The True Beginning of the Rambles


I have very little doubt that almost all of those reading this will be coming straight from my deviantart account, with maybe one or two just checking out random blogger posts. Regardless of that fact, however, I am going to start with a bit of background as an introduction.


By now you may have heard (front page of the Star, a piece on Q earlier today, probably more places) of the new breakthrough with stem cells. If you haven't, it goes something like this: by activating four genes in adult mammalian cells, the cells get put into a state where they can function like stem cells. This is huge, without a doubt, but it isn't the birth of the "ethical stem cell" that the Star is claiming.
These cells are not useable in anything more than tests. They can't be told how to grow after this point, and when spurred on to change, they become tumors of random material. Useful? Eventually.
The thing that bothers me most about this is that it's science walking lightly around a political issue. Sure, this technique is cheap, easy and efficient, but you know what's even more so? Directly harvesting actual stem cells.


My reading of the God Delusion was actually spurred mostly by the increased interest I've had in religious matters over the last while. This increased interest is because (mostly) of my subscription to the RSS feed at scienceblogs. A good number of them, as I've mentioned, often deal with stories relating to religious absurdity. Not that that is the sole reason I picked up the book, as I've heard Dawkins' name mentioned (as well as him speaking a time or two, I think) on CBC several times, and of course I've always heard the same stories that get mass media attention as everyone else about religion. You know, the wars, murders, rapes. That sort of thing.

Well, the last few days have been a hell of time for organized religion. We have a muslim girl beaten to death by her own father for refusing to think of herself as property, three jewish people were set upon by a crowd of "young civilians" (good christian children) for wishing "Happy Hanukka," and, the most stomach churning of all; Nigerian priests are killing children. Okay, so, technically, it's the parents doing the killing.

This is a select sample of what I've read about over the last several days - the worst of the bunch. I'll go into each a little.