brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


NPR : Fun with DNA

Smiley Faces constructed out of DNAThis is just too cool! Need to make a few million nanoscale smiley faces?

Rothemund has developed a computer program that can analyze a shape, figure out the right folding pattern, and then tell you what DNA staples you need to make that shape."It's really easy and fun, actually, to make whatever you want at the nano-scale. You design it in the computer, you order the DNA sequences, they come in the mail, you add a little bit of salt water, you heat it up and cool it down, and then an hour and a half later, it's ready to look at under the microscope."

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Filed under: Science 1 Comment

Payment and Apology

A couple of days ago I pointed out the hypocrisy of Isaac Hayes in accepting payment for episodes of Southpark that ridiculed religion but adopting a different standard when it applied to him. Christian Pundits agreed with me. The problem is, I don't agree with much that Christian Pundits have to say about anything. For instance, they promote all sorts of discrimination against gay people, including opposing any kind of extension of legal rights to same sex couples, like being able extend powers of attorney, medical decision making, and the ability to draw up will and dispense of your property. Or opposes a movie simply because one of the actors is "a self-professed homosexual". Just in case someone thought that I might agree with such attitudes, I do not, and find such ideas "worthy of ridicule", as I do the notion that Christians are some kind of victimized minority in the United States, as implied by Christian Pundit's charter.

Still, today they got upset with me because I called them hypocrites. Were they right? Did I make a mistake? Go ahead and check it out. The author claims that she referred me to this post, (I don't know how she could have done that, since she didn't actually link that article in the article to which I was responding, but...) (ah, in my comments, didn't catch that) which points out that she indeed did think that it was disrespectful to publish such cartoons, but "as a staunch supporter of free speech I have to say that the newspaper had every right to publish the cartoons". Well, that's nice: I'm a supporter of free speech as well, and don't think that Muslims have any right that protects them from offense anymore than anyone else does. Perhaps I do owe Christian Pundits an apology after all...

But let's shift back over to the article which spawned this debate. Did Christian Pundits say "we support freedom of speech, and while whe disagree with the depiction of Christianity in this cartoon and find it offensive, we continue to support free speech"? No. Instead, Christian Pundits lauded the fire that the University newspaper came under, and the ultimate resignation of their editor, calling it "much too late". Does anyone else think that this is a reaction which differs in quality from tacit acceptance of cartoons which depict Islam negatively?

Christian Pundits also complained that the story of this offensive cartoon "got NO attention from American main-stream media". Perhaps that's because it was published in a school newspaper in Saskatoon for pity's sake. Do you really have to go that far out of your way to find something to offend you, something that some pimply faced editor did for a school newspaper that has a circulation of 10,000 in another country? If this is the greatest injustice you can find against Christianity, perhaps you really don't have much to complain about.

Perhaps I have gotten the wrong impression about Christian Pundits on this issue, but I think it's understandable, and in all fairness, they probably think its fair too, otherwise they wouldn't have felt the need to clarify their position again. To make sure that I have been clear, here's my position:

People will say whatever they want to, and people should be allowed to say what ever they want to. That's freedom of speech, and it's important. Nothing anyone says should be cause for violence against them. Sticks and stones may break bones (and call for physical conflict as a result), but names will never hurt you. If someone offends you, take responsibility and don't talk to them anymore. Talk positively about what you believe.

Christian Pundits concludes their article with this:

I don't expect an apology from brainwagon, nor am I asking for one. What will be interesting to see is if he admits his 'mistake' to his readers.

Well, I don't feel I've made a mistake, nor will I feel I have to "repay" the link with an apology. I do feel there are two distinct levelsof outrage displayed in your postings, an inconsistency in how you reacted to these two situations. I'll let my readers (I think there is still more than one) decide for themselves whether I have over reacted or not, and they can choose to read me or, as I mentioned above, take their valuable time elsewhere. I'm quite happy holding opinions that are truly in the minority, and nobody has to stay and listen to me out of politeness.

Lastly, I will apologize to all my readers who read this blog (as I suspect most do) simply to find out about geeky computer stuff, baseball and the like. I usually limit my comments on politics and religion: that isn't what this blog is about, because quite frankly that's not what I find fun to blog about. My rants are usually a bit more esoteric (and therefore less inflammatory), and I'm not going to make a habit out of this momentary weakness.

If you've made it this far, you deserve a break, check out this highly inoffensive website.

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