Monday, May 30, 2005

Christianity Vs. Neo-Paganism: A Musical Case Study

"Good King Wenceslas", Christian version: The King and his page bring gifts to a poor man.

"Good King Wenceslas", Neo-Pagan version: The King and his page bring gifts to the woodland creatures.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ethical Stem Cell Research: A New Solution?

For critics of embryonic stem cell research such as myself, the criticism is one of means, not ends. If ethical means of stem cell therapy can be found -- such as adult-derived rather than embryo-derived stem cells -- I have no problem with their application, and may even benefit from it personally.

That there may be several such approaches to stem cell research that avoid ethical problems is suggested by this Wired article on the research of William Hurlbut. Hurlbut proposes using modified embryonic cells that will provide stem cells but lack the inherent potential to continue developing and thus die of "natural causes" early on. As the article points out, this is not without possible ethical questions, but it's encouraging to me because it suggests with a little bit of imagination and ingenuity, we can design methods that make potential therapies possible to do without compromising ourselves ethically.

Provided the will is there, of course. The one disturbing note in the article is the fact that opposition to Hurlbut's proposal is coming from scientists themselves. Perhaps accusing them of being ideologically and self-servingly motivated on this issue is unfair, but it does make me wonder how much of researchers' rhetoric about "wanting to help people" is honest given that they torpedo alternate approaches that may in fact get such therapies to the public faster and with less political violence.

But all in all, positive news.

[Would it be too vulgar to say, "Go kick ass, Dr. Hurlbut?" No, but you would be guilty of a very punny crime -- Ed.]

UPDATE: Hey Virginia, check out what this blockhead has to say:
"Many people believe human life -- a person -- begins in a woman's uterus, in the mother's womb, not in a Petri dish or a test tube," [stem cell researcher] Lanza said in an e-mail.
Kind of proves my point, eh Postrel?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Random Thought

If you were to be kept alive as a detached head, would you suffer from phantom body pains?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Nazi Seduction

Jean Bethke Elshtain on why the Nazis captivate our attention in a way other totalitarians do not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Reefer Roommate

Pothead in the morning
Pothead in the evening
Pothead at suppertime
With Bob's homemade super-bong
He can be a pothead anytime

Well, that break did not last for long. It seems I've traded an insane conspiracy theorist for a marijuana addict. It's rather ironic considering my long-standing, intense animosity toward weed-smokers. (Ha ha, God. Very funny.)

Maybe I should just see it as extra motivation for finishing this thing...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Genius or Garbage?

After almost a decade of ignoring it, I listened to U2's Achtung Baby again, and in "One" came across what always struck me as a remarkable lyric:

Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head?

That line is either absolutely brilliant, or some of the most laughably pretentious drivel I've ever heard. I still can't decide which.

Zen at War

One of the many shibboleths of pop culture's take on spirituality is the image of Buddhism as the planet's most peaceful religion -- in contrast, naturally, to those oppressive, war-mongering Christian sects. But anyone with a little knowledge beyond the romanticised and sanitized New Agey portraits realizes that Buddhism has its own history of bloodshed and toadying to worldly power. This is especially true for Japan, where Zen in particular became intertwined with the samurai and later colonial militarism. A good overview of Buddhism's role in 19th and 20th Century Japanese militarism is provided by this book review: Zen at War.

(Via a commenter at The Jawa Report.)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Andrea Flays Matt Fox (With A Little Help from Benedict XVI)

Andrea Harris unloads both barrels on the latest bit of silliness from Matthew Fox (he of the weeing musical bears). Not to be missed!

Friday, May 13, 2005

I'm Back!

Hey Varenius fans! I'm back again! Did you miss me???

[crickets chirping]

Oooohh... kaaaayyyy... [ahem] Well, my chirpy little friends might be interested to know I had a truly horrendous but ultimately triumphant! week. At long last...

I be ABD!!!! Woohoo!!


Now what?

Oh yes, that thing called sleep would be nice.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Welcome Fellow Apologia Fans!

I see the esteemed William Luse has taken notice of my reemergence. Welcome, one and all! The basic idea behind this blog can be found here.

I'm temporarily in a bit of blogging lull, but once I've finished with my current project I will be posting more. I plan to continue my extended series on dramatic future technologies such as Radical Life Extension, first coming up with all the potential negatives, then attempting to sketch positive counterarguments, and finally trying to envision the most positive possible scenario for them (more to calm my own fears than anything else!). Please stay tuned!