mr Mair added.

The trust is also concerned that the Bibles are offending non-Christian patients.
That last paragraph reveals all. I really hate it when people cook up excuses.

God forbid we would allow people unintentional exposure to the most influential document in history.


You Just Might Be....

No, not a redneck. Thanks to Evangelical Outpost for pointing out Common Ground Online's version of that joke using evangelicals. Some of them are funny
If you say the word ?just? more frequently than the word ?Jesus? when you pray?you might be an evangelical.
(Actually, there is a concerted movement to overcome this tendency, I have recently been witness to a whole series of seminary students that pray using the words "Jesus," "Lord," and "Father" as some sort of verbal punctuation mark.)

Some of them are telling
If someone says ?guitar,? and you automatically think ?worship?? you might be an evangelical.
In the never ending debate on what precisely is an "evangelical" these jokes may provide the answer -- A Young Life kid that never moved from Young Life to church.


What Happens When You Lose Track Of History.

Happened across this little "Reader's Opinion" in yesterday's NY TImes.
A couple of weeks ago my dad pointed out that there is only one major route out of California over the Sierra Nevada if you are north of Bakersfield. That road is Interstate 80. Other roads cross the mountains, but in a tentative, almost exploratory way. Eighty is the way in and the way out. The roadway has been blasted with cold and heat. And if, while you're climbing it, you happen to remember, as I did, that this is the one eastern crossing out of northern California, the route somehow seems unduly fragile, cutting its way through time.
The writer then goes on to extol the virtues of this particular highway. I have driven this highway many times and agree. So much so that my wife and I took a vacation a few years ago the sole purpose of which was to follow that highway. She talks about the history of the trail, but ignores one overwhelming fact. Interstate 80, with the exception of a short span near the Great Salt Lake, is the route of the original Transcontinental Railroad.

That's a rather important bit of information to exclude when you are extoling the history of something, don't you think?


You Haven't Really Seen It...

...until you have seen the video. Most people who are paying any attention have seen the stills of an April sandstorm south of Baghdad, but courtesy of 365 and a Wake Up the link above will let you see video of it. This may knock tornado videos off my list of coolest weather stuff I've ever seen.


Friday Humor

A Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper has cheated him for ten million bucks. This bookkeeper is deaf. It was considered an occupational benefit, and why he got the job in the first place, since it was assumed that a deaf bookkeeper would not be able to hear anything he'd ever have to Testify about in court.

When the Godfather goes to shakedown the bookkeeper about his missing $10 million bucks, he brings along his attorney, who knows sign language.

The Godfather asks the bookkeeper: "Where is the 10 million bucks you embezzled from me?"

The attorney, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper where the 10 million dollars is hidden.

The bookkeeper signs back: "I don't know what you are talking about."

The attorney tells the Godfather: "He says he doesn't know what you're talking about."

That's when the Godfather pulls out a 9 mm pistol, puts it to the bookkeeper's temple, cocks it, and says: "Ask him again!"

The attorney signs to the underling: "He'll kill you for sure if you don't tell him!"

The bookkeeper signs back: "OK! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzo's backyard in Queens!"

The Godfather asks the attorney: "Well, what'd he say?"

The attorney replies: "He says you don't have the guts to pull the trigger.

Don't ya just love lawyers?


This Will Make A Marriage Work?

My wife sent me this post from Jeff the Baptist. (No hint implied) Jeff cites a psychological study.
Psychologists believe that what they are observing in couples who endorse these and similar sentiments are strongly selective memories that ignore inevitable negative events over the course of marital history. Maybe a distorted view of your marriage that emphasizes the positive and forgets the negative is crucial to accounting for who stays and who flees when it comes to relationship endurance.
Jeff presents quite a good rant on this, but within says
Might I suggest that this is not a case of forgetfulness or delusion that allows couples to stay together but love allowing for forgiveness and acceptance.
Jeff is, I think, half right there. Love and forgiveness play a key role, but so does repentance and trying not to make the same mistake twice. All of my friends that have divorced were very loving and forgiving -- what pushed them over the edge was seeing the same mistakes made over and over and over again. Forgiveness demands a price -- cheap grace will not suffice.


Why Do I Love Comic Books?

In part because it is fairly easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys -- which is very different from real life. Never has that been more apparent than the coverage of the revelation of Watergate's 'Deep Throat.'

First the NYTimes.
Congress and an aggressive press ultimately played crucial roles in bringing the truth about Vietnam and Watergate to light.
Then the WSJ.
Messrs. Woodward and Bernstein earned their fame, but the consequences for journalism have not always been salutary. In their zeal to be the next Woodstein, many in the press have developed a "gotcha" model of reporting that always assumes the worst about public officials.
And Peggy Noonan tries to put some perspective on it.
Maybe the big lesson on Felt and Watergate is as simple as the law of unintended consequences. You do something and things happen and you don't mean them to, and if you could take it back you would, but it's too late. The repercussions have already repercussed. Mark Felt cannot have intended to encourage such epic destruction. He must have thought he was doing the right thing, protecting his agency and maybe getting some forgivable glee out of making Nixon look bad. But oh the implications. Literally: the horror.
Noonan is as close to right as I have seen. Watergate was neither completely heroic or utterly tragic. It was, really, just another scandal, and 'Deep Throat' was just another player in that scandal. I will say this, I am really sick and tired of having it be some sort of pivotal point in history.


Following Lewis and Clark...

...down the Columbia River is th point of this post from Flag Of The World. They are truly beautiful pictures and it goes right past where my wife grew up.


Quick, Call Moses!

There is a plague afoot.
Mormon crickets have begun their spring assault in the Reno area, marching into a new subdivision in Spanish Springs, north of Sparks. It's the sixth straight year of infestation. Last year, the crickets infested some 12 million acres of Nevada and experts predict this summer's infestation will equal that or exceed it.
"What's so bad about a few crickets?" you ask. Consider
Instead, Dixon began using a leaf-blower to blast the insects off the siding of his house.

"It was unbelievable, just amazing,"Dixon told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "You couldn't even see the color of the wall there were so many."
I wonder what histoy would look like if Pharoah had had leaf blowers?

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Challenging Modernity

One of the things that I am struck with more and more these days is the desire to "update" Christianity. I find myself stuck between the obvious historical evidence that Christianity has changed through the centuries and the utter hubris of assuming that we have any power at all to change something which is clearly meant to change us.

Among my frustrations in this area is the utter ignorance most people have of the great documents of our past. For example, in my denomination, the PCUSA, there are two primary books of grave importance -- the "Book of Order" and the "Book of Confessions." The later contains the great theological statments of our faith from the early creeds (Apostles and Nicene) to the "Confession of 1967" and the "Brief Statement of Faith" issued when northern and southern churches combined in the early 1980's.

There was a time when knowledge of those books was mandatory for ordained leadership positions in a congregation in our denomination, but no more. After all, it would be asking entirely too much of someone to actually read a book or two if they want to lead God's people.

Things like this are important to me because so many of the questions of our faith have been answered -- were answered in some cases centuries ago -- by people that were quite smart even though they wrote with quills on parchment instead of electrons on semi-conductors. And given that God has likely not changed in the intervening years, the answers they arrived at are likely to still be valid.

Thus I loved this post from Jollyblogger and linked by Adrian Warnock. David is working on a sermon on the very difficult Hebrews 6. His initial response to the questions raised by that passage is to quote the "Westminster Confession."

This confession is one of the genuine founding documents of the Presbyterian movement and is a fount of real wisdom. I am struck by how well it addresses the questions Hebrews 6 raises and I am grateful that there are at least some preachers left in the world that will refer to it, even if it is a few hundred years old.


CONGRATULATIONS!... Percy and Florence Arrowsmith. They have been married for 80 years.
A British husband and wife revealed the secrets of the longest marriage of any living couple on Wednesday as they celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary - don't sleep on an argument, always share a kiss and hold hands before going to bed.
No marriage counselling, no pre-nuptual agreements, no Prozac -- just genuine affection and human kindness. You have to love that.


California Really Is Cool

Whenever stories like this appear, people wonder why we live out here.
A landslide sent at least 12 expensive homes crashing down a hill early Wednesday and damaged 15 others in this coastal Southern California enclave.
Yes, we have earthquakes and landslides. But I'll tell you what -- find me a place to live, any place whatsoever, where I can make a good living and be free of natural disasters and I'll go. I used to live in the virtual earthquake free zone of Indiana -- I only saw tornadoes once or twice a week in the summer.


Illuminated Scripture

Another fav, based on field very near our home:


Sarcasm is Sometimes Insufficient

Christina Hoff Summers is one of my favorite authors and she has a great one in this piece in USA Today. She takes on the nonsense in educational institutions designed to foster self-esteem. All I can say is we are raising a nation of wimps. Quickly, think of the biggest lesson of your life -- did it come out of success or failure? I'll bet at least 70% of you said "failure." So what are we protecting kids from?


Wisdom Comes With Age?

This has got to be the least politically astute article I have ever read.
A new study of Nobel Prize winners and great inventors suggests top innovators are older today than they were a century ago....

...Jones figures that the accumulation of knowledge over time -- all that stuff that most of us don't know -- means even great minds need to spend more time educating themselves before they can make a breakthrough.
In the first place we have not seen anything anywhere near the kinds of breakthrough discoveries in the last 100 years that we saw when the 1800's moved into the 1900's (Einstein, Bohr, Plank....) But the reason this is true is pure politics and finanaces. In the non-theoretical fields, it just costs too much money to do it outside of the university. In the theoretical fields, you have to do your university apprenticeship.

In both cases, you are the underling to the revenue generating, paper-signing professor, generally until well past the age that Einstein published his seminal papers while working for the patent office. I wonder what this study would look like if it was based on the grad students that do the majority of the work as opposed to the profs that got the credit?


Whine, Whine

This NYTimes editorial is just a bunch of whining.
But this isn't quite true. At some of the busiest airports in the country, including ones in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles, passengers with premium-class tickets or upper-level memberships in airline clubs are now able to cut the line...

...Increased security protects us all and the inconvenience it requires is a trial we all must share. No one should be able to buy his way out of it.
First of all -- a special, shorter line does not constitute "buying your way out of it." No one goes unchecked.

More importantly, the author has no idea how important the priveledge programs are to the airlines. A huge portion of their revenues come from a relatively few travelers. I used to be one of them (contracts come and go) and those priveledges are the only thing that kept me coming back to the same airline over and over again.

Secondly, while security lines are a pain, you have no idea what they are like if you are boarding airplanes multiple times a week, most weeks.

Tell you what -- we can eliminate such special security lines if the guy will agree to a flat tax. Whadda ya think?


Hate Comment Bait

Doctors fully separated the fused legs of a baby girl known as Peru's "mermaid" early Wednesday, calling the delicate procedure a "true success."
Thus robbing the child of a perfectly good career as a sideshow freak.

Before you all flood me with nasty comments -- it's called dark humor. The set up for the punch line was just too good to resist. I am quite happy for the child and it appears this surgery will work far better than many such surguries do, although she still has a tough road ahead.


Look Out!

This story is either another one of those cases of poor metrics, or it is the basis for what will have to be the most tightly controlled drug in history.
Trust in a bottle? It sounds like a marketer's fantasy, like the fabled fountain of youth or the wild claims of fad diets. Yet that's what Swiss and American scientists demonstrate in new experiments with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin.

After a few squirts, human subjects were significantly more trusting and willing to invest money with no ironclad promise of a profit.
I am unsure if willingness to invest is a good metric here, after all, scam artists make this happen without benefit of hormones everyday, but the ramifications of this, if true, and terrifying.
The researchers acknowledged their findings could be abused by con artists or even sleazy politicians who might sway an election, provided they could squirt enough voters on their way to the polls.
They ignore the most potent misuse -- this would be the ultimate "date rape" drug. Trust is more than half way to seduction. In fact, I would not be surprised if some enterprising grad student was synthesizing or isolating this stuff and selling it out the back door already.



I have decided that you have to be pretty lonely to put people ahead of animals, but People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals does it every day. Now they are opposing medical research using animals. And they are just flat out lying:
PETA flat-out opposes the use of animals in medical research, claiming that "Even animal research that is carried out for 'medical purposes' tends to be irrelevant to human health." This claim is ridiculous.

Not only has research with laboratory animals led to countless medical advances for people including with respect to vaccines, drugs, smallpox, diabetes, heart disease, surgery, organ transplants and much more but also for animals.
There is not a pharmaceutical on the market that has not been tested on animals.

When one attends Butler University one learns where the good times come from -- nearby neighbor Eli Lilly. This means I spent some time in the labs at Lilly, almost all of which had a few animals to do metabolic studies or whatever, and I have never seen a happier, healthier bunch of animals in my life. They were pets.

PETA may be the most misguided bunch of ninnies the world has ever seen.


Is The Whole Nation Presbyterian?

According to Marshall Wittman writing at RealClearPolitics the answer to that question is, "Yes!"
A single theme runs through the issues that hurt Democrats most -- order. From cultural issues like abortion and gay rights, to crime and foreign policy, the party that represents order wins.

As Democrats analyze their recent losses in presidential elections and plan the party's future, they should focus on one word: order.

Americans long for it -- social order, law and order, world order.
After all, Presbyterians are the ones that "do it" decently and in order. The fun part is that Wittman runs Bull Moose Blog for the Democratic Leadership Council, not exactly the most religiously astute organization.


Does Sexism Lurk In The Heart OF NASCAR Fans?

Why is my friend and NASCAR fan Holy Coast working so hard to denigrate the accomplishments of Danica Patrick in last weekend's Indianapolis 500? He quotes race winner Don Wheldon as complaining about Patrick's lower weight giving her an advantage. They want to ballast the cars to make it "even."

Ounces count in racing like this, but this is just beginning to sound like sour grapes to me -- the girl drove a great race, give it up! Besides, maybe the male drivers should go on a diet, or like horse racing, the teams should start hiring drivers of smaller stature. Why does she have to be penalized?


This Really Would Be Fun

Back in school, I really enjoyed hurling sub-atomic particles at molecules and seeing what would happen. Unfortunately, I threw out my pitching arm and had to leave such work to younger people. This article brought back the good old days.
No matter how long you look at it, a water molecule is still just two hydrogens latched onto one oxygen.

So says a new experiment, which contradicts a previous claim that water lost at least half of a hydrogen effectively becoming H1.5O when looked at with an extremely fast "camera."
"Seeing" atomic topography was not really possible when I was in school, and given that atoms are as much mathematical constructs as they are real things, I am still not sure we are seeing anything that resembles some sort of "reality," but these sure are fun toys to play with.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Plenty Good!

SmartChristian is wondering, "What Good Are the Prophets?" He is teaching a course on them and comments that most Christians don't read them and is wondering what to say.

I could go on about the prophets for days, but currently lack the energy. I think they are the best documents ever written to tell the church how to be the church. Think about it, they are largely written to help a disobedient Israel find it's way back to the Lord. What could be better for the Lord's current chosen, particularly when those people lose sight of the Lord even more often than the Israelites?

Everytime I read them, I hear a great message for the congregation I am in. So, why do they not get examined? Simple, they are harsh, and direct. We do not value direct communication in our society. And neither, I think, did the Isrealites. I am not sure the prophets were much appreciated by their primary audiences either. Most people do not want to hear things like
"Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter For you to forsake the LORD your God, and the dread of me is not in you," declares the Lord GOD of hosts. (Jeremiah 2:19 - NAS)
Yet, I can think of few more important messages for the church.

That is the theme I would explore if teaching the prophets -- a word for the church.


No Duh!

Sex and romance may seem inextricably linked, but the human brain clearly distinguishes between the two, according to a new study. The upshot: Love is the more powerful emotion.
The study cited is not nearly as thorough as the headline and lead would have you believe, but this is one of those "prove the obvious" deals. This is why marriages survived before there was Viagra. This is why I can proclaim I love my recently deceased friend Ken and in the same breath declare myself heterosexual. This is why the homosexual agenda is so utterly screwed up.

I love it when science tells us what God told us millenia ago, but why do we have to be so surprised about it? Seems to me that is the natural order of things.


And Now We Know...

...Who Watergate's Deep Throat is. He is former deputy director of the FBI, W. Mark Felt.

Fine, I find this interesting, but do you realize that more than half the people in this country have no idea what I am talking about in this post? This means one of two things -- most people don't care about history all that much, or Watergate was not all that important. Probably some of each.


Great Military Stories

Here is a post from a soldier that has come home.
I also witnessed another very amazing thing on this trip. The Vets were handing out their personal cell phones to any Marine or Sailor that would take them with the offer to call absolutely anyone they wanted. This was their own dime, their own air time, and they were giving it away so the returning Marines and Sailors could call home and let everyone know they had arrived in the States safely. Absolutely AMAZING! I'd never heard of such a thing. On top of the reception and food itself, that was just the perfect end to a combat deployment and something I'm sure many Vets would agree was unheard of just a few short decades ago.
Stand proud America, this is how our soldiers should be treated -- Good Job!

Then Major K noticed the press actually got something right.
Between daily bombing and body count reports, that are considered the only things newsworthy here, someone in the media actually noticed that Haifa Street is no longer arhabi turf. After a large shakedown by US and Iraqi forces, the Iraqi Army, which had formerly been afraid to go there, now roams it freely.
As well as the press getting it right, it should be noted our military did very, very well.


That Stinks

A giant, stinky flower is attracting a nosy crowd to San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers this holiday weekend.

The titan arum, more commonly known as the ``corpse flower,'' is set to bloom for the first time in two years.

The plant celebrity is world-famous for the big stink it makes when it opens for three or four days every few years. The flower is known both for its scent, which has been compared to dirty gym socks or rotting meat, and its size.
The Huntington Library near my home has one of these things, and I understand the attraction. But this makes no sense
``Even closed, this truly is just exquisite,'' said Tricia Hall of Kentfield, who traveled to the conservatory with her husband, Tom, to see the titan arum.
"Exquisite" and "dirty gym socks or rotting meat" just do not belong in the same area of thought.


The Best of Pravda

Yeah, But It's The Current That Kills

Little boy survives electric shock of 27,000 volts What they fail to mention in the rush to get you to read the story is that a nearby adult died.

Toilet Humor
Two suspects used a funny way for escaping from a holding cell in the Russian town of Kirishi near Saint Petersburg. Their road to freedom started in the toilet.
This seemed like just another one of those not-so-funny "Russia Makes It Funny" stories until I saw the picture. Follow the link and have a look for yourself. Disgusting really does make it funny.


If You Are Going To Be Wrong, You Might As Well Swing For The Fences

That is obviously what buddy Holy Coast did in this post.
I thought the ABC broadcast was way over the top with their adulation of Patrick. They had a lengthy puff piece in the pre-race show featuring her, and even had her trying to downplay her looks, though she admitted that her looks had opened doors for her that otherwise might not have opened. Let's face it, if she looked like pole sitter Tony Kanaan, would the media have been interested?
He is alluding to Danica Patrick, fourth place finisher and almost winner of this year's Indianapolis 500. Mostly I think Rick is making fun of us Indy Car fans saying we have nothing better to talk about. After that demolition derby they called a race on the undercard on Sunday, I'm surprised he has the guts to stick his head above water.

Here is why Danica Patrick is news:

In a word, Patrick is the first real woman driver Indy racing has ever seen. She is not some feminist just there to say she was, she is the real deal -- and that makes her big news.


Now How Am I Going To Get There?

A traversable wormhole could be used for either travel from one point to another, or from one time to another. Unfortunately, according to the paper, quantum effects are necessary for the construction of stable traversable wormholes. This would cause the wormhole to behave unpredictably; you might not know where (or when) you would come out. Wormholes and time machines cannot be both predictable and stable.
That darned Heisenberg! You wanna know the real bummer? Seven of Nine (otherwise known as the "Borg Babe") is waiting for me at a bar somewhere in the Rigel system so I can set her up on a blind date with a friend of mine. He is going to be so disappointed.


Warning: Very Funny Geek Humor

Consider this article
Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth
Sounds ominous does it not?
Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily.

So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do not think this will be easy.
If you go to the article and follow the links there are some very funny ideas. I think my favorite is number 3
Pulverized by impact with blunt instrument -- You will need: a big heavy rock, something with a bit of a swing to it... perhaps Mars
I am wondering though -- would something as round as Mars qualify as blunt?


Observations and Questions

Call this post a bookmark -- Saving some ideas for later. When you have known someone as long as I have known my friend Ken, the occassion of that person's funeral will result in the renewal of many old friendships and acquaintances. Through that process, I made a couple of observations that may be worthy of discussion here.

The first is that I appear to be somewhat unique in terms of memory for events. In such a situation swapping stories is, of course, the order of the day. I found myself able to recall many incidents and specifics that completely escaped most others. Oh, to be sure, I was not completely alone. In one instance an old friend that I was on the high school basketball team with and I were able to discuss specific plays and specific games from specific years, but the rest of the people at the table stared at us like we were somehow alien. The more typical response was the person that had season tickets next to Ken and I for IU basketball in 1983 that could not remember us sitting together for 12 games -- while I was quoting the score of each game. This phenomena extended to far more than basketball.

Am I, and the few others, unique in this sense? Why? What is it about us that gives us this ability to recall? Why was I able to spot people I had not seen in 30 years, walk up to them, and have them look at me as if I was a complete stranger -- it often taking several sentences before they would have even a vague recollection of me? People that I spent hours and hours with.

The other observation was that the friendship that Ken and I shared seemed unique. Many people commented that they could not conceive of staying that close, that many years, over such a distance. Why not? Ken and I exchanged no vows, made no promises -- it was just natural. There are others in my life with whom I share such a bond, though not quite as long lived, but that is mostly about coincidence, not timing.

I do not think this was a faith matter. Ken and I had very, very different approaches to our faith. My grief was compounded by sorrow for people that had little or no conception of real human intimacy beyond what they shared with their spouse, and that is a very different sort of intimacy indeed.

Please, give me some feedback and comment. Have you made similar observations, or asked similar questions? Are you interested? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Many, Many Thanks

To all of you that commented, and especially to Catez and Rick who posted, please accept my heartfelt gratitude at the words of solice and comfort that you offered me during this last very hard week.

As is usual, travel and memorial activities make the burden easier to bear at first, but eventually you have to get back to it, and that dull throbbing ache sets in. It is good to have blogging friends that care. That eases the pain more than you may know.


I Knew...

...the Dems were disingenuous in their desire for peace and bipartisanship in the filibuster "deal," but I had no idea. I spend a week in a self-imposed news void mourning the best friend a man could ever ask for and I come back to a "stall" (FILIBUSTER!) of the John Bolton nomination. That did not take long.

Here is the AP wire story and here is the Boston Globe telling of the situation. I also liked this littel quip from Blogs for Bush.
This, you see, is how the Democrats view the American people; stupid children who must be prevented from doing themselves harm.
I am waaaaaaay past politness at this point. The Dems are completely without honor -- completely. And the so-called moderate Republicans are fools, or so grossly self-centered it has rendered them foolish.

I thought after the judicial filibuster deal that McCain was trying to position himself, and the country, for an independent run at the presidency. I won't bore you with the theory at this late date, because all he has accomplished is to set loose the dogs of war.

As far as I am concerned the time for civility is over. There is no compromise with this bunch of *&^^%$%^#$&*&^*(&(*&_)(*.... The time for a mannerly game of golf is over. The time for a game of hand grenades is upon us.

Action item 1 -- excommunication of John McCain from the Republican party.

Action item 2 -- Withholding of all donations to NRSC, until they start acting like they have a pair.

Action item 3 -- Active campaigning against all Republicans that moderate on these issues.

I've had it.


It IS The Rabbit!

If you recognize that headline, and it made you smile, then you will enjoy this. Just a little bit of Python to make your day -- and mine. (Thanks to Hedgehog Blog)


Perspectives On Pain

Allthings2all posts on dealing with a physical infirmity and some perspectives from the Apostle Paul.

I wish Catez the all the best in dealing with her pain and thank her for the "buck up attitude she demonstrates -- it is a message I really need right now.


Right On Cue

As if he knew my travel plans -- I came back to this from Assumption of Command.

Wait for it...

Mustang calls it the "Cheer Up Frog." Perfect timing for me and the perfect image. Hope you like it -- pass it on.


True Happiness?

Good Friend Scotwise has found the secret to the happiness of the Scots -- Scotch Whiskey.

Though only about one-third Scots myself, I am a big fan of single malt and more than 12 years old. In particular I like the peaty lowland stuff (Lophraig!), which for real Scotch snobs makes me a low-life, but I like what I like.

I could use a bit of the Scots happies right now, but I am afraid once I started a bottle I'd have a hard time not continuing to toast my friend Ken until the bottle was empty, and I was a little happier than intended. So, I shall raise this virtual toast to my passed friend and to my Scots-Aussie friend as well.


From the Edge of Taste

This week's entry is a TV commercial that you may have seen, but that does not make it any less funny, or on the border of taste.


Monday, May 30, 2005


Memorial Day


From The Front Lines

Memorial Day is for those who have died in defense of our nation, but I cannot htink of a better way to do that than to support those who are actively doing so right now. I heard from Jared in Iraq a few days ago. Here is what he had to say:

We made it here to FOB Sykes in one piece. The trip was scheduled to take about 2 hours but it ended up taking about 7. We left on time at 7:00 pm and made it to the eastern side of Tal Afar where we came across a team of HMMWV's with some calvary guys from H Troop. They live in an old Iraqi base about 30 minutes away from FOB Sykes. They informed us that another part of their unit had found an IED in the road and they were neutralizing it. We waited about 1/2 an hour when we saw some large flashes of light about 700 meters away in a small village. A few seconds later, a group of mortars hit with one hitting not 10 feet off of the road next to where one of H Troop's HMMWV was sitting. We immediately moved into a dispersed line formation and lit up the night with tracer rounds from five .50 cal machine guns and a Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher. The H troop guys knew the area so they moved to where they launched from but the insurgents had moved out. When the HMMWV's returned we pulled into the old Iraqi base which is called Ft Tal Afar. it is nothing more than a huge building that is surrounded by barriers and wire. We stayed there about 5 hours and then finally got clearance to go through Tal Afar. As we moved through, now at about 3:00 am we had a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launched at us but, like usual, they are bad shots and it sailed over my platoon sergeant's vehicle. We arrived at FOB Sykes at about 3:40 am and bedded down for the night.

We finally got what our mission will be. We will be leaving Thursday to back to Ft Tal Afar where we will be living...not quite sure what the ammenities will be as this is not a FOB but rather an Iraqi base where we will be working with H Troop as well as teaching the Iraqi army some of our techniques. We will be pioneers out in the frontier of Tal Afar.

Well, I'm borrowing a friends e-mail so I need to run, but I will let you know when we get set up at Ft Tal Afar (yes we have our satellite dish). Please pray for us as we move back through Tal Afar to the other side.

For God and Country, Jared

Sunday, May 29, 2005



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