Tag Archives: NIE

Repost: Adult Stem Cells FTW

A colony of embryonic stem cells, from the H9 ...
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This is a repost in light of the recent news that the news media finally picked up on the fact that adult stem cells are cutting the butter and embryonic stem cells are still only a load of hype… er, tripe.

Anyway, here’s what we knew 3 years ago:

In case you didn’t know: adult stem cells have been used for years to successfully treat a wide range of conditions successfully. Private companies have seen the success and have poured large amounts of money into programs exploring the benefits of stem cells derived from adult adipose (fat) tissue, marrow, and other sources.

So what’s all the hubbub over skin cells? And why are embryonic stem cells such a hot topic?

In a chokingly self-important article which seems to further support Dennis Prager‘s assertion that liberals can go their whole lives without meeting a conservative, Time Magazine claims the recent discoveries about the ability of skin-derived stem cells to differentiate (grow into different organs, technically called pluripotency) will not benefit the GOP. Come again? What does good science have to do with politics? And do you even know the history of the issue? I thought not, the MSM conveniently does not read any medical journals unless their tipped off by some juicy tidbit they may use to further their own radical agenda.

The article’s author, Michael Kinsley, says he has Parkinsons, a disease for which stem cells hold great potential in curing. Current Parkinsons treatments using embryonic stem cells turns the patients into shaking, slobbering babes incapable of the most basic self-care. Embryonic stem cells have a more direct and immediate potential for pluripotency as that is what they do: they turn into cells for each organ and tissue in the body. Unfortunately their growth is uncontrollable right now and they end up turning effectively into tumors in the brains of those who are injected with them.

On top of this, the ethical and moral issues involving the harvesting of human embryos are staggering and I fall in with those myriad souls who fight to stop the harvesting and destruction of human life with the goal of bettering human life. How far removed are we from Nazi Germany, when diabolical doctors of death practiced upon innocents by the millions to further the happiness of the rest of humanity? Is that a worthwhile trade?

In fact, to date there has not been a single successful treatment of any condition or disease using stem cells harvested from embryos.

Private sector investment has shunned embryonic stem cell lines, which means the only group which can be coerced into paying for these death-dealers research projects is… us. The government largess is available to any who crow loud and long enough, and it comes from yours and my pocket books and paychecks.

Private sector research has all gone towards adult stem cell research which offers very potent benefits over embryonic stem cells.

  • Adult stem cells suffer no chance of rejection from their host. Adult stem cells are collected from the person they will be used on, meaning the organs grown from them carry the exact biological and genetic “fingerprint” of the rest of the body, there is zero chance of rejection of these treatments.
  • Adult stem cells are given voluntarily as part of treatment. There is no moral or ethical morass involved in the collection of the these cells.
  • Adult stem cells can differentiate under controlled conditions. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which differentiate wildly and which we are currently unable to control, adult stem cells pluripotency can be controlled in application with greater reliability.

So we have an issue where the successful treatment and therefore all the private money has gone in one direction, but a few stubborn souls insist on using disinformation and outright lies to promote a morally reprehensible treatment system which would have been likely looked upon with distaste by most of the Nazi death doctors in hopes of getting us to pay for a treatment process with no current success and little promise.

“If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.” ~James A. Thomson

UPDATE:

Hugh Hewitt references Charles Krauthammer’s article on the issue. Bush was right, technology vindicates morality:

Even a scientist who cares not a whit about the morality of embryo destruction will adopt this technique because it is so simple and powerful. The embryonic stem cell debate is over.

Which allows a bit of reflection on the storm that has raged ever since the August 2001 announcement of President Bush’s stem cell policy. The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president — so vilified for a moral stance — been so thoroughly vindicated.

Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance. Precisely because, as Thomson puts it, Bush was made “a little bit uncomfortable” by the implications of embryonic experimentation. Precisely because he therefore decided that some moral line had to be drawn.

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The “Tanking” Economy, the Housing Bubble, and What Happened

         The New York Stock Exchange has been down a lot over the past couple of months.  It’s down about fifteen percent from its high of just over 14,000.  Many people are wondering why and how far it is going to fall.  This is my attempt to explain why it has been falling.

            Our story actually begins in the housing and sub-prime loan markets.  As many of you know, mortgage companies don’t actually have the millions and millions of dollars they loan to homebuyers.  What they do instead is make a loan, say for $250,000, and try to find some investor (generally a bank or some other financial entity) to buy the mortgage.  The company serves as a middle man between the homebuyer and large financial institutions. 

            What has begun happening recently is firms have been buying large numbers of mortgages of all different sizes and interest rates and rolling them into one package, kind of like a mutual fund.  They then began to sell shares of this “fund” to investors and investment banks.  This has never been done before.  People on Wall Street have never been able to buy shares in a mortgage security because mortgage securities didn’t exist.

            Now investments are rated based upon their safety as an investment.  For example, a triple AAA rating means that the stock or mutual fund you are buying is pretty safe and unlikely to fall far in value – wiping out your investment.  It also means the return will probably not be as high as other investments.  A single A rating means that the stock isn’t as safe as the triple AAA, but could potentially have a higher return. 

            Well the various companies that have created the rating system needed to rate these mortgage securities.  In some cases they gave triple A ratings, in others double and single A ratings.  Then the mortgage securities were marketed based on these ratings.

            So like any bubble, there was far too much exuberance in the market for these funds and they were overpriced and overrated.  That was one problem.  The deeper problem, however, is that mortgage companies began making lots of bad loans (e.g. requiring no down payments from the people they were lending to, not checking credit history, proof of income, etc.)  This was not a big problem until the housing market started to slump. 

When the values of houses started falling, those people who had taken a $400,000 mortgage out on a $400,000 house found themselves with a $400,000 mortgage on a house that was now worth $350,000.  Not a good place to be.  So they just walked away (that means the bank foreclosed on their house.)  But no one is in a good situation here.  The bank is left with a house worth less than the loan it made and these people are down a home.  There were a couple of other issues about variable interest rates that I won’t go into here.  The point is that there was a huge increase in the number of people defaulting on their mortgage loans.

            So big picture, these mortgage based securities that were being doled out like mutual funds, started collapsing.  All of a sudden people began to realize that these securities were not as valuable as they had initially thought.  So the price began to plummet.  And to make things worse, no one really knows how to evaluate the worth of these securities.  The fact that they are so new and the rates of defaults on loans are variable makes people afraid to purchase the securities; even after they have fallen substantially in price. 

            Here’s where it affects the credit market.  Some of the chief buyers of these securities were giant investment banks, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, etc.  The investment bankers at these firms made varying degrees of stupid decisions.  At Bear Stearns, for example, the investment bankers bought the securities on margin, which means they were borrowing money against their current assets to buy more shares of the securities.  Though always a risky idea, if your investments are good it’s not a problem.  Once these securities started crashing though, the market froze.  No one was willing to buy but everyone wanted to sell.  So Bear Sterns went from having 800 billion dollars worth of securities in its investment branch to 300 billion dollars worth in a week or two (Note, these are not the literal numbers but they are characteristic of the idea).  And, because they had bought on margin, they still owed the hundreds of billions of dollars they had borrowed.

           This is why the market is unhappy.  Hundreds of billions of dollars have just disappeared.  These are not literal paper dollars, but electronic dollars in the credit market.  This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to take out new loans.  The Federal Reserve has stepped in to try and fix the problem, but that is a completely different story.

            What does this mean?  Well, credit markets are in turmoil.  No one knows how to value these securities.  A number of lending companies have gone bankrupt.  These financial problems affect the economy by limiting business’s and individual’s ability to borrow money for various projects.  Don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world.  Give the market time to sort itself out.  We tend to overly concerned about the immediate present rather than the future.  So what if one quarter has slow growth, or even negative growth?  There will be hardship for some people, but the market will come back if left unhindered by government intervention.  Also, it will come back quicker if consumer’s had more confidence.  Consumer confidence tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as to the performance of the market, at least in the short run.  So be patient, things will get better. 

A Truly Great Insult

Vox Day, who I’ve linked to in the past, wrote a book responding to the rash of popular atheist diatribes printed recently.

In the The Irrational Atheist, Day employs some truly beautiful insults along with scathing rhetoric and his usual razor-sharp logic, factual analysis, and wit, to disarm, mock, and bludgeon his “Unholy Trinity” of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennett, as well as others.

Read Joe Carter’s 60 second review at the Evangelical Outpost, where he quotes what is quite possibly the best insult I’ve ever heard:

“I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.”

Says So

On MSNBC, billionaire investor Sam Zell says so:

Speaking on “Squawk Box” this morning, Zell attributed much of the current economic troubles to fear-mongering and politicking by Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack [Hussein] Obama.

“Obviously what we have going on is an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Zell, chairman of Equity Investments Group and owner of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other companies. “We have two Democratic candidates who are vying with each other to describe the economic situation worse.”