A pig with a human brain

The ethical issues involved in combining human DNA with animal DNA are so great–and so obvious–that the federal government at first refused to fund those kinds of experiments.  But now, reports Timothy Willard,  the National Institute for Health has rescinded the ban.

Willard reports on the kind of experimentation your tax dollars will be going towards:  A researcher from the University of California, Davis, that is planning to inject human embryonic stem cells into a pig embryo.  The fetus will then be implanted into the womb of a pig, who will give birth to the human/pig organism (known as a “chimera” for the mythological monsters who are combinations of various animals).

The researcher says he is doing this for the universal excuse of some day curing disease and making more compatible organs to transplant.  But he openly acknowledges what can go wrong.

Since he can’t really control what those human stem cells might turn into, if two adult chimeras mate, the result might be a a human baby with a pig as his or her parents.  Or we might have a pig with a human brain and human consciousness.

But don’t worry, he says.  If anything goes wrong, he will abort the fetus.  This is apparently what convinced the NIH that the experiments can be ethical.

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Young men living the dream

Research shows that young men 18-30 are more likely to be living with their parents than with a woman.  And that the large number of the unemployed in this demographic are not only living with their parents but spending virtually all of the time they would normally be working playing video games.

But here is the kicker:  They LIKE living this way.  It isn’t that poor economic prospects are causing them to retreat into a depressing isolation.  They consider this a good life.  Expending their sexual impulses in internet pornography, rather than marriage or dating that could lead to marriage, and channeling all of their aggression into first person shooters, instead of the military or ambition or earning a living or protecting a family, this generation is happy, content, and living the dream.

So says Samuel D. James, drawing on the research of Erik Hurst and the insights of Russell Moore, excerpted and linked after the jump.

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Are the Russians manipulating the U.S. election?

Researchers are concluding that it was the Russians–indeed, a Russian intelligence agency–that hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails and gave them to Wikileaks.  Which raises the question:  Is Vladimir Putin working to get Donald Trump elected?

Not only have the two expressed admiration for each other.  A Trump presidency would clearly be in Russia’s self-interest.  Trump threatens to leave NATO and has said that he might not defend NATO members if they are attacked, with specific reference to the Baltic Republics, which Putin has his eye on.

 Is Trump a Manchurian candidate?  Certainly, Democrats are already spinning that narrative.

Is this just a Cold-War style conspiracy theory?  Or could there be something to it?

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The Democrats’ embarrassing e-mail leaks

Someone hacked into some 20,000 e-mails from members of the Democratic National Committee, and they have been posted on Wikileaks. They reveal embarrassing details about how the party officials were trying to rig the primaries for Hillary Clinton.  This included a plan to use Bernie Sander’s religion–he is a Jewish agnostic–against him.  (See the article excerpted and linked after the jump.)

The Wikileaks searchable DNC site is here.

Here is a list of some of the more embarrassing e-mails.

Wikileak’s Julian Assange, who also posted Clinton’s State Department e-mails, is promising more damaging leaks, part of a “Hillary Clinton project.”

UPDATE:  DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was supposed to have a big role at the convention, has resigned over the revelations.  The Democratic leadership is said to be in “disarray” over the e-mail leaks.

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What Mary Magdalene looked like?

Saint Mary Magdalene - Digital facial reconstruction

 

Brazilian scientists have been using digital technology on the skulls of saints, so as to reconstruct their faces.  They used their technique on a relatively well-attested relic of Mary Magdalene.  This is what she may have looked like.

Details of the reconstructions after the jump.  Go here for the Mary Magdalene project.

 

 

 

Image by Cicero Moraes (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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The end of the written word?

Facebook is predicting the end of the written word–at least on Facebook, which the head of the company in Europe says may well be all video in 5 years.  Suggesting that reading and writing will be all but obsolete (though not completely), Nicol Mendelsohn said, “The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” which “conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”

This is not true, as media expert Neil Postman has shown.  It certainly isn’t “quicker” to watch a video, as opposed to scanning a few paragraphs.  And the information value of videos is quite low, if you are looking for ideas and facts, as opposed to emotional experiences.  And “stories” can be told with much more depth in writing, as nearly any comparison with a movie and the novel it was based on will prove.

And yet, I can see Facebook and other online media replacing the written words with visual images and oral performances. This would be in line with the predictions of another media scholar, Marshall McLuhan, who said that when this happens, we will revert back to a pre-literate culture, one that is tribal, anti-rational, and functionally primitive. [Read more…]


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