February 6, 2010 archive

Paging Dr. Moreau (updated)

Gee, nothing could ever possibly go wrong with this:

The Pentagon’s mad science arm may have come up with its most radical project yet. Darpa is looking to re-write the laws of evolution to the military’s advantage, creating “synthetic organisms” that can live forever – or can be killed with the flick of a molecular switch.

As part of its budget for the next year (PDF), Darpa is investing $6 million into a project called BioDesign, with the goal of eliminating “the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement.” The plan would assemble the latest bio-tech knowledge to come up with living, breathing creatures that are genetically engineered to “produce the intended biological effect.” Darpa wants the organisms to be fortified with molecules that bolster cell resistance to death, so that the lab-monsters can “ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely.”

Of course, Darpa’s got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work – so they’ll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create “tamper proof” cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, “similar to a serial number on a handgun.” And if that doesn’t work, don’t worry. In case Darpa’s plan somehow goes horribly awry, they’re also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch.

Sounds like the procurement guys at DARPA have watched too many sci fi movies. Or too few.


Why don’t they just call it the Genesis project and be done with it?  At least that might get the teabaggers interested.

(tip: sound ON for maximum effect.)

Or maybe The Terminator would be more appropriate?


Boys from Brazil?

Jurassic Park?


Take your pick.  

Earth to DARPA: when it comes to genetic weaponry, happy endings only ever happen in the movies.


And speaking of genetically engineered killing machines, we certainly can’t forget these guys:

The Dalek Project fits quite nicely, I think.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Bill Clinton apologizes for slow Haiti aid effort

by Andrew Beatty

Fri Feb 5, 10:11 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Former US president Bill Clinton pledged to try to get aid flowing as he was met by angry Haitians protesting the slow arrival of help since last month’s quake.

Clinton said he was sorry that the aid efforts had been so slow, adding he also wanted to understand why more than three weeks after the January 12 quake supplies were still not getting through to desperate Haitians.

“I’m sorry it’s taken this long,” Clinton said, adding he and other relief workers were working hard to ease the suffering.

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness.

I’m still here in Haiti winding up my stay and turning over my responsibilities to my replacement who will be here for 3 months. I still have lots to do. There are still the patients and the never ending reports that need to be done to keep the flow of supplies coming. I’m leaving Feb 13 with mixed feelings becasue there is still so much to be done.

“The Winter of America’s Discontent”

Our leaders have offered excuse after excuse to try to explain why they won’t can’t pass social legislation.  Not since the time of LBJ have they passed any social legislation of significance.  Why could LBJ get such landmark legislation pushed through Congress as the following, and in such a very short time frame, while the Democratic majority of both Houses of Congress and a Democratic Administration is mired in self-inflicted gridlock?  Here’s a reminder of what was accomplished in two short years a few decades ago (and these are just the really big ones–there were many more also passed, and worth a few minutes to check them out  here : (all emphasis mine)

Open Snow


Super Bowl Food Fest

What are you fixing for the big game? My daughter e-mailed me to let me know I was going to miss her seafood gumbo, buffalo wings, onion/vegetable dip and brownies. I’ll be eating MRE’s or rather the French version RCIR, Ration de Combat Individuelle Rechauffable.


Each RCIR contains

Each box includes: Main meals x2, Hors d’oeuvre, Soup, Cheese or a Crème dessert, Salted and Sweet crackers x16, Chocolate bar, Package of caramels, Gum, “Breakfast package” (Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Milk powder, Sugar, etc), Nougat bar, Fruit gelee, Sugar cubes, Paper towels x10, Heating kit with fuel, disposable stove, waste bag and water purification tablets x6, etc.

There are pork and no pork versions and they come with cute little stove but, alas, no wine. We have managed to find a source for wine, beer and other alcohol. The RCIR’s are quite “valuable” in the world of barter when living in less than civilized conditions like war zones and disaster areas.

Anyway, I digress. I offer up my famously HOT, in more ways than one, recipe for Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese Dip.

What are you cooking? Feel free to share recipes, ideas for solo viewing or for a crowd.

Keeping Expectations of Leadership in Check

It is a truism that leaders are few and followers are numerous.  This is itself an inequality that we don’t often contemplate, nor feel any compulsion to amend by direct action.  No flurry of blog postings or activist group with a message statement to convey has ever proposed that we ought to consider revising this important discrepancy.  This may be because the gap itself is likely a construct of biology, for whatever reason.  One wishes perhaps the numbers would be a bit more balanced, certainly not flip-flopped, since if most of us were leaders, we’d never get anything accomplished.  In that regard, herding cats might be putting it lightly.  Still, as it stands, for whatever reason, those who lead hold minority status and as such they often easily manage to attract followers to their causes and private bandwagon.  It is another paradox of human behavior that while most minorities find reduced numbers much to their detriment, those who lead find the fact that they are relatively few in number much to their benefit.    

We always seem to return to the example of the Great Man or Great Woman, the almost superhuman being who through his or her personal skill fixes all outstanding problems and provides mass unity.  We should really know better than to expect that one single person could save us from ourselves, but to some extent, it isn’t surprising why can so easily opt for this belief.  Two thousand plus years of a Christ-centered framework leads us to expect that a Messiah will rescue us, whether we acknowledge it consciously or not.  This is true whether we’re Christian, Jewish, or not a person of faith at all.  I myself recognize that I’m still waiting for Jesus to return, and would gladly fall at his feet to offer my assistance if I knew for certain he had returned.  If the Second Coming arrived, some would doubt to the very end, some would desire proof, and some would resist altogether purely for their own reasons.  Many, however, would breathe a sigh of relief, and quickly fall in line behind him.    

Recent developments with political leaders have showed what happens when power corrupts, temptation leads to bad decisions, or disappointment sets in when high hopes are not realized.  There is certainly enough fault to spread around if we seek to assign blame.  However, that is not exactly my intent with this post.  Nor am I seeking to absolve those who let their own shortcomings destroy the good will and good stead they formerly held.  With power, charisma, and charm comes temptation of all kinds–monetary gain and sexual gratification only but two of them.  I seek to bring light, in part, to the fact that those in leadership roles who court the adoration of the crowds, instantly reap all the benefits and all of the drawbacks in the process.  If I, for example, stand up before an attentive audience and impress them with the cogency of my arguments, the eloquence of my rhetoric, or otherwise strike a nerve, I can expect to receive compliments, flirtatious glances or conversation, and an instant kind of immediate attention and personal favor with those who until a moment before were complete strangers.  Everyone wants to be my friend, at least for that moment.

A close associate is fond of advancing a particular theory concerning this phenomenon.  His example concerns the immediacy of live music, but it works well in this context, too.  As he puts it, the reason we find it so easy to be attracted to to musicians, in particular, is that we see our own best qualities reflected in whomever is singing or playing.  A powerful emotional intimacy is present in that moment that perhaps speaks more to us and our condition than to those on stage.  This concept may wash over political leaders as well, particularly when on the stump, particularly when their personal charisma renders them something close to celebrity.  They inspire so much in us:  adoration, trust, envy, hope, desire, and so on.  That we would entrust them so willingly with all of these in the blink of an eye makes me wonder how anyone who stands out in front can survive for long, with or without the benefit of handlers.  It takes a tremendously strong person to not succumb to distraction, properly handle the stress, stay on message, and not get waylaid by a thousand wild goose chases.  It is precisely our demands upon which they must conform and though they never are allowed to forget, this doesn’t mean that they’re always in the easiest position to respond.  We expect much in return for our trust and our affections and the conditions of the transaction are both numerous and exacting.            

So long as we expect perfection from our leaders, we can never see them for their gloriously flawed humanity and never forgive them for their frailties.  We sometimes treat these figures as though they were our lover, one which always must say the right thing at the right time and halfway read our minds.  Assuming they were the keeper of our heart, we would then need to concede that we would need to love them not just for their best qualities, but also for their worst.  We can easily be dismayed, demoralized, and distressed at the behavior and conduct of those we idolize, certainly, but forgiveness is a concept ultimately foreign to us far too often.  If it arrives, it arrives late, if ever at all, and it is yielded grudgingly.  How often have I “forgiven” someone by mentioning, “Well, I’ll forgive you this once, but you better not do it again, or I’ll never speak to you again”.  

This ought not excuse mediocrity, philandering, or a distressing turn towards hypocrisy, but it might better explain a bit better some of the hypocrisies buried within our minds.  We often say we’d never want to be a celebrity, a politician, or anyone with the same degree of constant media exposure and with it a fishbowl work environment, but many of us would also jump at the chance if it were available to us someday.  I’m not so much advancing a notion that we ought to Leave People in the Public Eye Alone™ but that we need to look within ourselves and examine why we thrust so much of our entire selves, dreams, and aspirations towards whomever might have ability, courage, or God-given talents of oratory and authenticity.  They certainly use our faith in them for their own benefit, as is part of the beast, and hopefully never forget the potency of the dreams of thousands upon thousands.  If this truly were a relationship rather than a social contract, there would be disturbingly equal proportions of sadism and masochism present.  

As it stands now, this compact is a curious kind of two-step, whereby we give all of ourselves to whomever represents us formally, with the requisite number of strings attached that we put in place in an effort that ensure that our personal wish list is followed without in order and without flaw.  As for those who would lead or stand out from the pack, raising the bar high, be it in music, entertainment, or politics sets a huge precedent in place and some can rise to the challenge by hitting another home run out of the park, though many fall short.  It would seem, then, that the responsibility to keep things in proper proportion is everyone’s.  We may not be able to close the gap regarding the number of those who lead versus those who follow, but we can make strides toward adopting a much more feasible strategy, one that would lead to fewer headaches and fewer feelings of betrayal.  To me, forgiveness could be a solution.  And by this I don’t mean forgiveness for selfish reasons like the ability to successfully cross off another item on a voluminous to-do list, but forgiveness out of a realization that doing so would encourage true healing.  True healing leads to group health.  If Jesus does return someday, he would expect nothing less.    

Snow & Teabaggers Oh my.

Good morning everyone!!!!  It’s just after 9 AM eastern and its snowing hoots and gails, can’t give an estimate on depth other than to say the dog I’m dog sitting, Titan – and 82 pound lab,  went to the door to take his morning constitutional looked out swiveled looked at me and went back to bed.  supposedly here in the Kentucky of New Jersey (Ocean County) were expecting up to 2 feet or so; a depth we just don’t get here.

Anyway, that being said I started the coffee, kicked the dog in the butt, toasted some cinnamon raisin bread and turned on the tube.  What a waste,  CNN gave so much time to the TeaBaggers and there circle jerk I remembered why I dont watch CNN.  After Tancrado’s  comments regarding a civil literacy test and  “People who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House,”  I mean Lord Pasta Monster who the f*&k is this nut and even more importantly who are his followers.  The FBI should be infiltrating there organizations for fear that they are traitors, terrorists, and generally nut cases.  

Then again Adolf was sent into the National Socialist Party as a spy and ended up taking over.  We all know what happened then.  The similarities are striking though.  A small cadre of loons, thugs, disaffected loosers, racists and ‘patriots’ are the core of what could become our version of the Brown Shirts.  Hell I’m just waiting on the the first lynchings.

Oh well BIO has Stevie Nicks on,  she’s still soooooo Hot.  and I’ve got cleaning to do. Shoveling can wait till we get the last 12 inches they are calling for.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/poli…


Gerard Alexander: Tell me again?

Gerard Alexander, associate professor of Stupid Questions and AEI fellow, writes an op-ed in WaPo asking, “Why are liberals so condescending?”  Gee, I dunno, Doc.  

Why is Elmer Fudd a nitwit?  

Fire In The Belly – Pt 3: Progressives & The Democratic Party

Journalism professor Jeff Cohen of FAIR and the Park Center for Independent Media on the struggle within the Democratic Party, starting from the Viet Nam War:

There’s no doubt that there’s an awakening. What concerns me is that the liberal base, the Democratic Party base, has never been more educated, in my view, and that’s because of the independent media. The democratic base is against an imperial foreign policy. The democratic base is for real medicare for all, or at least the strongest public option that would really hurt private insurance. There’s an understanding of history, and again it’s largely because the independent media is giving us the news in real time, every day when we click on the computer and we watch Real News, we watch Democracy Now.

What hasn’t translated is while we have this boom in independent media on the Internet, we don’t have a boom of independent politics.

What I believe are needed are new groups, that will be on the Internet, mobilizing the millions to make the kinds of demands of the Democrats that the right wing base, which has clearly transformed the country, the right wing base in the Republican Party not only took over a major party, they haven’t let up on that party until their agenda is put in place, whereas on our side we don’t have that.

What needs to happen, this is what a few groups are doing, Progressive Democrats of America is one, the idea is we need to take over that major political party.

When people talk about change, and then they deliver only for insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street, you vote them out. You primary them. You know this is what the right wing has done for decades. It’s what they’re doing now.

What we get from MoveOn historically and other groups is apologies for democratic office holders who have faked left with their rhetoric and then governed for big business. And what we need is to primary these people.

Frankly… I would love to see a primary challenge to Obama when he’s up for re-election.

Because unless you build a base through elections and then you hold the officials accountable, then you’ll never get anywhere.

Real News Network – February 6, 2010

This is Part 3. Part 1 of this interview is here. Part 2 is here.

Part 4 is still to come…

The People Won One Yesterday (Dja Miss It?)

Friday marked a major victory in a six-year-long struggle by small farmers in the US. I’m betting, dear reader, that you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about.

The Department of Agriculture announced yesterday its decision to drop NAIS (the National Animal Identification System). This was a voluntary program to identify and track meat and dairy animals wherever they went in the country.

NAIS was started in 2004 by the Bush Administration after a cow with mad cow disease was discovered in Washington State. To non-farmers, this may seem like a sensible measure, but remind yourself, you don’t know a lot of detail about how the meat you buy winds up in that plastic-wrapped Styrofoam container at the supermarket–or on the shish-kebab stick on that whole wheat pita at the Arab takeout place.

Docudharma Times Saturday February 6

Saturday’s Headlines:

Tea Party turns nasty: ‘It’s our country – let’s take it back’

Why do losers keep gambling? Brain to blame

Sarah Palin, Vocal and Ready … but for What?

Paulson’s book details GE chief’s private concerns in 2008 over company’s debt

Iran says ‘final’ deal on uranium exchange is near

Lebanese fear stall in tribunal on Hariri slaying

Leading article: The eurozone faces its most difficult test yet

Ukraine’s presidential showdown in danger of erupting on streets

Transatlantic, meet Pacific: China’s bold stance at Munich security conference

Desperation fuels North Korea’s leniency

Former leader Nelson Mandela retraces steps of his Long Walk to Freedom

Missionaries turn on their leader over ‘kidnapping’ of Haiti children

Load more