Friday, February 1, 2013

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 14

Scandalously close view of a Tomato Leaf
In this episode we note that Darwin Was Not Infallible, a la "the king can do no wrong" and "the Pope is infallible."

Following up on the previous post in this series, which concerned new scientific thinking about viruses, we look into an emerging hypothesis that may be going in a direction to try to rescue what may now properly be called Darwin's hypothesis.

In his book The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin was honest enough to write that his hypothesis had a problem, which was The Cambrian Explosion:
The Cambrian explosion has generated extensive scientific debate. The seemingly rapid appearance of fossils in the “Primordial Strata” was noted as early as the 1840s, and in 1859 Charles Darwin discussed it as one of the main objections that could be made against his theory of evolution by natural selection.
(Wikipedia, emphasis added; cf. this). As if that was not enough, we now know that there was another, earlier rapid appearance episode prior to the one that troubled Darwin, yes, an earlier event that he was not aware of.

This earlier rapid appearance episode is in addition to two additional associated events, the Great Oxygen Events (GOE), which totals two rapid expansion events and two GOE events:
There is evidence that oxygen levels also rose 1.3 billion years ago and again before the Cambrian Explosion, a rapid proliferation of animal life that began 540 million years ago. Some researchers believe increasing levels of atmospheric oxygen helped trigger the Cambrian Explosion.

Catling says the reason for those rises in atmospheric oxygen “is even more of a mystery than the first one.”

“There were huge ice ages just before the Cambrian Explosion, but also associated with the Great Oxidation Event,” Holland says. “It is important to have a much better understanding of those events and the history of life.”

Kasting, Catling, Des Marais, Hoehler and Holland are members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute so those issues have special relevance for them.
(The Rise of Oxygen, Astrobiology Magazine). The ongoing controversy, not unsurprisingly, has caused infantile feuds which have even ended up in court trials:
The Plausibility of Life ends with a brief critique of intelligent design, suggesting that the concept of facilitated variation will provide a solid argument to rebut creationists. I applaud the authors' intention, as it seems to me that more scientists ought to face the realities of public misunderstanding of science. But their presentation is too brief, and a bit too simplistic. The "controversy" about evolution has nothing to do with the soundness of scientific explanations of the history of life: It's not a scientific controversy, but a social, cultural and political one. Creationism is the result of centuries of anti-intellectualism in the United States, coupled with sometimes cynical exploitation of the issue for political gain. In addition, many scientists have no interest in getting out of the ivory tower to talk to the very same public that pays their salaries and funds their precious research grants. The recent defeat of intelligent design at the trial in Dover, Pennsylvania — at the hand of a conservative judge appointed by George W. Bush — will do much more to promote sanity in public education than any theory about facilitated variation, as scientifically sound as the latter may be.
(Have We Solved Darwin's Dilemma?, emphasis added). Really, where are we when religionists and scientists duke it out in court as a solution to what they both call a cognitive mystery?

The federal case mentioned in the "Have We Solved Darwin's Dilemma?" quote above only determined whether the teaching of "Intelligent Design"  in public schools violated the First Amendment; not in any way did that case even attempt to decide which religious teaching, scientific theory, or hypothesis was the correct one.

Anyway, back to the peaceful discussion of this issue, which is the hypothesis that prions, phages, and viruses evolved prior to cells, thus they could have provided an underlying framework for the transfer of oxygen to the atmosphere:
Several genes coding for key proteins involved in viral replication and morphogenesis as well as the major capsid protein of icosahedral virions are shared by many groups of RNA and DNA viruses but are missing in cellular life forms.

On the basis of this key observation and the data on extensive genetic exchange between diverse viruses, we propose the concept of the ancient virus world. The virus world is construed as a distinct contingent of viral genes that continuously retained its identity throughout the entire history of life. Under this concept, the principal lineages of viruses and related selfish agents emerged from the primordial pool of primitive genetic elements, the ancestors of both cellular and viral genes.

Thus, notwithstanding the numerous gene exchanges and acquisitions attributed to later stages of evolution, most, if not all, modern viruses and other selfish agents are inferred to descend from elements that belonged to the primordial genetic pool.

In this pool, RNA viruses would evolve first, followed by retroid elements, and DNA viruses. The Virus World concept is predicated on a model of early evolution whereby emergence of substantial genetic diversity antedates the advent of full-fledged cells, allowing for extensive gene mixing at this early stage of evolution.

We outline a scenario of the origin of the main classes of viruses in conjunction with a specific model of precellular evolution under which the primordial gene pool dwelled in a network of inorganic compartments. Somewhat paradoxically, under this scenario, we surmise that selfish genetic elements ancestral to viruses evolved prior to typical cells, to become intracellular parasites once bacteria and archaea arrived at the scene.

Selection against excessively aggressive parasites that would kill off the host ensembles of genetic elements would lead to early evolution of temperate virus-like agents and primitive defense mechanisms, possibly, based on the RNA interference principle.

The emergence of the eukaryotic cell is construed as the second melting pot of virus evolution from which the major groups of eukaryotic viruses originated as a result of extensive recombination of genes from various bacteriophages, archaeal viruses, plasmids, and the evolving eukaryotic genomes.

Again, this vision is predicated on a specific model of the emergence of eukaryotic cell under which archaeo-bacterial symbiosis was the starting point of eukaryogenesis, a scenario that appears to be best compatible with the data.
(The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells, 2006, emphasis added). The current theory in vogue in evolutionary biology holds that cells evolved prior to viruses, and thus the controversy.

It takes a lot of work to show that Darwin was infallible, and that work has not been done yet, but the rebels press on in their effort to do so.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post is here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Virgin MOMCOM - 6

This is the sixth post in a subject matter series concerning what is both a deep as well as a wide subject of considerable general historical mystery, which we call MOMCOM.

The last episode concerned a timely review of one aspect of MOMCOM, detailed in the book "Dismantling The Empire."

Today's post will do the same using a timely review of the book "The Spiritual-Industrial Complex" for reference purposes, however, I do suggest that you read the two complimentary Dredd Blog series: "Bully Worship: The Universal Religion" as well as "On The Origin of The Bully Religion."

The reason for considering all of them is that this subject necessitates the development of a broad based understanding of U.S. History, to countermand years of broad based propaganda.

It takes some time to help get one's mind around the notion of what Dredd Blog calls The Virgin MOMCOM:
The sanctuary of the holy war.

The sanctuary of the jihad.

The sanctuary of sacrosanct military spending.

The sanctuary of the neo - American Religion.

Holy imperialism fat man.

A recent Dredd Blog post alluded to this new, gripping religion:
... there’s one huge area of government spending that Democrats and Republicans alike have so far treated as sacrosanct.

It’s the military / security world ...
(Is The Empress Taking Off Her Clothes?, quoting NY Times). The concept of the holy war is bound to the notion of the virgin birth, re-birth, and the ultimate self-righteousness, a.k.a. "exceptionalism", handed down from antiquity ...
(The Virgin MOMCOM). The book review I am using for reference, today, comes from a reputable source that may shake the world view of some readers:
Today’s religious Right equates secularism with totalitarianism, and it opposes these twinned forces internationally and within the culture of the United States. Jonathan P. Herzog’s well-researched study demonstrates that the Right’s theological partisans are marshaling a system of beliefs initially forged by a coalition of conservatives, liberals, and moderates in the early Cold War. With assistance from clergy and interfaith groups, leaders in a variety of secular institutions promoted the idea that America was a covenant nation engaged in a holy war with a communist enemy whose belief system was a rival faith to Judeo-Christian democracy.
(The Spiritual-Industrial Complex, emphasis added). That Journal of American History book review may sound over the top -- at first.

So, just to settle your nerves a bit, let me mention the credentials of the author of the book The Spiritual-Industrial Complex:
Jonathan P. Herzog is a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. Prior to joining the State Department, he held positions at Stanford University, the Hoover Institution, and the University of Oregon. He holds a Ph.D. in American history from Stanford.
(Oxford University Press). Regular readers will know that the soul-shocking theme expressed in Dr. Herzog's book is quite a common thread throughout the Dredd Blog posts mentioned at the beginning of today's post.

That is because it is a common thread presented by the writers of American History, both in books and in scholarly papers discussed on Dredd Blog.

The recent "War on Terror" is nothing more than a continuation of this persistent infection that has been the death of nations.

The sheer madness of it is shown by a "spiritual communication" from a recent U.S. High Priest In Chief, a.k.a. president:
The President of France, Chirac, received a mixed missive from the President of the United States, Bush II.

It was so mixed that it confused Chirac.

Bush II told Chirac, in an official government communiqué, that the war against Iraq was god-ordained and prophesied in the Bible.

To support his dogmatic statement, Bush II pointed out these verses:
7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
(ICH...) ...
(The Dogma of The High Priest In Chief). The RNA or DNA pattern of the very old social virus we are discussing today was also noticed during one of the recent world wars:
The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.
(Myth Addiction Is Establishment's LSD, quoting 1944 book). This social virus masking as another religion which is rife throughout The War College system has been identified by Dredd Blog as Mithraism, a war worshipping religion:
But so that we don't put the nuts and bolts of today's post off any longer, the contrast in the two Huffington Post pieces mentioned above can be drawn into full contrast with the following information that compares historical Mithraism with historical Christianity:
1) Mithras was “the Light of the World“ (Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12).

2) Mithras was a member of a Holy Trinity (“Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ … ‘The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.’ St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47″; see also Mt 28:19).

3) Mithras was born of a virgin (Jesus was born of a virgin. see Matthew 1:18-25).

4) Worshippers of Mithras held strong beliefs in a celestial heaven and an infernal hell (“The Bible speaks clearly of the existence of Heaven … Hell is also spoken of in the Bible, but its nature is even more sketchy. When Jesus described the destiny of sinners who refused to change their ways, he compared it to Gehenna, which was a rubbish dump outside Jerusalem. People in wretched poverty picked their way through it to find scraps, and fires burned”).

5) Worshippers of Mithras believed they would be given endless life (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” I Cor 15:53).

6) Worshippers of Mithras believed in a final day of judgement in which the dead would resurrect (“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” I Cor 15:12).

7) Worshippers of Mithras believed in a final conflict that would destroy the existing order of all things (“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” Rev 19:19; “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” Rev 16:16).

8) Mithras worshippers believed that a ritualistic baptism was required of the faithful (“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …’” Matthew 28:18-20).

9) Mithras worshippers took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of Mithras (“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” Matthew 26:26; “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” Matthew 26:26-28).

10) Mithras worshippers believed that Sundays were held sacred (“the majority observance of Christian Sabbath is as Sunday rest” - Wikipedia).

11) The birth of Mithras was celebrated annually on December the 25th (“Christmas … is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world” - Wikipedia).

12) Mithras took part in a Last Supper with his companions before ascending to heaven (“The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.” Wikipedia; “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11)
(see Mithraism - Univ. of Chicago and Mithraic Mysteries - Wikipedia). The first reaction a lot of people have is "well, what is the difference then?"
(On The Origin of The Bully Religion, emphasis in original). The unthinkable carnage which that social virus posing as another religion has led to, at the hands of the servants of the "god of war," has also been detailed in all its gory shame in another recent Dredd Blog book review type post:
The title is taken from an order given to the U.S. forces who slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese civilians in the notorious My Lai massacre of 1968. Drawing on interviews in Vietnam and a trove of previously unknown U.S. government documents — including internal military investigations of alleged war crimes in Vietnam — Turse argues that U.S. atrocities in Vietnam were not just isolated incidents, but "the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military."
Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by "a few bad apples." But as award‑winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to "kill anything that moves."

Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable.
(On The Origin of The Bully Religion - 2, reviewing "Kill Anything That Moves"). There is very little wonder that Mithraism was for the longest time the religion of the Roman Empire's military, and the religion of its Caesars:
Mithraism became a military religion under the Romans. The many dangers to which the Roman soldiers were exposed caused them to seek the protection of the gods of their foreign comrades in order to obtain success in battle or a happier life through death. The soldiers adopted the Mithraic faith for its emphasis on victory, strength, and security in the next world. Temples and shrines were dedicated to Mithras across the empire. In 67 B.C., the first congregation of Mithras-worshipping soldiers existed in Rome under the command of General Pompey.
(see Mithras in the Roman Empire, emphasis added). Nor is there any doubt that it is a religion that thinks nothing of slaughter:
“Polybius claimed that the Romans deliberately caused as much destruction as possible, slaughtering and dismembering animals as well as people, to deter other communities from resisting Roman demands to surrender; mercy. Male inhabitants were usually slaughtered, women raped, though only in exceptional circumstances killed in the initial orgy of destruction. After that, as tempers cooled and the desire for profit took over, prisoners would be taken for sale as slaves, though at times any considered to have a low market value, such as the very old, were still massacred.”
(On The Origin of the Bully Religion, quoting Complete Roman Army). However, there is room for a lot of wonder and mystery about how that sicko religious social virus infected the entire U.S. military, but not much was said or done about it.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On The Origin of Specious

Agent Orange
Bill Maher talked about war spending on his "New Rules" piece last week (video below).

That was timely.

The only government spending that has doubled since about the year 2000 is military war spending.

Arguments by right-wing neoCon creatures that leave out the greatest increase in spending are  talked about in today's hypothesis: The Origin of Specious.

These psychopaths are operatives of Oil-Qaeda who sell us oil addiction.

Then they take the government hostage, take our paychecks hostage, try to take our insurance hostage (Social Security Insurance, Health Care Insurance, flood insurance, etc.), take the economy hostage, all the while delusionally telling us that they are the adults in the room.

They are the ah ... dolts in the room.

Maher indicated that we spend more on military war machinations than the next 13 countries, however, Dredd Blog has quoted information in the past which indicates that the bottom line figure adds up to more than all the other nations combined:
What kind of culture would you expect within a nation that spends more on weapons and war than all the rest of the other nations of the world combined?

That is, add up how much nations spend on weapons and war to derive a total.

Leaving out of course, while adding up the totals, the one nation you think spends the most, then combine the individual national amounts of each nation to see which of all the nations of civilization add up to being "worthy" of having the capitol (a.k.a. "The Temple of The Lard") of the world's Bully Religion:
“The United States spends more on defense [a.k.a. warmongering] than all the other nations of the world combined. Between 1998 and 2011, military spending doubled, reaching more than seven hundred billion dollars a year — more, in adjusted dollars, than at any time since the Allies were fighting the Axis.”
(New Yorker, January 2013). Add to that a U.S. rape epidemic, a United Nations investigation into treaty-violating U.S. drone invasions, a suicide epidemic, and you might just wonder what is going on within such a society that produces ass-holes, psychopaths, and official insanity.
(On The Origin of The Bully Religion). Harry Reid is doing an insurrection over in the Senate, as Dylan says in his song The Hurricane, "like the time before and the time before that", according to a recent news conference:
The top Democrat in the Senate said Tuesday that lawmakers should redouble their efforts to replace looming across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs with alternative spending cuts and tax hikes.

The comments by Majority Leader Harry Reid came amid increasing resignation among both Democrats and Republicans that the across-the-board cuts will soon take effect. The cuts were an element of the so-called fiscal cliff that was partially averted this month with the extension of Bush-era tax cuts.
(On The Origin of Sequester). The suspicions of many about the root of all spin has been addressed in:  On The Origin of Propaganda.

That leaves us with "the last original link" for this post: On The Origin of Assholes.

New Rule: America Needs to Show It's the Home of the Brave by Acting Like It

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"I Was Following Orders" - 2

"I was following orders"
On this date in 2009 I reported on Senate hearings concerning the appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder.

That post is republished today.

It think it is timely because it deals with the concept of The Nuremberg Defense, which is, "I Was Following Orders".

That defense is illegal as far as current international law is concerned, but all of our legislators and other officials do not seem to know that.

Here is the text from that post:

During the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which resulted in the committee voting approval (17-2) of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General, several of the republican senators kept adhering to an old idea.

They kept asking Holder if he was going to prosecute individuals who tortured prisoners at Gitmo.

Individuals who were "only following orders" to torture.

The implication those republican senators not only alluded to, but specifically stated, was that if a lower level individual was "only" following orders, then that lower level individual is not guilty and should not be held to account for the torture he or she did.

Two things come to mind.

First, that is the defence the NAZI fascists presented who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. It is called the Nuremberg defense, and is invalid pursuant to international law, which states:
"The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."
(Nuremberg Principle IV). Why do the republican senators want us to follow the misguided wrongs of the NAZI ideology promulgated under Hitler?

Second, even the American military manuals, where the rules of conduct are printed, say that a soldier should not follow criminal orders.

These republican senators believe that the NAZI fascist defence is a good one for America.

Are they advocating NAZI fascist dogma? Isn't it the ideas an individual espouses which define who and what they are?

Who but a NAZI fascist would want America to become like NAZI Germany?

Modern day Germans recoil at that notion much more severely than republican senators do. It is a crime in that nation.

And it is a crime in the Fifth Circuit where a Texas sheriff, and several of his deputies, were sent to prison for waterboarding prisoners. The case is US v Lee, 744 F.2d 1124 (5th Cir., 1984). In that case a deputy raised the Nuremberg defence and it was rejected.

If only those republican senators had done their history homework.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On The Origin of The Bully Religion - 3

What kind of culture would you expect within a nation that spends more on weapons and war than all the rest of the other nations of the world combined?

That is, add up how much nations spend on weapons and war to derive a total.

Leaving out of course, while adding up the totals, the one nation you think spends the most, then combine the individual national amounts of each nation to see which of all the nations of civilization add up to being "worthy" of having the capitol (a.k.a. "The Temple of The Lard") of the world's Bully Religion:
“The United States spends more on defense [a.k.a. warmongering] than all the other nations of the world combined. Between 1998 and 2011, military spending doubled, reaching more than seven hundred billion dollars a year — more, in adjusted dollars, than at any time since the Allies were fighting the Axis.”
(New Yorker, January 2013). Add to that a U.S. rape epidemic, a United Nations investigation into treaty-violating U.S. drone invasions, a suicide epidemic, and you might just wonder what is going on within such a society that produces ass-holes, psychopaths, and official insanity.

Can we blame it on lead paint? ... or ... how about blaming it on our genes:
... "the genetic argument allows us the luxury of ignoring past and present historical and social factors. In the words of Louis Menand who wrote in the New Yorker very astutely:
“It’s all in the genes”: an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth? It can’t be the system! There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere.”
... which is a good way to put it. So the genetic argument is simply a cop-out that allows us to ignore the social and economic and political factors that in fact underlie many troublesome behaviors" ...
(The "It's In Your Genes" Myth, quoting Dr. Maté). Research in the discipline of epigenetics shows that behavior can be passed down through generations in ways other than evolutionary genetic alteration.

I subscribe to the Cultural Amygdala hypothesis, which basically says we are culturally stuck with the bed the powers that be have made for us, which is the one we ought not choose to sleep in.

The previous post in this series is here.