Leave Our Mitochondria Alone!

The very things that run your body may easily become stolen property.

This cunning biotechnology scheme, known as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), currently only legal in the UK, is absolutely out of bounds. Even though you’re not messing with the “majority” (nuclear) DNA, genes are genes, and this mitochondrial “minority” DNA needs to stay put.

These genes are, of course, designed to make cell energy possible. (A brief reminder from HS biology: mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, and supply energy to the cells using oxygen and nutrients, which is the very reason we eat and breathe.) And what good is a organism without energy anyway?

Indeed, when mitochondrial DNA is mutated, can lead to such ailments as blindness and seizures. But putting a foreign mitochondrion into a cell, whether it is truly genetically engineering or not, is still playing God, like much of biology is now.

Details can be found in the above article, and I have some supplemental info from my own keen understanding of Biology! Between the head of the sperm and its tail, there is a middle axis of mitochondria. However, the nucleus is contained strictly in the head of the sperm cell. (I read this in McGraw-Hill’s Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, an excellent work on STEM topics.) The female egg cell is a more typically structured cell, so it is more likely to pass its mitochondria to the next generation. But even if the offspring is disabled due to a faulty mitochondrial genome, it is God’s will.

Let’s eliminate eugenics!

Jigsaw Geography

Jigsaw Geography
In December 2017, I completed an old puzzle obtained from a thrift store, mapping things out, literally.

Geography is hard to define accurately yet concisely.  Of course, maps are at its very heart.  But making maps is the business of cartographers.  Likewise geologists, not geographers, study the earth proper, and thus is a whole different domain with its own specialization.  Yet another field, demography, concerns populations and their statistically detailed properties.  For example, this is important for a country’s census.  “Geography” could merely mean how close things are from one another.  However you define it, people at least conceptually know it means.

The puzzle, has some neat odds and ends, perhaps due to its age.  That gets interesting.  This map depicts various defunct state borders (or lack thereof!). Among those are the Soviet Union (USSR), Czechoslovakia, East & West Germany, Yugoslavia, and yes, Korea!  Given that, the undivided Korea attests to this map being designed (but probably not made) before 1950.

Moreover, within continents, it was regionally divided (and beyond).  You can see historical changes in this when compared against maps of older or newer publication.

And, if you know (at least the basics of) geology, throw that info in there.  The Pacific “ring of fire,” along its shores, allows heavy duty mountainous activity, including volcanic forms.  Among these mountain ranges and belts (i.e., compounds of ranges) include the Andes of South America, some smaller ranges in Mexico/Central America, the Rockies of the US and Canada, etc. And their windward slopes, which catch the ocean’s moisture, are far more fertile than the opposite slope, or the leeward.

Farewell VCRs

I’m actually glad VCRs are near extinction. And I share several reasons why.

1). They were bitter enough in their early days.

In 1975, Japanese electronics mogul Sony introduced one of the two major formats of VCRs, known as Betamax or simply “Beta.” The next year, a rival Japanese company, JVC, came out with the VHS format, which had longer tape length but allegedly inferior presentation quality. For over a decade after, these two VCR platforms fought in a “format war!” There were sundry reasons for the defeat of the “better” Beta in the mid to late 80s, but the victorious VHS remained a staple for the rest of the century.

2). They take TV out of the moment.

So, if you owned a VHS (or Beta) unit, you would have your own copy of a show, movie, sports event, etc.

Now, if you watched it, isn’t that enough? You got the plot, so you can simply move on.

For example, I watched every episode of a sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati (which happened to air in the throes of the Format War!). And having experienced the episode, even if memories of it are fading, that’s enough. Using a DVD, I also will treat a similar classic, Welcome Back, Kotter, as a once and done thing.

We can cherish positive memories all we want, but we must also experience the time we are in. God did, after all, give us a memory.

3) Copyright and Piracy

Copyright is the right held by a creator of intellectual property (i.e., his/her works of writing, art, music, etc.) to allow use at his or her discretion. Trademarks are an excellent example, yet they can very easily get in the wrong hands. Remember the last time applying Scotch tape, had a Kodak moment, or ate a Spam sandwich? These are all cliched trademarks, and the third has a second, not so tasty meaning in email inboxes (need I say more?). In parts of the American South, all soft drinks are generically “Cokes.”

Now, when you have a VHS tape that you have recorded off the TV, it is likely that, say, a thrift store, will deny sale of such. Televised sports events will sprinkle warnings against recording the event, without obtaining consent by the applicable league (and who wants to bother doing that?)

Piracy, or the distribution (typically with profit but not always) of copies of another’s intellectual property, has both moral and legal consequences. Morally, you are breaking the 8th commandment (stealing), because this property isn’t really yours. And while prison and fines for such crimes usually slip by, God put our governments in place and by obeying them, we glorify Him.

All those in favor of putting videotapes behind them, say aye!

Sweden, Think Twice About The Refugees

Sweden is apparently not “Swedish” enough for these Mideastern refugees from Iraq and Syria. While Sweden is known for its peaceful, progressive attitude toward foreigners, they are not assilimilating them as they would. They feel less Swedish than the ethnic Swedes, which makes perfect sense.So maybe Sweden is being counterintuitive. IMHO, these Islamic, Mideastern jihadists are better off uprooting from Sweden and heading either back home or elsewhere in Europe. Because Sweden, like almost all European countries, has a long history of its identity as a ethnic nation, not a “melting pot” like the US. Here in the USA, we lump most European peoples as simply whites.Yet assimilation is inevitable, so it is what it is. (Even if you love the beautiful blonde women of the ethnic Swedish population.). The teachings of genetics tell us that dark dominates fair, though the fair can pop out sometimes in later generations.

But for Americans, this shows a good example of why we emphasize legal immigration procedures.

See why world news matters? in my country of the USA, the news media stresses domestic matters. We need more global awareness. Thank you, BBC!

Mr. Rogers, Neighbor Extraordinaire

Mr. Rogers, while a Presbyterian minister, didn’t discuss religious topics on his show, but he invited kids across the country to be their “neighbor.” Yet if you can subtly observe, Christians like Rogers are actually engaging in Jesus’ Great Commission! Mr. Rogers showed a robust example of kindness and typical Christian love nationwide over the airwaves without descent into proselytism. And this “neighbor” concept may be derived from the very parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus defined as one who shows mercy to another, regardless of religion, etc.A link to some of his best achievements. Rogers ended his show in 2001 and died in 2004.Rest In Peace, neighbor.

Serving My Town with God’s Gift of Food

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  (James 2:26 ESV)
In my town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania (United States), several churches are networked in a “Community Meal” program. One of the sites, First Presbyterian, is sponsored by Kiwanis. Today I shared in the rewarding joy of serving people who may not be looking for anything gourmet, but just nourishing and modestly enjoyable. Among them are some of the poor of Pottstown, and a few of them perhaps homeless. Whatever their socioeconomic status, that would not be that relevant, and indeed none of my business.  My role in the Community Meal is to serve, period.
 
Now on to the nitty-gritty.  I arrived at 3:45 pm, started preparing the meal with fellow Kiwanians in my club, and then by 5pm, the meal started and the guests were welcomed.      We wore red hats with the words “Community Meal.”  The pastor said the grace.  I served an option of a chicken breast or one or two pork chops, placing the pork or chicken on their plate in my jolly and whimsical way (e.g., chicken or pork…okay pork, and a one, and a two…my pleasure, enjoy!).  Or, if they opted for chicken, they may ask for a certain piece, and I am delighted to honor their request.  Neighboring me was one serving vegetables, namely whole potatoes, string beans, and carrots.
When all attendants were served, the volunteers (in this case, me and the other Kiwanians) could finally eat the leftovers.  Since I don’t like bone-in chicken breast, all I ate was white potatoes (mediocre) and bread and butter (much tastier).  Other tasty perks were a piece of cake (the literal dessert food, not the idiom), plus icing from both the chocolate and vanilla cakes. Talk about some sweet rewards!
Kiwanis International is a global civic service club with a special focus on children.  While adults obviously also reap their benefits (and this Community Meal is doubtless one of them), remember, all adults are “ex-children” and what you do for children will impact what their do later in life.
And as a Christian, I believe volunteering is a wonderful way to express love for your neighbor.

An Ill-Engineered Alarm Clock Feature

My alarm clock, just several years old, has a seemingly nifty feature that actually backfires.

This feature is essentially a projector of the time against a ceiling, to be used typically at night.  Imagine, time on your ceiling!

But, not so fast.  The projected time, by our perception it becomes blurred when viewed in the very milieu that it was made for:  a nighttime room!

So, what’s the secret?  Central vision works best in sufficiently bright light, due to its domination of cones.  On the other hand, vision in the dark is run by rod cells, which dwell outside that central region of the retina. So the point of the projected image your eyes are focused on is actually fuzzy.  Moreover, since only cones can process light info that contains color, they are disadvantaged in a dark room as such.  Of course, the alarm clock proper does not bear this difference, for this display, by its nature is its own light source.  And now that I have advised you of this sly feature, I hope you can get a better understanding of this.  (They probably should have consulted a neuroscientist, neurologist or ophthalmologist for better insight.  LOL)

And for the stargazers among you, this is true for dim stars, which can only be seen at a  directly adjacent point.

Alarm Projector
While there is apparently no difference in visibility in a camera, when your eyes actually this very image, you may have to “zig-zag” your gaze to get the time, or just use the commonsense method, look at the clock itself!

As a man blessed as a articulate writer and knowledge liaison, again and again you can count on me for making the arcane, technical world of science (and other topics) yours, especially after further schooling (and perhaps personal study of these secular topics).  And this may be a good time to focus my blog as I follow my Lord and Savior Jesus.

I must mention a key Scripture passage: the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, that whatever you’ve been given, you should appreciate, and indeed build upon that.  The word “talent” in that time, which was a very large monetary unit, has been adopted into English as what it means now:  a natural skill, honed by practice!  So don’t take your talents lightly.  The parable, as usual, is what Jesus spoke to the disciples.

So be a wise consumer.  Pray for what you need.  And remember, even the finest things earth has to offer is not even near perfect.

Highlights & Resolutions for 2018

2017 was great (at least personally, maybe not nationally, LOL) so let’s propose some ways 2018 can be just as great.

1. Pleasure Reading

I loved reading material that the general public could care less about. This primarily included college textbooks, especially on science, which I have always vacillated on their worth. And most of their material tends to bear little relevance to life, unless if I work in that field after college. Basically, texts tend to choke. I’m better off reading popular books, googling the information I need (or want), which is different from a textbook (which potentially gives you a know-it-all attitude toward a whole branch of knowledge, which also varies what book is used, as those on the market differ. Again, the professor decides the text to be used.)

Reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, and for whatever audience, takes much discipline to finish by the book. I think this whole textbook craze is just a yearning to spoil my degree amidst many challenges. It is definitely worth the wait.

It’s a myth that I don’t like fiction. The truth is if I was willing to start a novel, I might get distracted, since there’s so many choices out there. And I’m not anti- nonfiction either. I love to learn, always have and always will. But, when I’m trying to get facts, the popular press suffices, whether printed or online.

2. My third (and final) community college before transfer to a university.

My first two courses at this place, Montgomery County Community College, shall be political science and a speech course. As for future courses hopefully by a university, I’ll just leave that to God for now. Suffice it to say I’ll be busier anyway, and as a perfect segue to the first note, as a student, I’ll be in a place to use textbooks!

3. Thrift & Generosity

There are many ways to be thrifty. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Find the best vaue of a product (which might not be the cheapest, but will hold you over for some time. See what you have before you buy more. And of course, learn from past shopping woes to avoid “buyer’s remorse.” I despise mentioning this a third time, but college texts are a prime example.

Despite popular opinion, thrift does not preclude generosity and giving, once your standard expenditures are taken care of. Luke 21:1-4 discusses the poor widow that gave all her money. While this is extreme, what is important to understand that it is proportional. Furthermore, better budgeting will allow for many purchases, be they donations or anything that (typically unwittingly) could lead to giving.

At the same time, helping can hurt. In many cases, charity can lead to dependency, entering a vicious cycle will demand more supply of giving. (Pardon the economic pun). On the other hand, we don’t want a whole bunch of “Scrooges” not spending anything beyond core needs.

Conclusion

As I leave my 20s this year, we thank the Lord that we have gotten a bunch of blessings in 2017. Pray that 2018 I will get even better wisdom from God’s Word

Why Faith Goes Beyond Mere Reason

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  – Matt. 6:34 ESV

I spent some of last night’s wee hours struggling with such cares concerning what are the best subjects (if any) to learn.  Since my chief interests are in the sciences, but include many other areas as well, I thought, concerning the ideas of practicality and usefulness of such knowledge, could be totally beyond use.

But as I have observed many times in the past, much of my knowledge will pay good dividends.  For example, why does bird excrement contain white and dark portions?  (Urinary products, primarily uric acid, are excreted in a combination with the actual feces.) Or, speaking of white and dark, the “white” breasts and the other, “dark” poultry portions (i.e., drum, thigh, and wing) represent differing rates of metabolism in the muscles (which, basically, is the meat before slaughter).

Physics is the reason why a Volvo commercial is false if it was to stop suddenly in the face of an obstacle.  Good for the rescued kid crossing the streets, bad for the driver with her inertia paced on her by a sudden stop.  And another ill-advised product I actually own:  an alarm clock that projects on the ceiling in the dark.  But here’s the catch:  in dark enough conditions, the center of the retina dominated by cones, will not respond in darkness.  The certain portions of the alarm clock numbers cannot be seen directly, so unless you skim around, you may get the wrong picture.  Likewise, you can’t see a dim star looking directly at it,  but you can when you look next to it.

I could go on and on about these things, but knowledge of any kind is a good investment no matter what it is used for.  After all, may come in handy in various situations.  For example, two botanical words:  “pinnate” and “palmate” refer to leaves concerning the veins of the leaf, compounding (when leaflets, while isolated, are really one subdivided leaf), and even the pattern of lobes on certain leaf margins.  (Thank you, Britannica.  But sorry, I can’t infringe your copyright, so no picture here!) Together with many other traits that are useful for identification, it may led a nice hobby to observe properties of plants.

And reason is a gift from God, despite many secular claims otherwise.  But all these unbelievers:  atheists, agnostics, deists, secular humanists, freethinkers, whatever, consider reason superior to religious doctrine (which is obvious by their disbelief of God).  Reason is good, but if it gets to an excess, it could take it into a powerhouse of planning and worrying about what could happen, rather than trusting a loving God and His providence.

And that was my very antidote, around 2:30 this morning, I put such matters in the hands of God, and immediately saw a better insight of the information.  Now I am much happier, and was asleep just after about 3 AM (and slept till 8 or even 8:30)

So, if you get anxious or frustrated from excessive reasoning, especially when it deals with personal problems (as opposed to appropriate uses of reason, such as asking questions and observing what happens as say, in scientific research or financial planning), turn it to prayer!

Bottom line:  Focus on learning for now, then you’ll have a arsenal of knowledge to use for different needs.  As always, one day at a time!

Putting Technology Where it (Could) Belong

Tonight, I moved the computer to a strategically better place, which happens to be the, yes, dinette set in my apartment!

Bedroom Desk
My bedroom desk, that has now become low-tech.

 

Computer On the DInette
The computer’s home now, where it has been previously placed.

 

Let’s do a “SWOT” analysis:

Strengths:  The computer is now nearby my 1981 print Britannica set (as well as a useful supplement to the modern Britannica internet service) and many other great books.  It also serves as further discipline for the lust issues (sparing the gory details, of course!) which has been, thanks to faith in God, plummeting.  And of course, many other great websites.  My room without the computer allows for quality study without the cares of the internet or other computer applications (the king of them, in my opinion, is most likely Facebook).

Weaknesses:  Many other books are in my own room, so both sites can mutually could be “lending libraries.”  In other words, not only does a book taken from the bedroom need to be returned, but a material taken to the bedroom must also be returned.

Opportunities:  Move as many books as possible from my room to this “information station,” as well as obtaining more bookcases as appropriate.  This allows one library per my apartment.  When I want to get down and dirty with such a reading or study, I shall take it to my room until I’m finished, and thus return them to the (single) home library.Threats:  While there is no loan period (after all, it’s not a true lending library, it’s hyperbole), they should be put back when I am done using them.   The key enemy here is laziness, an trait that makes the autism spectrum a liability.  Also, I put so much debt (not in money, but progress) toward books when the earlier portions are attacked by others.  Therefore, willpower aided by God and His Word will get me success.

Interestingly enough, this SWOT analysis was done after the move.  I must be a good strategic planner already!  Yet, a SWOT analysis is a very helpful tool!

Cheers!