Thursday, August 25, 2005

Weird Dream

I had a really weird dream last night, which involved an adobe city and people going around with assault rifles, constantly fearing being attacked by snipers. I had bad aim, as it seemed like I was aiming with a mouse and not with my arms. Along the way I saw someone on the rooftops and it was someone from my high school, who also had a gun, and we were both wary of each other even when we recogonized each other. So I moved away carefully and somehow ended up in this base-like place, down aisles that seems like library shelves without books, ending in a slight rectangular depressed room that had this metal net over most of it, as a shield of sorts. It was rectangular and cluttered, with a bunch of other people I recognized but couldn't name now for the life of me. There was a door just opposite from the netted part, and people were going in and out. Then somehow the net fell down, I almost feel was the result of an attack. Then I helped reattach it to the openning, on someones' shoulders. There was a ladder just outside the doorway, and people were going up and down that too. I saw a few people I didn't recognize and thus was suspicious of... and then I think that's when I woke up.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Boston Globe Letter to the Editor Regarding Intelligent Design

The Boston Globe - Intelligent design's doubt: Is evolution the full story?

To the Editor:

In Sunday’s article “Intelligent design’s doubt: Is evolution the full story?” the writer states that “even if it were accepted that evolution had been assisted by some designer, intelligent design cannot say who or what the designer is.” This statement is misleading on its face and is used by intelligent design advocates to attempt to get around the barriers traditional creation stories have had. It is true that it does not say whether the designer is God, Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, or Queztalcoatl, and so does not endorse any specific religion. It may not say who, exactly, the designer is; but when you carry intelligent design out to its logical conclusion, it does declare that some supernatural intelligence exists. One might argue that maybe the designers were aliens; but then how did the aliens become complex enough to have intelligence and manipulate our evolution? No, the only possible designer is some form of God.

Intelligent design basically says using mathematics what creationists have always been saying; specifically, that everything works too perfectly and is too complex to have not been designed. However, there is much evidence that things don’t work all that perfectly; they just work, period. And if things were so perfectly designed, there shouldn’t be any evidence, at all, that the components of these ‘perfect’ mechanisms had any other function in the past. If all life is so perfectly designed, why are we humans imperfect in so many ways?

We must remember that even the simplest bacterium we study today has been evolving for around 3.5 billion years. When animal-like cells developed from bacteria, bacteria had already been around and evolved for 1 billion years. When multicellular organisms first appeared, the animal-like cells had around 1.5 billion years to evolve and diversify prior. In contrast, human civilization has only been around for the last 30,000 years, 0.0008% of the total time life has existed. Science has only been around for maybe the last 300 years, 0.000008% of the total time life has existed. Given the very fast reproductive cycle of single-cell organisms, it’s entirely possible that seemingly irreducibly complex structures could have developed in those inconceivably long periods of time.

At worst, intelligent design would halt research into other ideas of the origins of life; as intelligent design, like all creationist theories, is not falsifiable. At best, intelligent design would have science taught and researched as normal, with the caveat that some kind of God exists. At worst, it interferes with science. At best, it inserts religion into science classes. When it comes down to it, intelligent design is no better or worse than other creationist theories and, like them, it has no valid place in our research labs or our science curriculum.

Nicholas Bauer

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Revolution is Now

Everyone (and I know there aren't many of you), go check out that website and see what this one woman is doing. Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, and she is camping outside of Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch until he meets with her. Why is she doing this? Because she wants to know why Bush sent her son to die in Iraq, she wants to know what the "noble cause" is which Bush keeps referring to. A lot of people are starting to join her there and support her in this. She's been there for several days now and plans to stay there until she gets her answer. She's starting to attract huge amounts of attention; Google had counted 609 articles written about her all over the world. Is it possible that she, along with the indictments that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald might hand down to people in the Bush administration, will be the key to unraveling this administration only 8 months into its second term? We can only hope, but I will definately try to help her if I can, and I plan to donate some money once they have the website set up to accept PayPal payments.

Here's to the beginning of the end of the Bush administration.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

"We are the Counterculture. You will be made an individual. Resistance is futile."

One of my friends was complaining on her blog that the counterculture people she knew were critical of some of the things she did which were 'mainstream', that she wasn't being an individual. I posted a really long comment on her blog, and as she and I both loved my use of metaphor in my description of what was going on, and as I in general was happy with my reply, I thought I'd post it here. Not that many more people see this blog that don't see hers... but we'll ignore that for now. ;-)

Basically what's going on is a "mainstream counterculture", and this same thing is going on in other areas, such as "reverse racism" that is sometimes talked about. The counterculture developed as a reaction to what they saw as bad traits of society; and they're certainly right to do so if they choose. But now the "counterculture" is established and defined, and thus if you aren't completely and totally rebelling against the "mainstream" in every way under your control, you're not "one of them", not an “individual”. The same thing has happened elsewhere. Some black communities are just as racist against whites as whites have been against them and would paint a black who is friends with a white a traitor. Some feminists find a woman who decides to forgo her career to become a housewife to be repulsive. These movements become so entrenched in themselves that they loose sight of their real aim. Their originally diffuse mass starts to coalesce and define itself as a distinctive body and, like a planet forming around a star, you can either be pulled completely by the planet, or completely by the star, but there’s no place for balance, as many may see it. Of course, not everyone, thankfully, falls into an entrenched mindset, but it sounds like many of the people you’ve heard from, the part of the counterculture you’ve interacted with, is part of that mindset, and by doing so they’re really just enforcing a new conformity instead of encouraging people to be their own agents. I think you should be proud, because you’re much more of an individual than anyone suggesting you have to be more like someone else.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Requiescat in Pace

I've never really known anyone who has died. My grandfather died about 8 years ago, but I wasn't very close to him. One of my second cousins died last year of brain cancer, but I also only knew her a little bit. Death has never really touched me close to home before.

That changed when I looked at the front page of today's paper. I took the paper out of it's plastic bag and set it down to peruse. I looked at the headlines, and the really cool pictures someone took of lightning in the bad storms last night, but then my eyes glanced just below and breifly glanced over the headline--something about a crash and UNH professor--and locked onto the picture. It was a picture of the professor I completed my Biotech III internship with, Dr. Charles Warren. I wondered briefly why he was in the news, and then I looked back up at the headline, and my heart stopped when I saw it: "Paraglider crash kills UNH professor"

Crash kills UNH professor. Crash kills. Kills... Kills? UNH Professor... Killed? Death... He is dead. Dead? UNH Professor... Dr. Charles Warren; someone I knew; someone I highly respected. Is it possible? Of course it is; no one is exempt from the laws of nature, the law of mortality. But in the prime of one's life? From an accident while doing something you love? It's truly tragic. This might take a while to sink in completely; death had never before hit so close to home.

He was a very kind, genial man, and very smart. It was easy to get along with him, he hated being called Dr. Warren, preferring Charles. I enjoyed very much working with him on his research over those three weeks two summers ago. When I started that internship, he had just come back from a paragliding competition in Australia, something he seemed to love. I had hoped to perhaps work in his lab again over a summer, if briefly. I'm sure he will be missed.

RIP Dr. Charles Warren