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Best of Blogs: February 2, 2006

Today's specials: More on Bush's State of the Union fabulism, plus a few nods to economists and nostalgic travelers. Non-disclaimer: We're liberal to the core, but that means keeping an open mind as much as seducing closed ones. And so from the left, the right, the in-between, we include in this daily blog review the political, the social, the cultural and the undefinable. We browse all over the globe. And we're suckers for good writing regardless of ideology. Clicking the link will take you to the original blog post.

Featured Blog I: Casket Laugh
Your Father's Mustache Day!

You've been to open-casket funerals before and you know that the body never looks quite "right," but today when you kneel beside your father's casket to pray you'll be aware that something is very wrong. It will be as if his eye color had changed (if his eyes were open). When you finally nail it you'll let out a little yelp from the surprise that you didn't catch it sooner. "I hated that thing," your stepmother will say when you drag her into the antechamber of the funeral home. "So shaggy and unkempt. Like an old pair of corduroy pants."

"My father was like an old pair of corduroy pants," you'll argue. Your voice will be louder than you'd intended, but you'll run with it. Maybe today's the day to have it out with the icy little interior designer your Dad was too lonely not to marry."Whether he was or not, there was no reason to hang a pair of corduroy pants from under his nose," she'll say. "I could never get him to shave it while he was alive, no matter how I'd harangued him. Honestly, he's probably watching this from someplace today and he's laughing over how I finally got him to shave the thing." Your father's mustache was fat and gray and full of dandruff flakes. Read the rest at Girls Are Pretty...

 

Featured Blogger II: Who the Real Pig-Men Are
President Panders to Anti-Manimal Lobby! Dr. Moreau Flees Country in Rage!

I didn’t listen to the State of the Union Address last night, preferring to maintain my equanimity by attending a talk on quantum physics, but I knew I could trust my readers to email me with choice weird science bits. I’m getting a lot of “WTF?” email about this statement from Bush: "Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research, human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling or patenting human embryos." It’s pure political calculus. He throws away the mad scientist and pig-man vote, and wins the religious ignoramus vote…and we know which one has the majority here. But guess what? Creating chimeras is legitimate and useful scientific research; it’s really happening. Of course, it isn’t with the intent of creating monstrous half-animal/half-human slaves or something evil like that, and scientists are well aware (or should be well aware) of the ethical concerns, and it’s the topic of ongoing debate. Let’s consider one recent example of such an experiment. Down syndrome is a very common genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. That kind of genetic insult causes a constellation of problems: mild to moderate mental retardation, heart defects, and weakened immune systems, and various superficial abnormalities. It’s also a viable defect, and produces walking, talking, interacting human beings who are loved by their friends and families, who would really like to be able to do something about those lifespan-reducing health problems. We would love to have an animal model of Down syndrome, so that, for example, we could figure out exactly what gene overdose is causing the immune system problems or the heart defects, and develop better treatments for them. So what scientists have been doing is inserting human genes into mice, to produce similar genetic overdoses in their development. As I reported before, there have been partial insertions, but now a team of researchers has inserted a complete human chromosome 21 into mouse embryonic stem cells... Read P.Z. Myers in full...

 

 

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