Tag Archives: Technology

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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Today’s Interesting Stuff

Speecy Spiicy, Hotsy Totsy

American parents tend to feed their children bland foods to avoid potential allergies or just because that’s what Dr Spock or the latest parenting magazine told them. Easy on the stomach, and the poop ain’t so bad.

Parents in other countries tend to feed their infants whatever they are having, and their children experience the full gamut of cultural flavors from very early ages.

And yes, I’m advocating for American parents to be more like foreign parents. Look out the windows, there be pigs in the air!

First, bland doesn’t necessary mean easier for the stomach. Take ginger, for instance. A very sharp and strong flavor, nobody would call it bland. But is the natural and effective remedy for upset stomachs? Ginger. No citations here, just try this: Purchase a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew. If you can handle the Extra Strength, get that. Then fast, and when your stomach is most uncomfortable, usually just after the normal time for the next meal, drink the Reed’s. Instant stomach relief.

Second, you’re limiting your child’s future ability to eat and enjoy wide varieties of food, including many foods you and I take for granted.

This article chronicles the embarrassment, the worries, the challenges of being an adult picky eater. One telling comment?

Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

Not that exposing your children, when young, to significant varieties of food will totally preclude such problems, but they would take a significant bite out of them.

The Office

Empty office space keeps rising. This is not a good sign for the economy that is on the mend, according to certain people whose grand plans are fully in swing here. Corporations are using less and less office space, which means they aren’t hiring.

The really scary part?

Job growth and office-space use are closely intertwined. While some major users of offices, such as federal regulatory agencies, have been expanding, big banks and corporations have lagged behind in increasing their real-estate footprint, according to some analysts. That is a sign that these larger companies have been slow to return to their pre-recession staffing levels, a contributing factor to the persistently high U.S. unemployment rate.

Yea, that’s a sure sign of a growing and recovering economy. Regulators are gearing up for more business. Only one problem, regulators business is to keep real businesses out of business.

My Buddy Hugo

The ones really benefiting from the drilling moratorium? National oil companies. That means President Obama’s marxist buddy Hugo Chavez is loving us right now. Was this a quid pro quo? Or was it yet another unintended consequence of a short sighted and dishonestly supported policy? I’d say the latter, but wouldn’t be too surprised at the former.

Oh, and this would be the same Venezuela that just stole oil rigs from US corporations and we heard nary a peep in protest for this thuggish thievery from the government that is supposed to be supporting US interests abroad.

Muhammed In Space

Perhaps a new round of “Let’s Draw Muhammed” is in order. It would probably improve our chances of NASA actually being less irrelevant than it already is going forward.

NASA has apparently been ordered to reach out to Muslim nations in an effort to improve goodwill. And NASA is the right agency for this why?

Former NASA director Michael Griffin says sympathetic nations will be drawn to us when NASA succeeds at great things, not when they’re given an inflatable space shuttle and commemorative plaque.

Griffin said Tuesday that collaboration with other countries, including Muslim nations, is welcome and should be encouraged — but that it would be a mistake to prioritize that over NASA’s “fundamental mission” of space exploration.

“If by doing great things, people are inspired, well then that’s wonderful,” Griffin said. “If you get it in the wrong order … it becomes an empty shell.”

Griffin added: “That is exactly what is in danger of happening.”

And the coup de’ etat?

He also said that while welcome, Muslim-nation cooperation is not vital for U.S. advancements in space exploration.

“There is no technology they have that we need,” Griffin said.

Once again, why is it NASA’s job to reach out to any nation?

I’d draw Muhammed in space alongside the Muppets.

Just A Reminder

Some people still claim that Liberals are the bigger and better givers, both of time and money. They’re wrong. Badly wrong.

People who said they were “very conservative” gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; “conservatives” gave 3.6%; “moderates” gave 3%; “liberals” gave 1.5%; and “very liberal” folks gave 1.2%.

And this cannot be explained by religious versus secular giving:

The 2008 data tell us that secular conservatives are now outperforming their secular liberal counterparts. Compare two people who attend religious services less than once per year (or never) and who are also identical in terms of income, education, sex, age and family status — but one is on the political right while the other is on the left. The secular liberal will give, on average, $1,100 less to charity per year than the secular conservative. The conservative charity edge cannot be explained away by gifts to churches.

Or by giving of time versus giving of money:

Q. Monetary giving doesn’t tell us much about total charity, does it? People who don’t give money probably tend to give in other ways instead, right?
A. Wrong. First of all, there is a bright line between people who give and people who don’t give. People who do give time and money tend to give a lot of it. According to the Center on Philanthropy, the percentage of givers donating less than $50 to charity in 2000 was the same as the percentage giving more than $5,000. Similarly, the same percentage of people who only volunteered once volunteered on 36 or more occasions in 2000.

Second, people who give away their time and money to established charities are far more likely than non-givers to act generously in informal ways as well. For example, one nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

And it is not offset by political giving either:

Perhaps you suspect that the vast political contributions given to the Obama campaign — $742 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, versus $367 million for the McCain campaign — were crowding out charitable giving by the left. But political donations, impressive as they were this year by historical standards, were still miniscule compared to the approximately $300 billion Americans gave charitably in 2008. Adding political and charitable gifts together would not change the overall giving patterns.

Conservatives continue giving more in economically difficult times, decreasing their giving by less than their liberal counterparts:

Economists measure the “income elasticity of giving” to predict how much people change their giving in response to a particular percentage change in their income. It turns out the response in 2008 was dramatically different for left and right. For instance, a 10% decrease in family income for a conservative was associated with a 10% decrease in giving. The same income decrease for a liberal family led to a 16% giving drop. In other words, if this relationship continues to hold, the recession will almost certainly exacerbate the giving differences between left and right.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Modern liberal ideas are selfish ideas.

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Resurrecting Fido: Refusal To Grow

The story about the retirees refusing to allow their pup Lancelot to shuffle off this mortal coil when his natural life ended by ordering Lancelot Encore (cute puppy pictures), the first one-off, made to order, cloned animal, is interesting to me more for what it says about the older couple, Ed and Nina, than what it says about technology.

Cloning is old hat. It’s been going on for some time successfully now. The news nature of this comes from the fact a person was able to pay lots of money and get a “copy” of their preferred pooch. It’s an “Imagine that” kind of thing, nothing more, from the technology side.

But the couple intrigue me.

Have you ever experienced an idyllic situation? The light is just right, the leaves in the trees, the grass under your feet, the water of the river and the touch of sand in the barbeque. We want them to continue forever. We desire to hold onto these minutes and relish the moments as they fly inexorably onward, until we’re packing the car again and driving home and back to work grind on Monday.

There is an undeniable desire to freeze frame life and contain the moments that we find are perfect. But life keeps moving and so must we.

Miss Havisham perpetually in her moth eaten wedding dress with the rotten cake would have cloned her beloved had she the change.

And so the Otto family have become the Miss Havisham of our age. Technology can fix everything, including bringing the dead back to life.

When we insist on living “as things were” we deprive ourselves of our future. When we insist on constraining our lives to some eternal “present perfect” we forego any growth, sorrow, or joy or the other parts of life which are necessary for normal human function.

Humans may wish for an eternal ideal, for that perfect time. However, we need the eternal change and constant motion through which this world functions. To hold onto things which must change, forcing them through our own force of will to remain unchanged, is to deny our own humanity and to fade from the real life which would beckon us onward.

Death is as much a part of life as life itself. Not in an Eastern Yin/Yang way, but in a Western form of closure. We begin, we pass, and we end. Everything in our life follows the same path on different time tables.

And so the Otto family have relegated themselves to the eternal past. They may continue to grow old and pass through this world, but they have achieved no nirvana or eternal blissful stasis.

Lancelot Encore will die too. None are god enough to prevent that. And Ed and Nina will together sit in their moth-eaten wedding dress beside their rotten wedding cake, watching out the window with hope that Lancelot will once again run through their lives.

It’s not happiness, it’s Havisham.

Technically It’s Stupid

Technology news seems to be a bit interesting today.

If technology is the latest and greatest proof of the evolution of man, it only serves to prove that nothing really is new under the sun.

Man acts in an irrational and selfish manner against the fact and tide of all that is known and proven.

First up, texting.

Think it’s cheap? You have no idea HOW cheap. And how much the standard carriers want you to keep thinking it’s only so cheap.

The New York Times published a story showing just how cheap those text messages really are for the big 4 versus just how much they convince you is cheap.

I’m not for legislating our way out of this, government will only jump in and muck up the system. But I’m very much in favor of putting pressure on the companies to get them to charge more competitive rates for texting.

This article is also scary in that it is yet another “real problem, fake solution” kind of piece which is born from and feeds the very Big Brother mentality of government. So long as government is called in to fix every problem, the solutions will be market takeovers and the socialization of companies.

Remember the Amazon1-clickpatent? Apparently the patent office didn’t learn its lesson and has continued allowing senseless and pointless ‘process’ patents which seek to limit legitimate and normal ways of accomplishing things rather than protecting truly original design and innovation.

Apple has patented its ‘swipe’ gestures used on it’s touch screen systems such as the iPhone. HP has integrated similar gestures on its touchscreen laptops and computers for nearly a year now and will likely face significant penalties and/or litigation from Apple to discontinue its use on their home media center systems.

And a small company nobody has heard of before today decided to use a patent they received regarding file previews to sue Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Sounds like their CEO idolizes SCO.

File previews are used by most mainstream internet browsers, Windows OS, Apple OS, Linux, Google Documents, and a host of modern user interfaces.

The previews usually display a small part of the contents of the file or files selected in order to aid selecting the correct file.

Their use is no great innovation and are accomplished so many ways there is no way to justly and honestly state that one person can patent and control the entire process.

And so mankind marches on blissfully secure in his own evolutionary progress and yet proving, over and over, he is no better nor worse than he ever has been. All other claims are fantasy and falacy, together.

Where Is HAL?

It’s been 43 years since artificial-intelligence innovator Herbert Simon claimed that in 20 years machines would be capable of doing any work that a man can do.

Hollywood thought it would be done by the year 2001.

Mankind is a curious being, full of inconsistancies and unacknowledged frailties.

On one hand we are so very full of our own ability, claiming that we can create intelligence equal to our own. On the other, we have such a dim view of ourselves, claiming an intelligence equal to ours can be created, by us.

Defining artificial intelligence as non-organic, human-created machines capable of independent thought, cognition, and self-awareness, we find ourselves woefully short of our stated goals and claimed abilities.

Network World magazine, June 23rd 2008 edition, says that while the whole dream as one realized entity, a truly intelligent robot, is still far off, many of the individual parts and technologies are already developed. But with a very telling by-line perhaps you’ll see the issue:

The grand promise of intelligent machines underestimated the complexity of reproducing human cognition.

The irony is heavy surrounding this.

The last two centuries have been a progression of the understanding of human cognition. From the age of reason through the psychoanalysis of Frued and Williams, we have broken down our own minds and thought processes until we believe them to be simply incredibly deep chains of logic switches. We put lots of logic switches on silicon wafers and fed electrical pulses through pathways signifying instructions and found our creations could process commands: input and output.

We made them faster and faster until we thought that with the proper instructions these processing cores could, with the proper instruction sets, become artificially intelligent.

We assumed that human kind is simply a more evolved animal with deeper instruction sets, more complex preprogrammed responses. But with each new iteration of technological improvement, we are becoming more aware than ever of the gulf seperating us from our machines.

I will go out on a limb here and state that even if we had forever, humans will never build a machine that is artificially intelligent.

We will make things seem to be intelligent, but they will all boil down to increasingly complex instruction sets compiled by humans and limited by the very myopic view of our existence which leads us to believe we can actually create intelligence, and will fail in our ultimate goal.

The reason is that we are not solely the result of random processes creating complex logical structures around an organic adapted structure. But we are beings which exist here and hereafter with logic, yes, but also with will and emotions and moral reckoning.

There will always be a gulf between us and our creations: we cannot breathe life into anything.