Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inadvertent Advertising

I'm sure this is completely inadvertent, but this email advertised an event I wouldn't have known about otherwise.  The protest?  No, the event they're protesting!  I had no idea that anyone had the guts to keep up the tradition!

Date: Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 1:04 PM
Subject: Co-Sponsoring the protest of the Chief's "Next Dance"

Our lovely Activists,

Last night at our weekly Amnesty International meeting we voted on whether or
not we should sponsor the rally that will be happening Friday, in protest of the
Chief's "Next Dance".

Here is the information that was sent to us form I-Resist:

"In March of 2007, the University of Illinois formally retired the "Chief Illiniwek"
mascot as its symbol. Nonetheless, "Students for Chief Illiniwek" has continued
to revisit the Chief issue by hosting an event known as "The Next Dance" that
will occur at Assembly Hall on Oct. 2nd at 7pm.

In response to the continued efforts to host a violent and abusive mascot on
our campus, The I-Resist Coalition and MEChA de UIUC are organizing
educational demonstrations to occur this week. We are hosting two events,
Deconstructing the Mascot and Not Our Mascot Rally during the week of "The
Next Dance" in order to educate and mobilize the community to reject the
former mascot and the racial stereotypes it perpetuates."

Since Amnesty International is officially co-sponsoring this event, we highly
encourage you to participate in  following according to your interests. Also, you
will notice that the rally is during the HAPPY HOUR we planned for Friday. We
will reschedule HAPPY HOUR for another time in the near future.

"Deconstructing the Mascot"
Wednesday, Sept. 30th
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Illini Union Room 314
We will show the documentary "In Whose Honor?" which highlights the
movement to retire the mascot, followed by video clips from last year's protest
of "The Next Dance". Afterwards, we will be hearing from Jay Rosenstein, the
director of the film, followed by questions and a discussion.

"Not Our Mascot Rally"
Friday, October 2nd
5:00 p.m.
Starts at Alma Mater

5:00 p.m. --- Meet at Alma Mater, march down Sixth Street towards Assembly
6:00 p.m. --- Rally in front of Assembly Hall
7:00 p.m. --- Press Release with speakers from Coalition and co-sponsors
7:30 p.m. --- Open mic
8:15 p.m. --- Conclude with rally as spectators exit Assembly Hall

On Friday, we will open up our campus as a space for political expression
against racism by hosting a march from the Alma Mater to Assembly Hall, and
then holding a rally at "The Next Dance" event with speakers from the coalition
and its co-sponsors.

One last note:
I-Resist also encourages all students, teaching assistants, and faculty to engage
the mascot issue during the week of September 28th, 2009. Make this a
"Teachable Moment". All students should also obtain your Free tickets to go
inside the Assembly Hall for the event. Tickets are available at the Illini Union
across the hotel check-in window. We want everyone to have the opportunity
to witness for themselves what this event is about. But most of all, use your
Freedom of Speech regarding this issue, in multiple contexts and locations...

For more information about the issue, please visit:

SORRY this was such a long email!
We hope to see you all at the rally!
Caitlin and Brad

To Unsubscribe:
In the body of the email, type SIGNOFF amnesty-international-l

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

What Do Your Assumptions Fuel?

It's a mixed bag.

Nowadays, Estabrook is critiquing Obama.  At the beginning of the month, he wrote a satirical column ("Advance Text of Obama's Big Speech,") with Obama addressing the Congress:

"I come before you tonight in a spirit of remorse -- which, I find, requires more audacity than hope does."

That Obama's famed bailouts are a farce, I can agree. But what worldview is guiding Estabrook's denunciations?

The link next to his name on the Tea Party site is a 2003 article entitled "Republic of Fear."  In the article, he agrees with the Constitution only when it agrees with him.  Toward the beginning, he correctly points out that judicial review is unconstitutional.  But in the latter part of the article, he pointedly dismisses the electoral college on charges that it is "pre-cooked," and unpopular in opinion polls.

Also tellingly, while some have called Saddam's Iraq a "Republic of Fear," Eastabrook says that that phrase actually applies to -- surprise! -- the U.S. under Bush.  In his estimation, Saddam really wasn't that bad.  It was just politically expedient (for unexplained reasons) to portray him as such!

"[T]he true 'republic of fear,' it was clear by then, is the United States of America. Only in America was government propaganda able to make citizens personally afraid of Saddam Hussein, sufficiently to promote a war for non-existent 'weapons of mass destruction.' 911 was a godsend to the Bush administration, for in all the world only Americans could be made to fear Saddam Hussein because of his supposed link to 'terrorism.'"

Estabrook subscribes to the common fallacy that one nation and one nation alone is capable of true evil: the United States.  All other nations or leaders are capable only of semi-evil, and this only from direct contact with the U.S.  

As if this wasn't bad enough, he goes on to say this:

"At the end of the Second World War in Europe, the US and its allies tried and executed the German leadership for launching aggressive war, on the basis of international law formulated as the Nuremberg Principles. If those principles were applied to recent American presidents in the same way, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush pere et fils would have to be hanged. Remember, mental incompetence does not preclude execution in the US."

He is not simply a Democrat apologist, because he includes Clinton in this list of Presidents to be hanged.  Has he, like Chomsky, have decided that no war is justifiable, and that anyone engaging in war is a war criminal?  This would be a simple formula, yes.  But selectivity and specificity are different concepts which must both be taken into consideration.

He must still believe what he wrote in his 2003 article.  Why else would this link be publicized on the Tea Party website?    

In 2005, he wrote "The Subversive Commandments," which states: 

"Conservatives defend the postings in Kentucky and Texas on the grounds that the Ten Commandments 'formed the foundation of American legal tradition.' Liberals on the other hand insist that the posting is an 'establishment of religion,' contrary to the first amendment to the Constitution. In fact, both are wrong:..."

So conservatives are wrong, and liberals are wrong.  Who is right?  Estabrook.  He believes that:

"The Ten Commandments in their historical setting are a revolutionary manifesto, dedicated to the overthrow of traditional authority and religion... The Ten Commandments in their proper historical context commend atheism in regard to the religion of the gods and anarchism in respect to the laws of the kings.  Arising from a revolutionary people, they support the overthrow of authoritarian structures in the name of human community.  That sounds pretty good to me."

In Estabrook's beliefs, the Ten Commandments are not absolute truth handed down by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to guide His people to a right relationship with Him.  They are an instigation to anarchy.  

Who is this guy, anyway?  Moonbat Central ("Hunting the Radical Snark") critiqued his deconstruction of the Ten Commandments.  It also looked into his background.

"Estabrook has been a long-term visiting professor of sociology at the University of Illinois, although not in their department of sociology, but rather in some sort of arms control unit there, and before that he was at Notre Dame.  Searchign high and low in the computerized bibliographies of academic research, we just could not find a single academic publication by Estabrook in sociology, religion or history (which he also claims to be expert in. Please do not confuse this Carl Estabrook with another one, at Dartmouth, the latter being a serious scholar and historian.)
"So, rather than doing any academic research, what does our Estabrook do with himself?  Well, he tries to lobby the University of Illinois to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, he lobbies on behalf of Fidel, he justitifies bin Laden's 9-11 attacks on the US, he compares Bush and his people to German Nazis while praising Norman Finkelstein, he prepares leftists agitprop, bashes Israel and Jews, teams up with Fisk to bash America, sucks up to Noam Chomsky, denounces Americans Ward-Churchill style as terrorists, and gets creamed trying to run for Congress as a Green Party rep."

I question the phrase "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  This assumes that there are only two sides to join.  As Estabrook demonstrates, there are nearly always more than two political camps.  At some points, his political views and mine intersect.  But that certainly doesn't mean that we share a united worldview!

The Tea Party description says that political activists from across the spectrum are invited.  Being something more than a Republican or Democratic apologist, Estabrook can probably offer a unique view of political events.  But what is his view based upon, and are his undergirding assumptions of such a nature that they consistently reflect reality?

Based on his other writings, I would have to conclude that Estabrooks assumptions often do not reflect reality. 

Many people define themselves but what they are not.  I think Estabrook is an example.  He's vocal about what he is not.  But what is he?  He's rejected the Biblical God, an unpopular but legally-binding element of the Constitution, and Republican and Democratic presidents who have engaged in wars he disagrees with.  He is left with a devotion to his own beliefs, but what absolute reference point does he have?  What rock is he standing on that he can offer to others?

It's an interesting question: how is a political movement organized?  How do you decide who to partner with, and to what extent?  Take the anti-slavery movement in the UK under Wilberforce, as an example.  The abolitionists agreed that slavery was wrong, but many had different ways of coming to that conclusion.  They could work together to end slavery, but they had different worldviews that described why they should do this.  Wilberforce wanted to end slavery because he was convinced that God wanted to end slavery.  But he had no sympathy for the French Revolution, and its absolutizing of man.  Some of his supporters were on fire for ending slavery, but were equally on fire for supporting the French Revolution ("Jacobins").  Wilberforce was willing to work with those who had different motivations, but he did not allow their underlying assumptions to dictate his.  (Sometimes, however, their political ties still sullied his).  

And when they broke off to follow other pursuits, he did not feel beholden to break off with them.  So, this seems to produce a core-and-haze structure.  The core is made up of people who share a worldview, and the haze is produced by a fringe of people with a different worldview that sometimes coincides with the worldview of the core and sometimes doesn't.  If you had two axes for a movement, for example, x = individual liberty and y = God's authority, you would get quite a distribution.  In the case of English abolition, Biblical Christians would tend to coincide more often if you plotted their beliefs about individual liberty and God's authority, but those who were abolitionists but were not Biblical Christians would have a very different distribution.  Thus, the plot would be a bell curve.  If you had an aerial view of it, you'd see a circle with a hazy outer border -- a core-and-haze.  The inner circle of Wilberforce's movement was made up of people with the same worldview -- Biblical Christians.  Which makes sense: when two people's motivation is springing from the same source, it's more likely that you'll be harmonized in your course of action.  Plus, it's easier to remind one another of why they're doing this in the first place!  That's why the core, or heart, of any movement (Marxist, etc.) -- from what I've seen -- will always be people of like-mind, who share a worldview.  Others may join you or desert you (William Pitt, etc.) as your views coincide or diverge from theirs, but those with like-mind will continue most constantly.  It's not as if formal boundaries are set between supporters with different motivations.  The process is self-selecting.)

And to be clear, my descriptions of "core" and "haze" does not mean that only those in the core will be involved in important decisions and actions.  By no means.

In the U.S., there was definitely a mixed-bag when it came to abolition, as well.  Again, Biblical Christianity was the core worldview that gave rise to abolition, and fueled many Americans' opposition to the dehumanizing trade and use of slaves.  There were also many non-Christians involved in the struggle.  The issue is, just because there are some shared characteristics does not mean that a movement is homogeneous.  What's shared is a motivation.  What's different are the assumptions that fuel that motivation.  Some fuels will burn more consistently than others. Some fuels will provide one big boom, and then fizzle into nothing.  Others provide an even, predictable burn.  Some fuels haven't been properly ignited, so even though they could produce a fine blaze, they simply smolder and discourage the one trying to ignite it.  Finally, others are given a specially increased allottment of fuel, so that its output is much more enhanced than those using the same fuel in smaller quantities.

Another factor to consider is free will.  People do not always act consistently with their worlview.

One more point, and then I'll have done.  Because of this heterogeneity in a movement, it's incredibly important to be clear when critiquing or praising them.  John Brown was an abolitionist, but it certainly doesn't mean that every abolitionist was a crazy-eyed, white-maned anarchist.  At the same time, your actions often do reflect back on the movement you've espoused, rightly or wrongly!

So, unite on what you can, but recognize that sometimes motivations come from entirely distinct fuels.

On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 9:34 AM, I wrote:
A dissenter???

On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 12:10 AM, Mom wrote:
Dr. Carl Estabrook (Visiting Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Dear _____________:
The above professor is named as one of the speakers at a big Tea Party like gathering being planned for several states:


Folks from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Iowa, etc. are invited and encouraged to attend.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Free or Not Free

If I was a Calvinist, I'd be tickled pink about these developments: science confirms Augustine, and thus Calvin!  As it is, the shallow assessment in the announcement below shows the author's complete materialism.  What is the origin of personality?  That's not a question worth answering.  Personality is an illusion.

Is the author prepared to live in a world guided by his/her conclusions?  Where no one is held responsible for his/her actions?  Anarchy, Hades, the book of Judges, welcome.

Even if this person is discussing these ideas "only academically," and has no intention of changing criminal law to reflect these "intriguing ideas," beware of the students of this professor.  Like Saul to Gamaliel, the students to Jimmy Stewart in Rope, and Marxists to Marx, the students are often willing to take their instructor's ideas to new depths their instructor would never have thought possible.

The idea of scientific respectability is weak grounds for the course of action Moore is expounding.  The question is not "do some scientists respect this idea?" but "is it true?"  Ahh... absolute truth!  But in a world that does not recognize absolute truth, we're left with endless poll-taking.  But this produces more questions than answers.  Do some scientists respect the idea of determinism.  Of course.  Do all?  Of course not.  At what threshhold does an idea become respectable?  When 100% of scientists respect it?  Too ambitious?  95%?  When the dissenters have been liquidated? 

Ironically, only when a relavist's pet idea is on the outs do they recognize the mutability of science.  Sure, some scientists don't accept this, but science is always changing!  A complete reversal comes once the pet idea is accepted, however.  Then, the rock solid nature of science is emphasized.  Global warming has been proved!  Determinism has been proved!  Mutable?  Not now!  The doubts are only emphasized in order to move you away from your current theory.  Once you've adopted their theory, no additional doubt is required.  Now the theory is discussed as unquestionable fact.  Note that this announcement did not mention any existing theories that challenge the deterministic one.

There's several fundamental flaws lurking here.  One especially noxious one is that because this author does not recognize the supernatural realm, s/he concludes that it does not exist.  But this akin to a blind person claiming that there is no such thing as the moon, or a person working with only nonmagnetic materials rejecting the idea of magnetism.  Recognize the limits of your instruments, materials, and method.  You cannot make conclusions about what you will not probe.

Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices
Michael Moore, CAS Professor of Law and Philosophy, Illinois

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
7:30 PM
Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium
600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The neuroscience of the last 30 years has discovered that our voluntary actions are initiated by certain happenings in our brains well prior to our consciously willing such actions to occur. That finding seems to threaten the common sense view of persons as agents who both cause such actions and are morally responsible for them. This finding also seems to threaten persons deserving retributive punishment for such actions by the criminal law. Three different interpretations of this finding ground three distinct bases for these threats to our conception of ourselves as responsible agents. First, the finding is taken to show that our choices are not free but are determined by certain brain events over which we have no control. Second, the finding seems to show that our choices do not cause the actions they seem to cause; rather, such choices seem to be merely "epiphenomenal" with voluntary actions, that is, co-effects of some common cause in the brain but themselves lacking any causal power over human actions. Third, the finding is taken to show that consciousness does not guide the actions it seems to guide but is merely an accompanying side effect of certain brain events that are the real causes of human actions. Contemporary neuroscience has thus made concrete and scientifically respectable a series of related challenges to our being responsible agents, challenges that have existed speculatively and in the abstract since the rise of Hobbesian materialism. The lecture assesses whether these challenges are more successful in the hands of contemporary neuroscience than they were in the hands of earlier psychologies, be they those of a Hobbes, a Freud, or a Skinner.

All CAS events are free and open to the public.

Friday, September 25, 2009

He Reigns!

He Reigns (Newsboys)

It's the song of the redeemed

Rising from the African plain

It's the song of the forgiven

Drowning out the Amazon rain

The song of Asian believers

Filled with God's holy fire

It's every tribe, every tongue, every nation

A love song born of a grateful choir
It's all God's children singing

Glory, glory, hallelujah

He reigns, He reigns

It's all God's children singing

Glory, glory, hallelujah

He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds

Caught up in the heavenly sound

Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals

To the faithful gathered underground

Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation

Some were meant to persist

Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples

None rings truer than this
And all the powers of darkness

Tremble at what they've just heard

'Cause all the powers of darkness

Can't drown out a single word
When all God's children sing out

Glory, glory, hallelujah

He reigns, He reigns

All God's people singing

Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Re: [Igb_master] BioE Big Ten Exchange Seminar Announcement - "Evolution of alternative splicing in mammalian cells"

Another way to look at this is...
The species-specific exon activities calls for another look at the distinguishing characteristics of species.  It also leads us to question the assumption that each species evolved from another, since there are distinct barriers for one species to transition to another.  Since aberrant splicing has been linked to disease, it leads us to believe that the purpose of the organism's reproduction is not to produce new species, but to reproduce the old offspring with recombined DNA, exhibiting genetic diversity to protect against disease, but still being a member of a distinct species.  (One short-coming here is, of course, that we don't know what the term "species" is.  But the recombination of old components into new patterns within certain boundaries is definitely a common -- yet profound -- biological phenomenon).

When I read the sentence
"...[W]e have shown that humans and closely related mammalian species display widespread differences in exon usage and splicing patterns, suggesting an important role of species-specific splicing regulation in the acquisition of human-specific traits."
I was dumbfounded.  It's data, comma, interpretation.  And the interpretation is a function of the evolutionary assumptions of those analyzing the data:

i = f(a)
interpretation = function of assumptions

Can you imagine what would happen if for one moment the "roof was lifted," and evolutionary biologists imagined life without evolution?

The sun would stream in, and the submissions to Nature and Science would be filled with amazingly diverse interpretations where once the theory of "evolution" kept out the light.

Thursday, October 1, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
2240 Digital Computer Lab (DCL)
Yi Xing, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Departments of Internal Medicine & Biomedical Engineering
University of Iowa

Alternative splicing is a major source of regulatory and functional diversity in higher eukaryotes. In humans, over 90% of multi-exon genes are alternatively spliced, and aberrant alternative splicing causes a broad range of diseases. We have developed new computational tools for global analysis of alternative splicing using array and sequencing based technologies. By combining these high-throughput approaches with detailed molecular investigations, we have shown that humans and closely related mammalian species display widespread differences in exon usage and splicing patterns, suggesting an important role of species-specific splicing regulation in the acquisition of human-specific traits. For example, contrary to the common belief that newly born exons in the genome are predominantly evolutionary intermediates without established functions, we found extensive creation of new exons with strong splicing activities or tissue-specific splicing patterns during primate and human evolution. These findings shed light on how evolutionary innovations in RNA processing expand the functional and regulatory repertoire of eukaryotic genomes.    

Dr. Yi Xing is an assistant professor at the Departments of Internal Medicine and Biomedical Engineering of the University of Iowa. He received his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and B.E. in Computer Science and Technology in 2001 from the University of Science and Technology of China. He completed his Ph.D. training in Bioinformatics with Dr. Christopher Lee at the University of California, Los Angeles (2001-2006), and his postdoctoral training with Drs. Wing Hung Wong and Matthew Scott at the Stanford University (2006-2007).  Dr. Xing has published extensively on genome-scale analysis of mammalian gene expression and RNA splicing. His group is currently combining genomic, bioinformatic, and molecular approaches to study variations of pre-mRNA processing within and between species. His research spans the areas of bioinformatics, genomics, evolutionary biology, and medical genetics.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ain't They a Baby?

There's a reason why it's called the fetal position.

If you lived in a country where millions of people in your exact innocent situation had been remorselessly killed without legal recourse or benefit of painkillers, and your very personhood was denied, wouldn't you curl up into the fetal position?

What's gotten me mad tonight was a pedigree chart on my biochem slides.  The key showed the standard square for a guy, and a circle for a girl.  But then it showed a symbol that made me stare.  It showed a diamond shape for a "fetus."

This is worse than ignorant.  This is deliberately obfuscating the truth.  Every fetus has a full genome, and has had once since conception.  Why not just man up and show that baby as either a square or a circle, a guy or a girl?  Or are you afraid of the ramifications of this?

It just chills my marrow to see how complete the baby-dehumanizing agenda is -- even within the medical community.

It calls to mind the question one brave soul asked not so many years ago: "Ain't I a woman?"

I hereby name every unnamed male baby in utero Dred Scott, and every unnamed female baby in utero Sojourner Truth.

Ain't they a baby?

White Army

[This is fiction]

...And in other news, immunologists have recently unearthed racist overtones in the nomenclature of cells.  As Mark Nielander of Mesquite University wrote in the lastest issue of the journal Phlegm, "Imperialism runs deep.  Is it any surprise that our forebears, then, named our most aggressive cells 'white blood cells?'"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fuzzy Thinking

A professor posted the following statement on his door.  It's next to a picture of a man walking past a matted, forlorn kitten.

"Science may have found a cure for most evils but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings."

1) What about the apathy of penguins?
2) What about survival of the fittest?
3) What enables you to make value judgments?

As James R. White said in his debate on campus this spring, "You're borrowing from my worldview."  You can't simultaneously tell me that man is no more than an animal, and tell me that humans have a great moral responsibility to other animals.  Morality has no meaning if it has no absolute foundation.  The strongest statement you can say is, "I don't like that you've done this."  You can never say "What you've done is wrong."

Lex Rex or Rex Lex?

You'd think that we humans would have learned our lesson by now.  Rex Lex dissolves into despotism, and our hope for law and order is Lex Rex.

Yeah, well, tell that to officials at East Georgia College.

After Professor Thomas Thibeault pointed out that a person incorrectly charged with sexual harassment under the school's code had no recourse, the college by way of President John Bryant Black demonstrated his point.

Black told Thibeault that he "was a divisive force in the college at a time when the college needed unity" and that Thibeault must resign by 11:30 a.m. or be fired and have his "long history of sexual harassment ... made public." This unsubstantiated allegation took Thibeault by surprise. Black added that Thibeault would be escorted off campus by Police Chief Drew Durden and that Black had notified the local police that he was prepared to have Thibeault arrested for trespassing if he returned to campus. At no point was Thibeault presented with the charges against him or given any chance to present a defense. Refusing to resign, Thibeault understood that he was fired.

There's many questions here.  First off, if Thibeault truly had a "long history of sexual harassment," (as defined by the EGC code) why in the world would this college continue to employ him?  Why would this long history only be used as blackmail material instead of being properly dealt with at the time it occurred? 

Second, what happened to the cult of diversity?  And what happened to academic freedom?  All Thibeault had to do was to raise a question which showed a different worldview, and he was removed.  Isn't his worldview protected from slurs?  According to the EGC code, students should be protected from slurs against them based on "race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin, age or disability or that of their relatives, friends, or associates..." (yes, gender and sex are listed separately!).  Nope, worldview is not on this list.  Thus, people are sensitized to anything remotely approaching a slur based on sex, but a slur against someone's worldview is acceptable?  Welcome to college.  Diversity is welcome only if it is condoned by the authorities on a college campus.  Laws melt in the hands of college authorities, and the individual has no protection from the capricious dictates of administrators.  Rex is Lex.

It's very shrewd that this college has leveled the charge of sexual harassment against Thiebeault.  Such a charge is so loaded that even a charge such as this is often more than enough for a complete character assassination.  I'm reminded of the U.S.S.R.'s generous application of the term "political."  This term carried horrifying consequences and connotations, and when the penal code was interpreted broadly, anyone could be charged with a political crime.  Thus, starving children picking up bread that had dropped from a passing government truck and a person who absentmindedly used a newspaper with Stalin's picture in it for a carpentry project could be deemed political prisoners.  Without knowing any details of the case, a person labeled "political" was guilty until proved innocent.  But no one ever was.

What's the communistic slogan?  The tallest grass gets cut first?  You and I may not be threatened with allegations of sexual harrassment -- yet.  But we've got to pray for those who are.  Fortunately for Tom Thibeault, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has joined his cause.

You can read the fully story here.

Update on Novel H1N1 Influenza

Ready or not, here it comes.
Honestly, though, from all the media hype I would have thought that the symptoms would be much more severe!
(It's not that I want to get it or anything, though!)

Date: Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 1:34 AM
Subject: MASSMAIL - Update on Novel H1N1 Influenza
To: All Faculty & All Academic Professionals & All Civil Service Staff & All Undergrad Students & All Grad Students <>

Dear Members of the Campus Community:

I write to offer an update on the Novel H1N1 Influenza affecting our
campus. To date, we have reported more than 250 suspected cases of Novel
H1N1 flu - sometimes called swine flu - at the Urbana campus, and we
expect that number to increase in the coming weeks. So far, many cases
have been relatively mild, with fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches
being the primary symptoms.

To reduce your risk of catching even a mild case of the flu, please
remember to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose when you
cough or sneeze and avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses and other
items. If you get the flu, isolate yourself until you have been free of
fever without the aid of fever-reducing medicine for at least 24 hours. If
you are a student, consider contacting your parents and arrange to
recuperate at your permanent home.

Come to McKinley if you have suspected influenza and also have an
underlying illness, such as diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, or asthma, or if
you are pregnant. If you feel that you've started to recover from
influenza and your fever returns, you also should seek medical attention.
Most other students with influenza will be able to manage without medical
assistance. We will document your illness if you call the 24/7 Dial-a-
Nurse (217-333-2700) or visit McKinley.

Other members of the campus community who experience flu-like symptoms
should contact their family physician.

In efforts to prevent the spread of either Novel H1N1 and of seasonal flu,
I recommend that you consider getting vaccinated for both types of flu
this fall. The shot for seasonal flu will be available soon at McKinley or
from your personal physician. Check the McKinley Web site for more
information about availability of the flu vaccine. A Novel H1N1 vaccine is
expected to be ready in late October or November, and McKinley plans to
offer it to students, faculty, and staff in accordance with priorities
established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information on Novel H1N1 and how you can protect yourself from
it, visit:

Warm regards,

Dr. Robert Palinkas
Director, McKinley Health Center

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

Monday, September 14, 2009


Isn't "well-rounded" another term for "dull"?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yeah for Nothing, Nothing for Yeah!

Some of the easiest things in life are marked with ten humongous signs starting twenty mile before you get there: "Bump ahead!"  You get there, and say, "I see the sign, but where's the bump?"  A police escort surrounds you as you trot over it with ease, and on the other side there's a huge crowd of people congratulating you... for what?  You try to dodge the paparazzi, but your picture's still printed with the big title "HERO!"

Then some huge, gigantic, life-altering challenge comes along with no warning, no sign, no reassurance.  You crawl over it, clawing with your fingernails and almost despairing of life.  When you reach the other side, you find that you're alone, and no one cares that you got across.

Kinda funny how things work.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


([Steve] sent a point-by-point commentary on what I'd written.  I'm not publishing that here, but here's a couple follow-up points that I originally was going to send to him, but later decided not to.  It's useful for me to know, but it wasn't about what he was asking.  I emailed to let him know I think it's easier to discuss this in person).

from the last discussion, I wasn't exactly sure which claims you were concerned about.

No translation is guaranteed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit -- only the original writings come with that guarantee.  That's why minor textual variations in even the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts aren't horrifying to me.  Since the originals couldn't survive forever, the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts scholars study are copies of copies.  Minor copyist errors are to be expected.  (And if they weren't there, I might wonder if these were forgeries!)  The original writings (Holy Spirit + John + pen + paper) were inspired by God, and our goal is to understand the original meaning and intent of God.  Every attempt to reach back to them is flawed in some way or another, but in varying degrees.  We must continually look for the least flawed way to understand God's original communication.  But the blessed thing is, each of us isn't alone in this: the Holy Spirit is an awesome guide!

I would like some books and studies that details your claims. Yes, He is an awesome guide, but how do I know that I'm relying on Him and not my own authority or even the devil?

I said "No translation is guaranteed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit" because it's the original message that was inspired.  People do translations, people are flawed, and since the Holy Spirit has never guaranteed that He has inspired a translation like he inspired the original writing, I conclude that no translation is perfect. 

As far as the copying process, based on handwriting analysis, the oldest NT manuscript we have is from ≈ 125 A.D., and that's just a fragment.  Here's some info on the age of the oldest manuscripts NT we have: site 1, site 2.

We don't have the original, handwritten manuscripts that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc., wrote on, but we do have copies that were rapidly disseminated after they were written, which gave very little time for anyone with an original to make changes and try to change what was written.

The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible.

Today, He helps people today...
1) in correcting the minor textual variations in the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts so that the original words in these languages are clear
2) in guiding translators who examine the Greek and Hebrew words and translate their meaning into English
3) the individual believer reading the English translation and understanding the meaning

The Holy Spirit's message to the authors of the Bible was perfect, and they wrote it down perfectly.  Our goal today is to understand that message perfectly.  People succeed at those three processes I showed above (esp. the last two) to different degrees, because they have different degrees of knowledge, motivation, and leaning on the Spirit. 

Watch Out for the Flying Email!

Email is a blessing.  Email is a curse.

While email can rapidly help you communicate with others, it can also rapidly cause you to miscommunicate with others.  I'm posting an example of a conversation about the ESV that illustrates this.  The emails are shown in chronological order.  I've labeled the two authors as "Steve" (the first author) and "Eve" (me).

On Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 8:53 AM, [Steve] wrote:

Among Bible translators, there are two schools of thought: one is to translate word for word, from Greek or Aramaic into English; the other is to restate images and metaphors in modern English.

"The English Standard Version Bible, published in 2001, takes the literal approach. The New International Version, first published in 1978 and updated in 1984, straddles that and what scholars call the "dynamic equivalent" approach.

Bible scholar Wayne Grudem, an English Standard Version translator, explains the differences in these two passages:

Mark 6:2

• ESV:  "How are such mighty works done by his hands?"

• NIV: "... He even does miracles."

• Why it matters: "The NIV has no mention of hands. But hands are important. Jesus and his disciples laid on hands to pray for healing. You can't use that verse when the hands aren't there," Grudem says.

Galatians 5:16

• ESV: "Walk by the Spirit."

• NIV: "Live by the Spirit."

• Why it matters: "Everyone agrees, the Greek word means 'walk.' You lose a lot when you don't say it. Walking means progress, movement toward a goal. And it connects with other parts of the Bible: walking in Jesus' footsteps, or not walking in the counsel of evil," Grudem says.
I didn't write this (I'm not that scholarly).  This is taken from this article: .

On Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 8:36 PM, [Eve] wrote:

Maybe in 400 years there's going to be an "NIV-only" movement, with ESVers explaining that, "No, Paul didn't use the NIV."

On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 8:29 AM, [Steve] wrote:

Is this supposed to be a joke?

On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 9:28 AM, [Eve] wrote:


On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 10:15 AM, [Steve] wrote:


I don't appreciate sarcasm in replies especially to articles that I sent with the goal to inform the brethren.  I take Biblical translation seriously and my goal in sending such articles is for us to appreciate the scholarship of translating the Bible.  Although I do favor the ESV over the NIV, I did not send this article to condemn the NIV, rather learning from these scholars was my goal.  I have received numerous response defending the NIV, which is fine, but sarcasm and lack of respect and lack of intelligent discussion is totally inappropriate.  I ask that you consider what you did. And I try to say this will grace and love.  If I sound harsh, please forgive me.



On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 11:42 AM, [Eve] wrote:

Hey, [Steve]
Thanks for letting me know your concerns. 
I also take Bible translation seriously, and what I sent was not intended to mock it.  Instead, it was intended to show how wrong it is to absolutize any translation, and how new translations can help us realize this -- as long as we don't absolutize them either!

When I first read your email, my first thought was, "Oh boy, this really whacks at the NIV!"  I wanted to defend the NIV against the criticisms in the email, and/or show the limitations of the ESV.  In short, I was tempted to take offense.  But I decided not to.  What it showed me was that my knee jerk reaction is to clutch the NIV and try to defend it.  Understanding that helped me understand a mindset I'd struggled to identify with before -- namely, the KJV-only movement.

Are you familiar with the KJV-only movement?  They believe that the KJV is the only translation that is proper for a Christian to use. 

In the past, I couldn't understand why they would get so up-in-arms about a translation.  But now I see: when you have a version you're familiar with, you've memorized verses, you just plain like, you want to hear it praised, not criticized. (I know that for many KJV only folks, their reasoning goes deeper than this, but on these areas where we overlap in our reasoning for being partisan, I can identify with their position).

I wasn't a KJV-onlyist.  But I was on a fast track of becoming an NIV-onlyist.  After all, I was convinced that the NIV was better!  What I forgot was that it wasn't the best.

What I originally sent to you was meant to be a self-spoof.  I took my initial reaction and looked at what it would become if I gave it 400 years.  If people start putting their faith in the NIV (or any translation) in the way that people have been putting their faith in the KJV, then it will cause the same problems that KJV-onlyism has.  If anyone ever starts clinging to the NIV in an unhealthy way, it might just take a new version -- such as the ESV -- to show them the flaws in their version, and recognize that our allegiance lies with Christ, not any specific translation.  The NIV has helped some see the flaws in the KJV, but it should not be accepted as sacrosanct.  In the same way, the ESV will help people see the flaws in the NIV, but it itself should not be viewed as sacrosanct.  It would be ironic if anyone started using the NIV -- which has delivered many from KJV-onlyism - as the basis for a NIV-onlyism movement.

No translation is guaranteed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit -- only the original writings come with that guarantee.  That's why minor textual variations in even the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts aren't horrifying to me.  Since the originals couldn't survive forever, the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts scholars study are copies of copies.  Minor copyist errors are to be expected.  (And if they weren't there, I might wonder if these were forgeries!)  The original writings (Holy Spirit + John + pen + paper) were inspired by God, and our goal is to understand the original meaning and intent of God.  Every attempt to reach back to them is flawed in some way or another, but in varying degrees.  We must continually look for the least flawed way to understand God's original communication.  But the blessed thing is, each of us isn't alone in this: the Holy Spirit is an awesome guide!

So, my ultimate trust is not in the NIV or any other translation.  My ultimate trust is in God, Who knows how to preserve and communicate His Word.  Thanks for your original email.  It was a good reminder of that.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Demon's Mercy

     If the terms of the Geneva convention have not been upheld, the Geneva convention does not apply.  Until a friend sent me this article, I had no idea that Germans had tried to infiltrate our lines at the Battle of the Bulge, that we'd recorded their executions, and that the film had been aired on the History Channel. 
     Does this seem brutal to our "refined" sensibilities?  As Sowell reminds us, mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.  Oddly enough, I was talking to a labmate about a related topic just today.  It wasn't in the context of the recent CIA interrogator case.  It was just about the death penalty in general.  He asked me if the state taking the life of a murderer was any less brutal than the murderer's original crime.  I reminded him that only the original crime was murder; the state's execution was indeed killing, but it was just.
    My labmate objected that no penal system is 100% accurate, and that some of the people sentenced to death will be innocent.  I agreed with him that no system is perfect, but I also pointed out that we must strive to produce a better penal system, instead of giving up and having none at all.  (There is a huge responsibility in conducting trials ethically and justly, but for all the ambiguity that so many people like to inject into the question, we should be glad that DNA testing has cleared up so much of the murkiness.  But who is emphasizing this technique when the question of false positives comes up?) 
    For the first time, in the middle of this conversation, I saw so clearly how my view of eternity affects my view of this question.  I don't see the death penalty as the end of a person's life if that person is a Christian.  Instead, it's the beginning of a new chapter.  Please understand that I do not in any way view the needle used for lethal injection or the apparatus for the electric chair as surrounded with a heavenly glow.  I hate death.  I absolutely hate it.  But in the case of murder when someone has been proven to be guilty, the death penalty is a just, defensible, and necessary act.  By murdering another person, the murderer has forfeited his own life.  His speedy execution can be a deterrent to others who are considering a "Final Solution" to their own problems.  (Though my labmate disputed this point!).  In some ways, the person sentenced to die has an incredible advantage over the vast majority of the population: he or she has a very good idea of when they'll die.  My labmate thought that a person should be given years to think about their crime and feel remorse, but I think that an extended length of time -- even on death row -- would lessen the need to think about wrongdoing.  If I might live fifty years more, why should I bother about feeling remorse for forty nine years?  I'll cry my tears of contrition during my final meal.  I must confess that I don't actually have any figures showing which course produces more remorse or repentance, but based on my line of reasoning, if I was a murderer with only a short time before execution and the details of my act still fresh in my mind, I think I would be more likely to repent than after forty-nine years of cobwebs had accumulated.
      Another thing I showed my labmate is that it's a mistake to think of criminals in a different set from myself.  With very few exceptions -- and those stemming only from a lack of physical strength -- I am capable of any crime that was ever committed.  Realizing this, and knowing from my own remorse when I've done something wrong, I know that any crime can be regretted.  The best case scenario would be for the defendant to recognize his/her guilt, and understand the necessity of the death penalty.  I hope that every inmate on death row takes advantage of their unique position to understand the seriousness of death, and their need for a Savior!  But it is not mercy to prolong their life after they have been sentenced. 
      It is demonic mercy that demands that no crime be punished. 
      I have one final question, and then I'll have done.  I am a murderer.  Why, then, am I not to be punished with death?  I have hated many, many people.  Jesus said that if I hated someone, it was the same as murdering them.  Why, then, am I walking the streets as a free woman?  Because God forgave those crimes.
     God is the only one who forgave crimes, and He has the ability and authority to step into any situation, forgive a person's sin, and halt their penalty.  He's done it again and again, with the first murderer (Cain), with an adulterer-murderer (David), and with others -- but He is the only one with the authority to do this.
      If I went into a court and started telling people I forgave them their sins and was suspending their sentences, you'd say I was crazy.  And you'd be right.  But Jesus can do this same thing -- forgiving sins and suspending sentences -- because He is God, the author of justice, and the One we sin against first and foremost whenever we sin.
      At any time He can suspend our manmade sentences, forgive a person, and let them out scott-free.  But if He chooses not to do this, we must be prepared to carry out our grim duty of trying, and if the defendant is found guilty, sentencing, and executing.
     What's glorious is that God forgives anyone who asks Him for forgiveness.  He might deliver them from a death penalty (like He did with David), or He might simply but beautifully assure them that they'll be with Him in Paradise (like He did with the thief hanging beside Him).
      What Love is this!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Second on the Ban List?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is amazing.  I was looking into his writings today, and found that his collected works will be published soon.  That's comforting, because my gradual process of picking up kernels works fine, but I'd love to find an ear and chow down!  I found an essay of his called Godlessness, The First Step to Gulag.  "...[W]hy should one refrain from burning hatred, whatever its basis--race, class, or ideology? Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today. Atheist teachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society. Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (and Communism is breathing down the neck of all moderate forms of socialism, which are unstable) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degree of authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain 'equality'--the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today's free world..." Boy, this stuff is profound.  If I was a Marxist, I know which author I'd put second on my ban list (first would, of course, be Christ)!

Voice of the Martyrs recently mailed me a book by the founder of VOM.  Its startling title is "Marx & Satan."  Solzhenitsyn emphasizes this connection as well: "It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that 'revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.' That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot."

As simple as it may sound, as we are struggle along in the swirling sewage of modern culture, gasping for an unpolluted breath, there is a single answer to the various problems giving rise to this steady stream of filth.  That answer is God Himself, the One Who Is, the One Who Was, and the One Who Will Be.  Blessed be His majestic, holy, pure, righteous, kingly, mighty Name!!!

It's Easier

It's easier to ask "How have I been wronged?" than "How have I been wrong?"

Chauvinism Is a Two-Way Street

Some things just confuse me.  Like the following title: "Saccharin: Gender and Power in the Making and Marketing of Artificial Sweetener."  It's like when I read an announcement for a talk last night: "Sexuality and Socialism."  You read it once, you read it again, you still don't think you've read it right, and then you file it under "Weird Things to Be Expected at Institutes of Higher Leaning."  (And yes, the "r" is intentionally removed!).
     I'm trying to see if anyone besides Rush has coined a term for the female counterpart of a chauvinist.  (As descriptive as the word femiNazi is, I don't know whether it's quite what I'm looking for!)  Lo and behold, no new word is needed!  The word "chauvinist" isn't specific to males!  Merriam-Webster defines it as "an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex."  Well, then.  The following announcement perfectly illustrates female chauvinism. 
      Chauvinism, like racism, is a two-way street.  While the stereotypical examples of each are men against women and whites against blacks, there's many variants. 
      What surprises me most in this article is the assumption that everything's a power struggle.  Woah!  What a way to live!  I wonder if female chauvinists realize that female chauvinism exists, or they view someone applying the word "chauvinist" to a female is like a salaried trying to use a tool in a union-based plant!  Based on an extremely limited body of correspondence, this "expert" has decided that "it can be argued that diet sweet's history is as much about masculinity through scientific expertise as it is about a rising feminine imperative to be thin."
      Hmmm... am I really to believe that it's only in the period from 1955 to 1980 that females have been trying to be thin?  Has this woman forgotten that we have some record of  what happened before the 20th century?
      I should stop now, but the phrase "masculinity through scientific enterprise" is beguiling.  What in the world does this mean?  That men have historically tried to prove their masculinity by inventing things?  (So when Edison's lightbulb lit up, he said, echoing Pinocchio, "I'm a REAL man!" ?)  What in the world?  Tell me, please, that no one believes this.  Does anyone supposedly search for "femininity through scientific enterprise"?  Would this be a problem?
      This announcement raises more questions than it answers.

Saccharin: Gender and Power in the Making and Marketing of Artificial Sweetener

Carolyn de la Peña, Director of the Humanities Institute, University of California, Davis

Thursday, September 10, 2009
4:00 PM
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum
600 S. Gregory, Urbana

This talk explores the ways in which gender and power influenced the making and marketing of cyclamates and saccharin between 1945 and 1980 in the United States. Using archival documents spanning the twenty-year relationship between a canning chemist at the fruit canning cooperative California Canners and Growers and sales agents at Abbott laboratories, it can be argued that diet sweet's history is as much about masculinity through scientific expertise as it is about a rising feminine imperative to be thin.  Between 1955 and the early 1980s, women entrepreneurs and mass marketing entered the artificial sweetener industry.  These women bridged invention and consumer, using their unique status as "experts" and females to help a generation of women understand artificially sweetened drinks and desserts as the best way to simultaneously lose weight and gain power.

For the men and women who developed these low calorie sweet products, self-invention was as important as product invention in shaping their definition of success. De la Peña discusses the ramifications this had for the development of artificial sweeteners, the impact this may have had on Americans' attitudes towards food consumption, and the lessons we might take away about considering production and consumption together in both food and technology studies.

Cosponsored by:
Center for Advanced Study
College of Engineering
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of History
Program in Science and Technology Studies

All CAS events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mighty Mites

     A vast percentage of the students here came from small, liberal arts colleges.  Somehow, knowing that makes you feel a common bond, even if your undergrads are very different.  Some of the students I've met have even more in common: they, too, attended a small, Christian primarily undergraduate institution (PUI).
     I just met three Christian analytical chemistry students.  One of them is from Wheaton (check out their list of recent undergraduate chemistry researchers).  There's also a Pensacola grad starting in our Ph.D. program this fall.  She graduated with two other chemistry majors.  For the first time, our graduating class of five seemed large by comparison!
     I wonder if they ever feel like I did!  During orientation I simply basked in the wonder of sitting in a room with 76 other incoming chemistry majors!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Of course, you can avoid the craziness of web searches (where the potential for evil and good are both so high!).  Cut to hte chase and let CMDA search for Christian dentists or physicians in your area.  Take a look at !

Who Knew that Craziness Could Be This Good?

You never know when craziness is going to pay off.  Take this afternoon, for instance.  I started looking for a local dentist this afternoon.  I "should" have just stuck to the dentist somebody recommend to me.  The thing was, the website of the dentist somebody'd recommended to me had a link to an episode of The View where Whoopi Goldberg was talking about taking care of your teeth.  Somehow, I didn't want a dentist who watched/posted episodes of The View.

I did a basic search for "dentist CMDA Champaign," and all sorts of wonderful things started happening.  One of the search results was an article written by a local Christian neurologist who stands against human embryonic stem cell research.

It's amazing to see what God is doing, and the funny ways He helps us find out about it!

Professor against Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I just couldn't resist sending this link!!!

In 2002 Dr. Robert Cranston, Medical Director for Medical Subspecialties, former Head of the Division of Neurology at Carle Clinic Association, and Clinical Assistant Professor at the UIUC-COM, wrote a letter describing why he's against embryonic stem cell research.

Among other things, he says:
"1. Are, or might the embryos, which would necessarily be destroyed in order to obtain stem cells, human?
2. In analyzing the growth and development of the human being from the union of the egg and the sperm to full adulthood, is there ever a specific time when one can say that this creature is not yet a human?

I can think of no such point in the continuum. Embryologists have conceded this for a number of years in major textbooks. When the 46-chromosome creature becomes a self-directing entity, moving forward to a birth-able state, one has a human being."

WOW!  I would love to hear him speak on this topic!
What do you think?

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.