Thursday, October 26, 2006

Unsettling Thoughts

For anyone who hasn't paid attention lately, there was a very contentious thread over at the Rott this week on the subject of embryonic stem cells and their use in research for a host of conditions. Feelings were, of course, strong on the subject, ranging from moral and religious objections to scientific opinions to the contrary.

I have to confess very strong misgivings on the subject based on unsettled questions in myself about the nature of life and when cells become "human". However, I think my biggest objection relates to the law of unintended consequences. What will happen if we really start to play with the building blocks of human life? I realize that many scientists will confidently proclaim "If we do X, than Y will occur."
That's nice. Forgive me if I do not share your confidence. Living material introduces an element of unpredictability that isn't present in simple mechanical creations. Nature is a funny thing. Even if you don't believe in design, I think a careful examination of the human body would lead you to the conclusion that things work the way they do for a reason. I have no reason to believe that the myriad of afflictions that affect humanty are any different.
What's that you say? Do I mean that people are supposed to die of cancer, diabetes, birth defects, and on and on?

Maybe. This is a concept I struggle with as the grandson of a man with Parkinson's, and having a father who died last year from a host of complications with diabetes. My Dad was the one to put it best: "Everyone has to die of something."

Dad was a science teacher. Science was the lens through which he viewed life. He really had no patience with religious or philosophical ideas such as the one I frequently find myself kicking around. Yet he came to the conclusion long ago that "nature" had a way of finding balance, and that if we didn't do something to control our numbers, and instead continue to push into places that we haven't been before, we will encounter emerging diseases. He also marveled at people's amazement at increases in deaths from cancer and things like that. He always thought that since people were living longer, and diseases that used to kill were now curable, it wasn't exactly a mystery why other diseases became more prevalent.

It is something that I occasionally consider. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I don't consider myself to be an ignoramus, either. Being the son of a science teacher, I got good grades in science in high school and college, won medals at our region's Science Olympiad every year, and still occasionally read a science book. (Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Casti's "Paradigm's Lost", Hawking's "A Brief History of Time", Kakio's "Hyperspace", to name a few.)

Where am I going with this? Perhaps I only want to answer the question "What are you thinking, questioning the big brains like you are?"

I'm glad you asked, and if you didn't, too bad. It's my blog, so I get talk about whatever I want to.
1. Things have a way of turning out very differently than expected.

There are many examples that I can think of. The maiden voyage of the Titanic. Television. The lab workers working with those harmless monkeys in Marburg, Germany. Starlink corn. The list goes on. Sometimes the variations are a disappointment, sometimes they are catestrophic.

2. Our abilites have come farther than our restraint.

We can do things with genetic material now that would have been beyond consideration twenty years ago. Now if someone can dream it up, you can bet someone else is already working on it. Computers can catalog, retrieve, and manipulate data at unheard of rates. The idea of a man-manipulated 'super bug' is commonplace. But genetic material does not always react in ways that scientific observation might lead one to conclude. Mutations to viruses and bacteria occur daily. Cancer is an abberation; it occurs when cells do not grow in the way that they 'should'.

And now, as a society, we sit with a modern-day Pandora's Box on our lap. We know that hope resides in the box, but we have no idea who her companions might be. The Devil sits on our left shoulder saying "They are not really people." or "They never consistuted viable humans anyway." The Angel sits on our right shoulder, whispering "Power over what life will and won't be is God's business, not yours." It is hard to hear the whispering for all the other noise around us. Finally, the few like me wonder if the ability to do something gives us the right to do something. We ask if we are wise enough as a species to deal with the effects the advance might spawn, and more importantly, if we are smart enough to confront the challanges we might set upon ourselves with out tinkering.

For myself, I don't trust us to deal well with what we find.

Turn Down the Music, Before Someone Calls the Cops!

Two more blog-friends stopped by this week, Big Dick and His Wonderful Consort, Kelly.
It is starting to get downright crowded around here.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Welcome to the (very) select cadre of readers who stop by to peruse my incoherent ramblings from time to time, Lady Heather of Suburbia. I'll link your fun blog just as soon as I re-teach myself how to do it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Something That's Been Nagging Me...

The Dread Emperor Misha's recent vitriol-laced attacks on the the sell-outs in the Republican party and the W himself over their recent and puzzling abandonment of conservative positions on such subjects as immigration, etc, have made me uncomfortable.

Let me clarify this statement. I am not uncomfortable because I am a dyed-in-wool Republican. I do not walk lock-step with the Party on anything, and at least, thus far, I still like the Repubs better than the alternative.

The thing that has been bugging me came clear last night in church.

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to the governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

1 Peter 2:13-17

I'll never tell the Dread Emperor how to be. I love venom-laced invective as much as the next guy. Especially when it is well-deserved. But, I realize now that these guys need our respect and prayers when they screw up while running things.

Always a change to make. I'm resigning myself to being a work in progress.

Fwench Backbone in Action

I got to my homepage this morning and was greeted with this headline. :

Am I the only one who finds it curious that the press here in America hasn't said too much about this?

But the 14kt Gold question is "Why haven't the Fwench started en masse deportations or jailings?"

I am starting to fear for western civilization. We are sooo afraid to offend that we won't object to the knife in our chest.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I just read a post over at the Rott on Condi's remarks to a Palestinian group likening their 'struggle' to the American Civil Rights Movement, and these 'freedom fighters to our founding fathers.

Somehow, "offensive" just doesn't get it done.

I am consistently amazed by the left's constant hypocracy, but to hear this mindless drivel escaping the lips of a so-called conservative? I am really starting to believe that there are no more choices in politics. Both parties are racing to the bottom. How many ways can they offend us, let us count.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Life Audit

For the three of you who read this, and actually care what it says, sorry I have been gone so long. I was having a "life audit". I didn't much care for the result. It is funny the lengths that God will go to to get your attention when you let important things he has put in your life get neglected. If you're reading, God, you got my attention, but then you already knew that.

What does this mean for me?
1. I have a lot of work to do to restore the most precious gift God has ever given to me in my life, but it can be done, and I have divinely inspired help.

2. My job is OK, but I have to take steps to make the practice my own, or go to a large firm where I can concentrate on just the type of work that I want to do.

3. I pay a whole lot less attention to how screwed up the world is. I was spending more time on that, than thinking about God, and being secure in the knowledge that I am a tourist here. Things are screwed up because the world isn't for me as a Christian.

4. Spending real time with Mrs. Blackiswhite, without the heirs, because marriage is important, and I haven't been treating it or her with proper care.

5. Coming to terms with my emotions. This is the hardest thing of all. With help, I have realized that I have been "stuffing" my emotions for as long as I can remember, which has lead to increasing toxicity and pressure until something that shouldn't makes me go ballistic. SCARY BALLISTIC. This requires a.) recognizing my emotions-a task in itself; b.) confronting, not stuffing them; and c.) communicating my feelings to my wife. [How does that make you feel? is a question that I have had to deal with a lot in the last month and a half.]

6. Knee-mail, and done daily. Maybe you find the concept of spiritual warfare laughable. I don't. Believers have to contend with someone who comes to decieve, to divide, to distract, to dsicourage, and to destroy. I looked at all the things going on in my life, and I realized that this is exactly what was going on. The first step to fixing it is to get right with God. Read the Bible, pray daily and be vigilant. There are things in your life that can discourage you, to make you doubt where things are going, to take your eyes off of the path that God has set forth. There will always be issues with the kids, with work, and times where you don't get enough time with each other. Financial issues are an easy distraction for him to throw in. Staying focused and praying daily will help.

Let me guess: You're thinking I'm crazy. Not true. I just got a direct refresher course in what really is important in life. Now go have a real conversation with your spouse. Play a game of cards already.