Monday, April 29, 2013

April Iris in Decatur, GA

Cultivating my phenological inclination here in Decatur, GA as I walk Benny Lava.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be.

Glowing Plant Update

Last week I told you about a new Kickstarter Project that promises seeds for a glowing plant in the mail. As a PostDoc in an Arabidopsis lab, of course I funded it. So watch out, I will be blogging the process of growing these glowing seedlings as soon as the embryos arrive (sometime in 2014).

I was not the only one to show this project love. In three days the project creators reached their goal of $65,000. Now they have 39 days left to let the money keep on rolling in. This Kickstarter is so noteworthy because it appears to be the first serious Synthetic Biology project made possible by crowd-funding. Check out the video to get up to date on the status of the project.

Microbiome: Incredibly Beautiful Data

Exploring Citizen Science and Participatory Research from The Personal Genome Project on

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Personal Genome Project: Joining the "Lunatic Fringe"

We came to donate our living genomes to science.  On April 25th, 2013 (DNA Day as it were) we submitted blood and spit to the Personal Genome Project (PGP). The PGP is the brainchild of George Church (pictured above). A professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School George is also a loveable bearded teddy bear.  The goal of this project is to sequence 100,000 whole human genomes.  I think they have successfully completed somewhere in the ~2,500 range.  There is also an underlying cultural movement among the "lunatic fringe" early-adopters like us. This is a movement towards open access. Our bodies are our data and we would like the keys to the car please. How appropriate then that I came to find out about the PGP via a facebook comment made to me by none other than Open Access gangsta Jonathan Eisen.

As I'm sitting in a hostel room and the sun is shining I want to go out and make the most of this rare occasion to enjoy Boston, visit firefly bicycles, ride along the Charles River, loose ourselves in the bowels of the Harvard Bookstore.  That being said, forgive the brevity of the post. I will be back with plenty more pictures I snapped at the GET conference this past Thursday and Friday and more personal genomics stories.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kickstart a Glowing Plant!

Here's the link to the first synthetic biology Kickstarter Project. Imagine a world where we grow our light-bulbs in pots!


Those of you who have followed my online migration to twitter in recent years know my handle - @thorsonofodin. While I do have sustained excitement for Marvel's recent re-invigoration of the Thor character I must be honest and tell you I was severely underwhelmed by the first Thor movie.

The Norse myths are so epically fraught with magical characters and harrowing situations I just thought Marvel could have done a better job incorporating some ancient descriptions from the oral tradition of the Vikings. Especially considering that we have such well-preserved examples written down just as Christianity crept north and west across Europe.  The Völuspá and the rest of the Elder Eddas written by the Skaldic poet Snorri Sturluson of Iceland in the 1200s are glowing examples.

Throughout the first Thor movie I was looking for a few of Iðunn's apples or some whispers from the head of Mímir, or perhaps a blow from Heimdal on his Gjallarhorn. Alas I left the theater brooding over the lack of chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman.

I will forgive the transgressions of Thor as the latest in the modern re-telling "Thor: the dark world" looks as though it may make up for some missed opportunities the first time around.

You be the judge.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Windigo Dark Side

As the major news networks flashed the face of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev across television sets all around me last week I kept asking myself  "How does malevolence emerge in a person?"

I recall having similar thoughts while sitting in a white chair watching the sun reflect off the glossy blades of AstroTurf at Schoellkopf field in Ithaca, NY in May 2005.

Though I did not attend Cornell University I did go to the 2005 commencement. There I witnessed a most intriguing commencement speech. Jeffrey Lehman was president of Cornell for a single academic year (2004-05). In his last public appearance as president he delivered a speech framed almost entirely in the language of Star Wars.

Here is a large portion of Lehman's speech. I'm posting it here hoping my readers will digest it with me over the coming days.
It is clear that "special powers you have." You have the power to do good in the world. You have the power to create the magic that will make our lives better, to make constructive contributions to all humanity. We celebrate you and all that you can accomplish.
But we also know that at this moment you might also be feeling a wee bit anxious. You might be wondering, "What if I fail? What if I don't live up to the expectations that others have for me, or that I hold for myself?"
Think of the Star Wars movies. We know that, just as the Force is strong with you, it was also strong with Anakin Skywalker.
He too had special powers. But he ended up as Darth Vader. How could that have happened?
So let me begin by reassuring you. None of you will become Darth Vader. Really.
But perhaps your anxiety might present itself in a slightly milder form: how can you be sure that you do not go over to the Dark Side?
And here I think that I can be of some service to you. This morning I will take a little bit of poetic license and extend the metaphor of the Dark Side to explore some of life's moral complexities, the traps, if you will, that await you on the other side of graduation. These traps might not be so serious as to put you on the road to becoming Sith Lords, but they might nonetheless make it harder for you to realize your full potential.
Let me begin by discussing what I mean, and what I do not mean, by "the Dark Side."
First, when I speak of the Dark Side I am not talking about anything like unwavering devotion to the cause of evil.  That narrow a view doesn't work even in the world of George Lucas. Lucas takes great care to indicate that, as Anakin Skywalker turns into Darth Vader, he does not believe that he is embracing evil. He believes that the Jedi are the ones who have been corrupted; he is committed only to knowing the truth and to saving the life of someone he loves.
Nor can we say that the difference between the Sith and the Jedi is that one pursues its ends through intolerable means and the other restricts itself to benign means. Each side is equally willing to be violent to promote its cause.
The Dark Side I am interested in is more subtle. Think of it not as evil, but as good people run amok. Yielding to a certain kind of wholly understandable temptation, in a way that ends up being counterproductive for the individual or damaging to the larger community.
In your lives after graduation, what forms might that Dark Side take? How might they tempt you? How can you successfully resist them, so that your lives are maximally successful, fulfilling, and beneficial?
Rather than approaching those questions head-on, I would like to examine them indirectly, as they are refracted through the lens of fiction. To do so, I will make use of two different works by one of the great writers of our time, Thomas Pynchon.
Pynchon came to Cornell to study engineering physics in 1953. He was a talented science student, but he was also good in other subjects, and in his sophomore year he decided to major in English.
Pynchon had some wonderful teachers in the English department, people like M.H. Abrams, Baxter Hathaway, James McConkey, Arthur Mizener, and Walter Slatoff. They recognized his prodigious talent early on. One of them saw the potential in a paper that Pynchon wrote for class, entitled, "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna." The literary journal Epoch was edited by Baxter Hathaway at the time, and he decided to publish "Mortality and Mercy in Vienna" in the Spring 1959 issue, just before Pynchon graduated. According to a letter from Pynchon 25 years later, having that story published in Epoch was a major factor in his decision to try to make a living as a writer.
The story concerns a man named Cleanth Siegel who attends a party in Washington, D.C. Siegel finds himself cornered, one at a time, by two different members of an extended, interdependent social group, both of whom regale him with details of their lives, from the petty to the bizarre. As they drone on and on, Siegel feels himself getting fed up with them, and with the entire lot of partygoers. He comes to see himself as a kind of father-confessor to this self-styled group. And then, oddly, he comes to see himself as their savior.
Late in the story, Siegel meets one of the newer, more marginal entrants into the Group, a man named Irving Loon. And Siegel develops a hunch that Loon suffers from a mental illness called Windigo psychosis. A person suffering from Windigo psychosis has a deep identification with the Windigo, a mythical Canadian ice monster that craves human flesh. This identification can often lead the psychotic to become homicidal as well. Pynchon writes, "[I]f this hunch were true, Siegel had the power to work for these parishioners a kind of miracle, to bring them a very tangible salvation."
Now the salvation that Siegel has in mind for them is horrifying. He goes up to Loon and says the word "Windigo," hoping that it might trigger a psychotic break and prompt him to violence. And it works. Loon flips out. While Siegel watches, Loon takes a Browning Automatic Rifle down from the wall, and loads it with ammunition. Siegel casually leaves the party and walks downstairs, whistling as he goes. He hears screams. He shrugs. And as the story ends he hears the first burst of gunfire.
All of us would say that Cleanth Siegel went over to the Dark Side. He would presumably argue that the damage he caused was in some sense necessary to promote a larger good, the overall good of his flock. But this is nothing more than the familiar claim of a fanatic.
Unfortunately, the daily news reminds us that fanatics remain all too present in our world today. In pursuit of what they consider a greater good, they do horrible things. Even murder feels warranted to them, they are so obsessed with achieving their objective.
But in speaking of what I will call the Windigo Dark Side I do not want to limit our attention to this kind of fanaticism. That feels too remote, too distant from our lives. I want to make the challenge more relevant, more difficult, by having the Windigo Dark Side also encompass fanaticism's much milder cousin: tunnel vision.
People afflicted with moral tunnel vision recognize a good, something that carries a positive benefit for the world. They see a path to that good. And they become so committed to pursuing that path that they lose sight of the costs to other values that might be associated with going down that path. These are the kinds of blind spots that can undermine communal life and collective progress.
The temptations of moral tunnel vision are everywhere we look. Think, for example, of the soldiers who, in their efforts to defeat a dangerous enemy, are tempted to slip into torture. Think of the campaign workers who want to help their candidate, and are tempted to caricature the opponent unfairly. Think of the advocates for a cause who are tempted to use tactics that are disproportionate to the goal they champion. Think of the business leaders who are tempted to be stingy about workplace safety in order to improve their price position in a competitive marketplace. Think of the university leaders who are tempted to deform their institutions in hopes of rising in the magazine rankings.
In the world of action you will find that it is surprisingly easy to become convinced of the paramount importance of your cause. It is a short step to see those who oppose you as evil or immoral, or maybe just stupid or naive. And another short step to tell yourself that the harm you inflict on them is necessary to promote a greater good, or might even be, in some way, for their own good.
When you leave Cornell, I know that you will use your Jedi powers to promote noble ends. And I know that most of the time, you will not find it difficult to remain clear-eyed about the relationship between the goals you are pursuing and the means that are appropriate to them. But you should also be prepared to face the temptations of the Windigo Dark Side.
The second Pynchon work that I would like to discuss is his second novel, The Crying of Lot 49, published in 1965. It tells the story of Oedipa Maas and her struggle to make sense of a world in which nothing can be known with certainty.
The book begins when Maas receives a letter informing her that she has been named co-executor of the estate of her ex-boyfriend, Pierce Inverarity. Her efforts to sort out the estate lead her to meet a series of alienated young people, one of whom directs her to attend a play entitled, The Courier's Tragedy. The play feels like a bad imitation of Shakespeare, a senseless mixture of sex, betrayal, torture, and killing. In Pynchon's words, it is "like a Road Runner cartoon in blank verse." Late in the performance, Maas is struck by an obscure reference to "Trystero."
Maas sets off to understand this reference. She traces the evolution of the play's text through different publications, finding many changes associated with the Trystero line, but none that offer any realistic account of why the changes were made. Her odyssey leads her into an increasingly bizarre world. To take just one example, she encounters a man who claims to have built a machine incorporating Maxwell's Demon. Those of you who, like Pynchon, studied physics, know that Maxwell's Demon is an imaginary creature who was invented to get around the second law of thermodynamics. And part of Maas's growing frustration in The Crying of Lot 49 derives from her inability to get the machine to work.
She comes to believe that a conspiracy has created an underground postal system in California, going by the acronym W.A.S.T.E., "We Await Silent Tristero's Empire." As her obsession with the putative conspiracy deepens, Maas finds herself more and more isolated, cut off from her husband, from her psychiatrist, and even from the lawyer she thought was helping her.
Towards the end of the book, Maas is led to an obscure historical source which suggests that Tristero [sic] really existed as a man who, in 1577, set up an underground postal system to challenge the existing postal monopoly in sixteenth century Europe.
And then, just when the reader is tempted to believe that the puzzle has been neatly sorted out, Pynchon shows how W.A.S.T.E. and the entire Tristero postal conspiracy might have been an elaborate hoax, constructed by Inverarity himself in order to torment his ex-girlfriend. But we really cannot be sure. Because this is, after all, a world in which nothing can be known with certainty.
In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon has again given us characters who do not feel quite like us. Cleanth Siegel was a fanatic. And Oedipa Maas seems to be a bit too easily drawn into the world of conspiracies.
But in speaking now of what I will call the Tristero Dark Side I again want to broaden our view. Rather than restricting our focus to conspiracy theorists, I would like to define the Tristero Dark Side by reference to a related but more familiar idea, the rush to judgment. This is the temptation to see too quickly a pattern emerging, to infer too soon an organizing principle, and then to become unable to assimilate contrary evidence into your worldview.
After you leave Cornell, you will have the opportunity to take positions of authority and responsibility. In those roles you will be required to act under conditions of uncertainty, to use your best judgment about what is going on when you have little information. These will be wonderful opportunities for you to do good in the world. They will invite you to draw on your very best qualities your compassion, your intelligence, your intuition.
And at these moments you will also have the opportunity to negotiate the temptations of the Tristero Dark Side. It will be surprisingly easy to believe that you know more than you do, to see more order in the universe than is really there, to see less entropy, to see conspiracies where there is only coincidence. It will take hard work to remind yourself of the limits of your own knowledge, to stay receptive to new evidence, to keep an open mind, especially when you feel very real time pressures weighing on your decision.
Think, for example, of the national leaders who must assess the danger posed by other countries. The journalists who must decide how much credence to give an anonymous tip. The labor negotiators who must decide whether to trust the latest representations that management has made to them. In these contexts, people are naturally tempted to connect the dots. It is more satisfying to know the answer than to live with ambiguity. And often it is easiest to have that answer take the form of malevolence, or conspiracy. It is so tempting to rush to judgment.
And yet, you can defeat the temptations of the Windigo Dark Side and the Tristero Dark Side. You do not have to develop moral tunnel vision. You do not have to rush to judgment. I am happy to provide you with five strategies for staying true to your best selves. Think of them, if you will, as the five virtues of a Jedi Master: a love for complexity, a patient spirit, a will to communicate, a sense of humor, and an optimistic heart.
First, a love for complexity. Fanaticism is anchored in the belief that one has discovered The Truth, a master key that explains the world. That same kind of belief can generate both tunnel vision and a rush to judgment.
When you feel yourself developing that kind of certainty that you have access to a master key, push back. Use all of your intellectual and sympathetic powers to seek out multiple perspectives. See the world through your critics' eyes. Feel your adversaries' pain. When it seems as though you've got it all figured out, ask yourself whether Pierce Inverarity might have led you astray, and whether you might be missing something important.
Second, a patient spirit. When the stakes seem highest, it is natural to believe that only swift and decisive action will do. When you feel that impulse, wait. Take a walk around the block. Review in your mind the foreseeable consequences of your decision the outcome you hope for and the collateral damage that might be avoidable. Remember how much you do not know. Then you will be able to act, and to do so in ways that enable you to keep on learning.
Third, a will to communicate. Pynchon's writings are filled with the communicative failures of his protagonists. Characters have insights, but they fail to share them with others in a way that is intelligible, in a way that can be helpful. And those failures make it easy for the Dark Side to move in. In these circumstances your rule of thumb should be that responsibility lies with the speaker. It is up to the person with the insight to find a way to convey it so that the audience understands.
As you assume greater leadership roles, having acquired special learning, knowledge, or expertise, that rule of thumb will become more and more important. It is not enough to have such learning. And it is not enough to bombard your listeners with data. You must come to understand what the linguist George Lakoff has called "frames" the ways in which your listeners structure their perceptions of the world. And you must help them to develop frames that will allow them to appreciate the importance of the learning you have to share.
Fourth, a sense of humor. Humor is the great enemy of the Dark Side, and the most powerful form of humor is self-deprecation. And here Thomas Pynchon has offered us a priceless example.
After graduating from Cornell, Pynchon emerged as one of the great writers of the twentieth century. His five novels have each won wide acclaim. But he decided early on that he would not accept the celebrity that success can bring. He chose instead to do what he could to preserve normalcy in his life by preserving his privacy. In particular, he avoided cameras. He would not allow his photo to be taken. He declined to give interviews.
But then, to the shock and amusement of a literary world that had become somewhat obsessed with finding Thomas Pynchon, along came the January 25, 2004, episode of the television show, The Simpsons.
In that show, Marge Simpson writes her first novel, The Harpooned Heart. Eager to promote sales of the book, the publisher seeks blurbs from Thomas Pynchon and Tom Clancy.
So picture, in your mind, the following scene. Imagine a Simpsons character. A man wearing a paper bag over his head, with a question mark painted on the bag, above the eyes. He's standing in front of a house, near a big neon sign that reads, "Thomas Pynchon's House. Come On In." The Pynchon character makes a call on his cell phone to Marge's publisher.
And here is what the Pynchon character says. (By the way, this really is the voice of Thomas Pynchon):
["Here's your quote. Thomas Pynchon loved this book. Almost as much as he loves cameras." ]
The Pynchon character ends the call and hangs a big sign around his neck that says "Thomas Pynchon," with an arrow pointing at his head, still covered by a paper bag. He starts shouting at passing cars:
["Hey, over here. Have your picture taken with a reclusive author. Today only, we'll throw in a free autograph. But wait! There's more!"]
A self-deprecating sense of humor will take you far indeed, perhaps all the way to the Simpsons.
And finally, an optimistic heart. When we reflect on Anakin's fall, we recognize that the Dark Side's greatest allies are fear and despair. Those are the emotions that fuel tunnel vision and a rush to judgment. To fight them you must arm yourself with realistic optimism. Not Panglossian denial of the problems in our world. But a kind of working faith that, on balance, over the long haul, things will work out, justice will be served, progress will occur, success will be achieved. That kind of attitude seems to be a predicate for most forms of collective achievement. Think of it, if you will, as the spirit that underlies Episode IV: A New Hope.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mating Display

Jason Silva delivers a new "cinematic espresso shot."

Here Jason shares his enthusiasm for a variation of the "handicap principle."

This hypothesis was originally proposed in 1975 by biologist Amotz Zahavi.

Think conspicuous consumption.

When it comes to sexual-selection the mating display itself is the hadicap. Huge indigo tail-feathers, an egregiously expensive engagement ring or a PhD are possible example "handicaps." Squandering precious resources (metabolic energy, money or time) just to show you are capable of shouldering a heavy burden makes you more attractive to the opposite sex. Or so the theory goes.

Silva attributes a version of this hypothesis to Geoffrey Miller an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico.

Curious to hear what my readers think of this idea.

Are our brains such amazing computers because we just have a burning desire to get laid?

A message from our sponsor.

With the rise of the "Ship your pants" from Kmart I can't help but share this.  New Belgium Brewery has mixed a pinch of organic chemistry, a dash of thermodynamics and little pomology to deliver a well-balanced explainer/performer advertisement.

From the minds at the Mothership I present the latest installment of Bitterman's adventures.

Monday, April 15, 2013

What is this?

Last Friday I held the second MicroscoPARTY. A microscoparty is basically an excuse to nerd-out with friends on the internet with live video from a microscope.

We had a lot of fun but unfortunately the party was not entirely archived as we somehow got cut off about 7 minutes into the discussion. The topic of the evening was food and fungus and we looked at 6 different samples; bread, beer, bread mold, blue cheese, pollen (I know this is not food or fungus but it is EVERYWHERE in Atlanta right now) and finally a drop of fermented tea called Kombucha.

The drop of Kombucha came from a bottle of GT's Guava Goddess.  While perusing the slide I stumbled across the above thing. Full disclosure - I drank a lot of this before sampling so the unknown microbe pictured above may have come from my mouth (though I doubt it). Can you help us identify the curled body in the image? What is this? We have several conjectures from the peanut gallery but I want to conduct an unadulterated survey of TPG readers. Help me crowd-source the answer to this mico-mystery! What is this?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

It's Alive! Magnetic putty has all the right moves.

A special thanks to Joanne Manaster for sharing this video on Google+ earlier today. Phenomenal.

The putty looks like living skin growing around and engulfing those poor cubes and balls.

Is it weird that "lava-sphincter" is the thing that pops into my head as I watch this? 

Makes me wonder how those hydrated sacs of molecular machines we call cells move and grow.

Evolution Remixed - from Carl Sagan's Cosmos

An Open Letter from Tomas Young.

Tomas Young enlisted to fight against those behind the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. A few years after enlisting he found himself in Baghdad's Sadr City shot by an AK47. His spinal cord severed his life would never be the same. He came home and began to speak out against the Iraq war. Why were we fighting a war with a country who had not attacked us? Almost all the terrorists who took control of the planes on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. Why, WHY did we invade Iraq?

These questions have not stopped burning in my mind since George W. Bush started the "Shock and Awe" campaign 10 years ago.

Tomas Young is now on his deathbed and wants to say something to the people who decided to put US forces in Iraq.

A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives.
I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care. I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries.
I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done.
You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes.
The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

Today's CNN story about Tomas prompted me to repost his letter. The video below by CNN I think is not fair. It minimizes his message and focuses on his medical problems. Young's message is above I hope you read it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Saga of Björn.

The Saga Of Bjorn from CreativeZetGraphics on Vimeo.

Thanks to Davide Al-fato Gong for the suggestion!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

3D Printing Life: Molecular Paleontology and the Potential for Anthropogenic Panspermia.

Here we see Austen Heinz of Cambrian Genomics describing the method and potential future applications of 3D printing living things.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Raising the Dead: should we resurrect extinct species?

Also, should we feel obligated to bring back species made extinct directly by human activity? Carl Zimmer contextualizes.

Monday, April 1, 2013