Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Post American World

Those commies on National Public Radio, Tom Ashbrook specifically, is currently interviewing Fareed Zakaria concerning his new book The Post American World. I haven't read it yet but I'm ordering from our library as I type. Discounting military power, the USA is being outpaced in many areas by other countries. No amount of nationalistic patriotism can deny that fact. As Zakaria points out, the book is not so much about the decline of the USA, but rather the rise of everyone else. This isn't a bash-America book. It's a wake-up call for us to understand what is happening, why it is happening and how to respond intelligently to globalization.

Gated Communities - All the Same

Here's an example of some good conservative rationalization. Walled communities in Bagdad are really no different from gated communities in the USA. That's what conservative Max Boot thinks.
It’s true that there are walls around Dora and other Baghdad neighborhoods. (Although as far as I know there aren’t any “contending ethnic neighborhoods” in Fallujah.) But then there are walls around many gated communities in the U.S. too.
These guys just cannot bring themselves to admit a mistake was made in going to war with Iraq. They will posit any excuse, no matter how stupid, to prove we are winning the war.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is There a Republican War on Science

In a very humorous op-ed in the NYT today, Michael Gerson (he was the Bush speech writer who coined the phrase "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" to get us into a war with Iraq)states that there is no such thing as a Republican "war on science". In fact, it's really just a ploy by Democrats to shut down political debate on science policy.
For the most part, these accusations are a political ploy -- actually an attempt to shut down political debate. Any practical concern about the content of government sex-education curricula is labeled "anti-science." Any ethical question about the destruction of human embryos to harvest their cells is dismissed as "theological" and thus illegitimate.
Gerson chooses his examples very carefully. Although I'm not sure where debate about sex-education curricula and stem cell research is being shut down by Democrats. What I am sure of is that the current Republican administration can surely be accused of running a "war on science". I don't need to go into details here....entire books have been written on the subject. For example, The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney.

Even better, read this report called Federal Science and the Public Good published by the Union of Concerned Scientist. They accuse the Bush administration of 1) falsifying data and fabricating results; 2) selectively editing reports and creating false uncertainty; 3) tampering with scientific procedures; 4) intimidating and coercing scientists; 5) censoring and suppressing scientists; 6) hiding, suppressing and delaying release of scientific findings; 7) disregarding legally mandated science; 8) allowing conflicts of interest and 9) corrupting scientific review panels.

Naturally, Gerson is aware of all these examples of the Republican war on science. It's surprising that a good, evangelical Christian like Gerson would stoop to writing a dishonest op-ed. What is his real purpose in the op-ed. Its to accuse liberals of running a "new eugenics", kind of like that run by the Nazis. Good luck with that one.

Gerson helped lie us into a war with Iraq. Now he wants to start rewriting the history of the Republican war on science.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Science Times and Nosology

If it's Tuesday it's NYT Science Time day. Today an especially interesting article caught my eye. It's about reclassifying diseases using molecular genetic techniques rather than grouping them by signs, symptoms, cause or pathology. The classification of diseases, by the way, is called nosology.

The Genomic Nosology for Medicine group at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics has found that certain diseases that are apparently very different actually utilize similar metabolic pathways. For instance, it appears Duchenne Muscular dystrophy activates many of the same genes that are activated in heart attacks. So two apparently different diseases may be more similar than one might think. Currently, there are over 12,000 diseases classified by the National Center for Health Statistics. You can find them in the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases here.

If this is generally the case, it is a very important finding. It means that we should immediately start mapping which genes are activated or deactivated in every disease. In other words, create a diseasome database. This is not as difficult as it might sound. It involves obtaining diseased tissue or blood and comparing which genes are activated or deactivated with similar genes in normal tissue. It's a big, expensive undertaking, but not technically difficult. It is done using "gene chip" technology and some powerful computer analysis.

One of the main advantages of this information is that it would allow us to try treating seemingly different diseases with drugs already developed for other diseases. In the case of Duchenne Muscular dystrophy....maybe treatment with drugs developed to treat heart attacks might help if the molecular pathways affected are similar.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hagee vs Wright

Why do we see Rev. Wright's comments over and over on TV but not the good Rev. Hagee - McCain supporter extraordinarie? Double standard?