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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-08-21 04:15
Subject: [links] Link salad for a Thursday
Security: Public
Tags:funny, links, personal, politics, science

Andrew Wheeler responds to the SF Signal Mind Meld, is funny — I love a good smackdown, even when I’m on the wrong end of it. Definitely worth the read.

Do they really think the earth is flat? — An oldie but a goodie, the Flat Earth Society. You know, as long as we’re “teaching the controvery” about ID, let’s teach this controversy, too. Flat Earthism is every bit as intellectually sound as Intellectual Design, and rather more entertaining. With less religious hypocrisy, too, which I consider a bonus. (Thanks to csinman.)

The Interstellar Conundrum ReconsideredCentauri Dreams on the practical engineering issues of first generation starships. Where have you gone, Norma Cevna, our world turns its lonely eyes to you.

Researchers produce blood in lab from stem cells — Too bad about that whole stem cell research ban thing, because, you know, lives could be saved. Your Republican Party, defending the nineteenth century at all costs.


8/21/08
Time in saddle: n/a (60 minute brisk walk)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a
Currently reading: The Avatar by Poul Anderson

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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Gwen
User: the_gwenzilliad
Date: 2008-08-21 11:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you seen this one yet? BBC reports on a 3,000 year old family tree.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-08-21 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
> Too bad about that whole stem cell research ban thing,
> because, you know, lives could be saved.

How daring of the researchers to publicly announce their research, considering that whole stem cell research ban.

Oh, except that there is no stem cell research ban. There's a ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (except on certain embryonic stem cell lines that had already been established.) But I understand there are Republicans to be bashed, and an accurate description of Bush's policy would get in the way of that.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2008-08-21 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's only sort-of true. It is true that the matter is one of funding. However, because of the funding ban, no university in the United States large enough to support labs complex enough to do stem-cell research is actually allowed to do stem-cell research. They all take public funds, and could not operate without them.

The whole story the Republicans sold their mouth-breathing base was that they'd stopped stem-cell research and the concurrent destruction of embryos. But private investment, with said harvesting of embryos, continues in the US, and publicly funded research continues in other countries, none of which is subject to public American scrutiny.

The policy installed by a Republican administration has created a two-tier system where the general public has no view, no say, and no possibility of reaping rewards. Meanwhile, the powerful and the wealthy have access both to investment possibilities and the benefits of the research.

As a metaphor for the "sell the rubes the Biblical story to keep them happy, but we'll continue to be rich and powerful and rape the nation for all its worth" story that both Republicans and Democrats accuse the left of trying to sell about the right, this one couldn't be more rich.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-08-21 16:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
> no university in the United States large enough to support labs
> complex enough to do stem-cell research is actually allowed to do
> stem-cell research.

So, for example, the University of Illinois at Chicago, which according to Wikipedia has "the nation's largest medical school with research expenditures exceeding $290 million," could not engage in such research.

From the article Jay linked to:

> The team, which also included researchers from the University of
> Illinois at Chicago
and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.,
> produced blood of types A-positive, A-negative, B-positive,
> B-negative and O-positive. [Emphasis added.]

Huh. How did that happen? Is it possible that researchers at public universities can do research without federal funds? Amazing!

But maybe it was federally funded (the article doesn't say.) After all, despite your impression that no one is doing federally funded embryonic stem cell research, the federal government is spending $42 million on it this year alone. http://www.nih.gov/news/fundingresearchareas.htm (Scroll down to Stem Cell Research -- Human Embryonic.)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-08-21 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was just being snarky, as usual. The reality is there are "approved" stem cell lines which continue to be available for research (the number 28 sticks in my head, but that might not be right -- it's close). The ban wasn't on research per se, it was on funding for work with stem cell lines other than the approved ones. Which are now about eight years out of date with respect to newer research, cell quality, etc. The net effect has been a significant retardation in stem cell research, while Asian and European researchers have far outstripped US research in this area.

All for the expediency of appeasing a narrow segment of religious voters subscribing to a specific subset.

So, yeah, it's nuanced, but the picture is still pretty damned uncomplimentary to the GOP -- trading away meaningful scientific progress and significant international competitive advantage for sake of electoral pandering. The reality makes a pretty difficult one liner, and my snark nets out within shouting distance of the reality.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2008-08-28 16:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
maybe it was federally funded...

It wasn't. It was firewalled off from federal funding and operated entirely with state funds. I checked, because, you know, we wouldn't want our good men in white lab coats to be violating the law.

Oh, and just to follow up? Between your last post and this one, John McCain quietly signed off on a change to his party's platform that would ban all embryonic stem cell research in the United States, whether publicly or privately funded, even on already-existing stem cell lines. Under a McCain presidency, the research you highlighted would not be available to Americans.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-09-03 19:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just wanted to say that I'm impressed by the difference between this comment and your previous one. By doing accurate research to support your claims, you have left me unable to dispute what you've said.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2008-08-21 16:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
WorldNetDaily on Stem Cell research: Michael J. Fox is a Cannibal. Stay classy, guys.
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