Friday, March 16, 2007

In The Event Of Us Getting Married And Being On Our Honeymoon, This Blog Will Not Be Updated

I'll be back March 31st'ish.

My bride-to-be and home-to-be await me! Wedding tomorrow, then to Maui!

(Click to zoom)

Free Image Hosting at

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why Would I Want My Doctor To Have Studied French Literature?

Great essay here:


The folks at the Alliance for Science have sponsored an essay contest for high school students. They ask students to write an essay on ‘Why I would want my doctor to have studied evolution.’ First prize is a copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species. Second prize is two copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species! (Just kidding.)

Really, it’s a funny question. Think about it. Would anyone sponsor an essay contest on ‘Why I would want my doctor to study anatomy’ or ‘Why I would want my doctor to study physiology’? Of course not, because we all know that these kinds of science are important to medicine. Is evolutionary biology important? If it is, why do they have to ask the question?

Doctors don’t study evolution. Doctors never study it in medical school, and they never use evolutionary biology in their practice. There are no courses in medical school on evolution. There are no ‘professors of evolution’ in medical schools. There are no departments of evolutionary biology in medical schools.

If you needed treatment for a brain tumor, your medical team would include a physicist (who designed the MRI that diagnosed your tumor), a chemist and a pharmacologist (who made the medicine to treat you), an engineer and an anesthesiologist (who designed and used the machine that give you anesthesia), a neurosurgeon (who did the surgery to remove your tumor), a pathologist (who studied the tumor under a microscope and determined what type of tumor it was), and nurses and oncologists (who help you recover and help make sure the tumor doesn’t come back). There would be no evolutionary biologists on your team.

I am a professor of neurosurgery, I work and teach at a medical school, I do brain research, and in 20 years I’ve performed over 4000 brain operations. I never use evolutionary biology in my work. Would I be a better surgeon if I assumed that the brain arose by random events? Of course not. Doctors are detectives. We look for patterns, and in the human body, patterns look very much like they were designed. Doctors know that, from the intricate structure of the human brain to the genetic code, our bodies show astonishing evidence of design. That’s why most doctors—nearly two-thirds according to national polls—don’t believe that human beings arose merely by chance and natural selection. Most doctors don’t accept evolutionary biology as an adequate explanation for life. Doctors see, first-hand, the design of life.

I do use many kinds of science related to changes in organisms over time. Genetics is very important, as are population biology and microbiology. But evolutionary biology itself, as distinct from these scientific fields, contributes nothing to modern medicine...

Good Question

Found in the comments here:

I like what Alistair McGrath asked. “If believing in Jesus Christ is the same as believing in the tooth fairy, how many people do you know who started to believe in the tooth fairy in their mid twenties whilst at university?”

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Creed For The Only True Faith

Via Mark Shea:

We believe in Global Warming
the Sea-Raiser, the All-Powerful,
maker of tsunami and hurricane,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Cause, The Activities of Man,
the lowest of all creatures,
except the ones that are brown.
Gasses from Coal, not Recycling from Blight, true Cause from true Gasoline, made, not begotten, of Driving when One Could Walk; through Man all pollutions were made.
For us and for our salvation
Gore came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Nader
and the Virgin Chomsky
and became truly political.
For our sake he was un-elected
under Pontius Harris;
he suffered defeat and was retired.
On the third year he rose again
in accordance with the Documentatrians;
he ascended into Hollywood
and is seated at the right hand
of the Film Executives.
He will come again in glory
to judge the polluting and the recycling,
and his kingdom will have a biodegradable end.

We believe in Global Warming, the Destroyer,
and the taker of life,
who proceeds from the Car and the Industry,
who with the Suburbs and the Factory Farm
is worshiped and glorified,
by the prophets of GREED.
We believe in the scientists who agree with us
and our beliefs.
We accept the starvation of Billions,
for the forgiveness of environmental sins.
We look for the return to subsistence farming,
and the whole grain life of the world to come.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Kill Dash Nine!

Some good Nerdcore rap by some Stanford engineering students. Yo. I am down with it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Refreshing Surprise

The Yahoo homepage is highlighting a very sensible answer to a common question, and it isn't the usual secularist foolishness.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Urban Design


Anyway. The Professor’s views, or more accurately my objection to his views, are best expressed in his opinion of the skyways, the second-story bridges that connect most of downtown. They gave rise to a second-floor retail economy that did not exist before, and granted, they had a hand in siphoning off the retail and energy of the first floor. But downtown retail was headed south ever since the end of WW2, and the price seemed fair for what what we got: a sprawling urban center punctuated by enclosed plazas and public places, lined with restaurants and shops, with views of the street below. You can walk to lunch without a coat and come back with all your toes and fingers. In the brutal summer, you can dine in comfort. I love them. They’re one of the truly unique things about this city. The professor, well, he’s less sure.

His opinion of the skyways:

“Good in some ways, but they are too private, exclusive, and don’t help built the 24-hour city [living, working, shopping, mixing] that we need.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about. Private? Well, they are privately owned, inasmuch as the system winds its way through private buildings, and the rules of the street don’t apply; you can’t upend a pickle-bucket and bang away for nine hours for spare change, like you can on the street below. Most people are willing to sacrifice this freedom, it seems. Exclusive? I never noticed the bouncers and the velvet rope. If he means that the commercial purposes of the stores has an exclusionary effect on those who don’t have the means to shop, perhaps, but such a person could walk the system all day without anyone asking to see their receipts. “Don’t help build the 24-hour city”? Minneapolis is not New York. Minneapolis is not Chicago. We’re not big enough to have a 24-hour downtown. I don’t even know what that means. People live downtown, work there, shop there, and “mix.” They’re just not doing it at 3 AM. They’re asleep.

You might be wondering just what he’s on about, and I share your confusion. I too am fascinated by urban design, particularly the mistakes made by the previous designers. Like freeways, for example – some of the decisions made about our freeway system were ill-considered and short-sighted. But others will insist that the freeway system itself was a mistake, because it allowed people to leave the city. This almost – almost, mind you – suggests that the traditional model for urban habitation is an unalloyed good that must be held together by force, and that anything that allows people to choose an alternative must be judged not on what it provides people in general, but how it affects the city.

In which camp might we find the subject of the interview? Well, when discussing his concepts of “design,” and how cities might be better organized, we get a whiff:

“We’ve been doing work with homeless teenage mothers,” he says. “In wondering how to make things better –“

Stop. Homeless teenage mothers. One of those conditions is immutable. One of them is a matter of choice. One of them arises from a combination of the other two. If you want to make things better, perhaps you’d concentrate on the attribute most closely aligned with individual choice? Apparently not:

“ – I asked if the problem was housing or train or transportation They said it was all of those. They can’t get from affordable hosing to day care to a job and back again because we’ve designed a bus system for the benefit of the operators (??), housing at the behest of zooming code and jobs that require a car, which people can’t afford. This is a classic design problem.”

Well. As the adage has it, if all you have is a degree in Design, everything looks like a design problem. You, bus driver operator! Move that route closer to the teenaged unwed mother’s house! You there, subsidized day-care – shimmy over a mile to the left and a few versts the south, so the teenaged unwed mother can take the bus to your place without having to transfer. You there, “supplier” of jobs, even though you merely leech off the labor of others and turn the profit into a smooth cream you rub on your spats-chafed ankles - move the jobs into the city near the teenage unwed mother’s house and daycare.

It would be easier if the teenaged unwed mother wasn’t a mother or wasn’t unwed, but those problems do not present the delicious opportunities to Design. And by “design,” I suspect they mean what the mold-breakers and the paradigm-crackers and all the rest of the utopians and revolutionaries mean:

“A whole new mind is required,” the professor goes on to say. Sigh. A whole new doubeplus newthink mind, brother, until oldthink unbellyfeel. “The legalistic way of looking at things – black or white, public or private, win or lose – does not match real life.”

Beware people who regard the distinctions between public and private as a mere legality, and one based on subjective viewpoint at that. In the end, they can define anything private as public, which gives them the right to take it away. And if you lose something you own, well, “loss” is a subjective concept as well that does not match real life. Or at least the real life you can understand if you have a whole new mind.

I still don’t know what he wants, except something that’s well-designed. From the interview:

Q. Let’s consider a local example: Minneapolis’ pending policy on downtown transportation. Most of the emphasis has been on getting bus commuters in and out faster. Is that the best focus?

A. That’s what happens when a project is given over to engineers who think mostly about how fast they can move the traffic and not on the quality of the urban experience itself.

I think if you asked most people waiting for the bus if they would rather A) get home quickly, or B) have a quality urban experience, the first option would nose ahead by a comfortable margin. Is it better to sit on a bus for an hour if you can look at trees and the occasional abstract sculpture, or is it better to get home quickly so you can be with your family, or dog, or just relax in that legalistic private space to which people are so inordinately attached?

More good stuff follows.

The End Of This Gravy Train Is Going To Be Ugly

Government. Is there anything it can't do?

Weyall Butter My Butt An' Call Me-A-Biskit!

Ah din't know tha' Hillary wuz one a dem Southern folk. Take a listen here, all y'all!

Oh, My Ears And Whiskers!

Nice little ABC News video piece on chronic tardiness.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

There Is More In Heaven And Earth...

This is just plain fascinating.

It Took Me Five Years To Replace Windows ME, I Figure I'm Good With XP For Another Five

I'm starting to get the impression that Vista, like all Microsoft products (except XP), sucks. Here's a good jumping-off point to learn why.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Giving Gore What For

That's what The Anchoress does in this post.

I'm Not Who I Was

Stumbled across a neat song and video at Dawn Eden's site. A good testament to transforming grace.

Those Who Can Think, Argue For Their Position, Those Who Can't, Hurl Profanities

The blogger Instapunk made the following challenge the other day:

I propose an exercise to be performed by those who have the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this: Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George Carlin's infamous '7 Dirty Words.'

Initial research indicates that the blogospheric left spews potty-mouthed locutions at somewhere between an 18 to 1 and a 44 to 1 ratio compared to the blogospheric right.


Gee, What A Surprise

"Soros buys 1.9 million shares in Halliburton."