Month Archives: August 2009

When Zombies Attack

by David Prentice

August 17, 2009

Night_of_the_Living_DeadWho says science doesn’t provide relevant information for the public?

Canadian scientists have published an analysis on whether humans could survive an outbreak of zombies. The mathematical models indicate that, even with options for cures and quarantine, humanity doesn’t have a good chance against zombies. As the authors note in their paper, “We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.”

Yes, there is a practical side to this mathematical exercise—modeling spread of infectious disease. The article is part of a book titled “Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress” from Nova Publishers. But as the authors note in an interview, “Modelling zombies would be the same as modelling swine flu, with some differences for sure, but it is much more interesting to read.”

Given the results of the analysis, it might be a good idea to get a copy of “The Zombie Survival Guide“.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

August 14, 2009

Here’s some news articles of particular interest.

  • According to the New York Times, former President Bill Clinton defends end-of-life counseling that is included in the health care reform plan.
  • Steven Ertelt of has a great article about a CDC study that shows teen abortion rates are lower in states that accept abstinence funding.
  • Cleveland is becoming a leader in adult stem cell research. Continue reading the article from The Plain Dealer.
  • David French of Phi Beta Cons reported Tuesday that the EEOC went after Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina for refusing to cover oral contraceptives in its employer provided health insurance.
  • Prisoners in the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Virginia will now be allowed to receive religious mail, after the ACLU sent a letter to officials demanding that these letters containing biblical passages be distributed, as The Christian Post reports.

Lawlessness California-style: Ahnuld and Moonbeam Take a Pass on Defending Prop 8

by Chris Gacek

August 13, 2009

This from an Associated Press story about California’s defense of Prop 8:

The governor and attorney general, who are supposed to defend state laws, submitted separate but similar filings Friday saying they would leave it to the conservative legal group the Alliance Defense Fund to take the lead in defending Californias gay marriage ban.

How completely revolting. The people of the State of California pass an amendment to the State Constitution that is upheld by the State Supreme Court and neither the attorney general nor the governor will defend the amendment.

The governor and the attorney general should be impeached — or recalled. Whether you love or loathe Proposition 8, it should be clear that executive branch of the California should defend the State’s constitution in court. To refuse to do so constitutes complete lawlessness.

Perhaps, some legislator can attempt to appropriate funds for Alliance Defend Fund’s legal efforts. It only seems fair that ADF should be reimbursed for doing the government’s work.

Furthermroe, the governor and attorney general should save everyone some time and let the State know which laws they find it PC to defend. This might be a useful flash page to set up on the AG’s website.

Holy Smokes!

by Michael Leaser

August 11, 2009

In the latest Mapping America, the General Social Surveys show that adults who frequently attended religious services as adolescents are less likely to smoke than those who did not.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

August 11, 2009

After a long hiatus, the Daily Buzz is back. Here are some news articles that I found particularly interesting today.

  • The Obama Administration has been fairly silent about the provisions for abortion in the health care bill. The Baptist Press has a great article about the Administration’s silence on the provisions.
  • Kansas is back in the news again. This time, The Wichita Eagle reports that the Governor and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has stripped funding from a program that gives state money to groups who provide alternatives to abortion.
  • This morning, I came across an interesting article by Eric Gorski of the Associated Press that discussed the conflict of young Evangelical Christians torn between premarital sex and waiting for marriage. Continue reading…
  • The controversial health care bill that will be debated in Congress will provide doctors incentive to push euthanasia. Read more about this on
  • The Christian Post reports that homeschoolers are scoring well above those attending public schools in reading, math, social studies, and language.
  • If you haven’t already done so, read Nonie Darwish’s article in FrontPage Magazine about Islam.

Change Watch: Eric Lander, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

by David Prentice

August 7, 2009


APPOINTEE: Eric S. Lander

BIRTH DATE: February 3, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York


A.B. in Mathematics, Princeton University, 1978

D.Phil. in Mathematics, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University, 1981

FAMILY: Wife-Lori Weiner; three children-Jessica, Daniel, David



1993-present Professor of Biology, MIT

Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School

2003 Founding Director, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

1990 Director, Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research

1986, 1989 Fellow, Member, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA

1984,1989 Visiting Scientist, Associate Professor, Dept of Biology, MIT

1987-1990 Associate Professor of Managerial Economics, Harvard Business School

1981-1986 Assistant Professor of Managerial Economics, Harvard Business School

Member, National Academy of Sciences

Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Member, Institute of Medicine


Leonard Zon, a Harvard stem cell scientist who knows Lander and Varmus and has followed Holdrens career, said the three men are likely to recommend more federal support for embryonic stem cell research, and budget increases for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. agency that backs the bulk of basic science conducted at academic institutions.

I know theyre very enthusiastic about stem cell biology, Zon said.


Among Participants and Attendees at President Barack Obamas Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum


Young scientists, who might have been hesitant to enter the promising field, no longer need to worry about funding, said Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and cochairman of a presidential scientific advisory council.

I think it sends an extraordinary message to young scientists today - that this nation will back them,” he said from Washington, where he attended Obama’s signing and speech.


Lander is a renowned stem-cell researcher at MIT, a world-class university that stands to get even more federal funding, thanks to Obama’s stem-cell move. An MIT spokeswoman says the university takes conflict-of-interest precautions when its faculty serve in government positions - but added that it won’t recuse itself from funding opportunities related to Obama’s decision.



Eric Lander, a leading figure at the HGP and a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the United States, said human cloning is “impossible” and “absolutely wrong.”

He said scientists cannot produce human beings, nor should they try to change human beings. He added that HGP is designed to understand the human genome, not to change it.

Many scientists warn of horrific consequences if anyone tries to apply the techniques used to create ‘Dolly’ the sheep for producing cloned people.

Cloning involves enormous risks and is inefficient. There are many other natural ways of helping infertile women give birth. Mankind does not need to clone itself, Lander said.



Look, there are a small number of things that are destiny. A small number of genetic certainties where you can say the baby, God forbid is, gonna have some terrible disease that we can’t do anything about. But most of the genetic information that’s encoded in the human DNA is not about certainty.

It’s about the fact that perhaps when she grows up she’ll have twice the risk of diabetes. That’s not good but it’s not a disaster. I think, as a parent, that you have to add this long list of maybe’s that genetics is gonna potentially give you to a much longer list of worries that every parent has had since there were parents.


Genomic science is dramatically widening the scope for understanding cancers, but breakthrough cures should be expected within generations, not years, says Eric Lander, one of the leading scientists in this field.



Modern biology is undergoing a revolution that will fundamentally leave our understanding of life so changed that we won’t be able to remember how we used to think about life before that point.”


The Charge Up Sagamore Hill

by Robert Morrison

August 7, 2009

TR at Sagamore Hill

I had to go, said former President Theodore Roosevelt of the expedition that nearly killed him, it was my last chance to be a boy. Roosevelt had charged up Brazils River of Doubt with the same verve and bullish enthusiasm he tackled everything else in his life. He was the one, after all, who preached to his fellow Americans from his bully pulpit. He preached to them of a strenuous life, rejecting the path of ignoble ease.

I certainly could not claim my friends and I would be facing anything like the headhunting tribesmen T.R. faced up the Amazon, or man-eating piranhas. But we would be facing another dangerous breedNew York drivers. Yes, I told my incredulous wife, were going to go to Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelts family home. And were going to do 500 miles in one day.

Sagamore Hill was built by young Theodore Roosevelt for his lovely young wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. Tragedy struck, however, and T.R.s bride was taken from him shortly after delivering their child. The date was February 14, 1884. On that same day in that same New York City brownstone, T.R.s beloved mother died. Valentines Day was never celebrated again in the Roosevelt home. Construction would proceed slowly on the Oyster Bay home. It had to be renamed, of course. Leeholm became Sagamore Hill, in honor of the Indian chieftains who met in council there.

Stricken by grief, T.R. would soon light out for the territories. In the Badlands of the Dakota Territory, he built his body even as he restored his spirit. Nearly three years after that double tragedy, the young New York State Assemblyman re-married. Edith Kermit Carow had been T.R.s childhood friend. Now, she would be the mistress of his house and the steady sheet anchor of his life. It would be Edith who kept the family books. T.R. would go out each day with two dollars in his pocketand return each night empty-handed.

The national historical site at Oyster Bay, New York, is a monument to a man and a marriage. It is a family seat. Theodore Roosevelts home dates from 1886. Virtually every item in this late-Victorian mansion remains as it was when the old Lion died there January 6, 1919.

To step into that darkened hallway is to enter another world. You have to wait in the entry hall until your eyes adjust to the darkness. Like so many other period mansions. Sagamore Hill is surrounded by shade trees and awnings, and the home is darkened further by the rich oak paneling in the entry hall.

You can barely move without danger of being impaled. Your guides must carefully maneuver your group. It seems every tusk, every tooth, every horn, every antler, and every foot from every beast T.R. ever shot is assembled in that hall to welcome you. You quickly learn that carnivorestimber wolves, lions, tigers, cougars and bearsare stuffed and mounted with their mouths open, their fierce fangs exposed. Ruminantsbuffalo, moose, elk, deer, antelope, and even the most dangerous Cape Buffaloare grass-chewers and their less impressive teeth are usually hidden.

Edith Roosevelt drew a line with Theodore. She liked to say it was hard work managing her seven childrenthe six younger ones and her ever-boyish husband. She would not allow her dining room to be filled with mounted heads. There is one moose head in there, but Edith told quizzical friends to note its placementbehind her chair where she would not have to look at it.

Sagamore Hill was not just a lively family homefilled with trophies and booksbut the nations Summer White House. In fact, before 1902, the U.S. did not have a Summer White House. Because Roosevelts aides needed to be in touch with Washington and the world, and because anarchist assassination plots still threatened, the Secret Service insisted on installing a telephone. No longer would it suffice for Oyster Bays pharmacist to mount his bicycle and pedal out to the Roosevelt home with telephone messages for T.R. Grudgingly, T.R. agreed to the new-fangled contraption, but insisted that it would be yanked when his term ended in 1909. When it ended, however, T.R. had to manage something more dangerous than a herd of Cape Buffalofive teenagers.

Sagamore Hill was where the Roosevelt children could run and jump and yell to their hearts content. They included innumerable cousins and local children in their rough play.

When one of New Yorks elite, a dowager from the Four Hundred, asked one of the Roosevelt boys how he got along with the common boys of Oyster Bay, the younger child answered: Fathers says there are only four kinds of boys, good boys and bad boys, tall boys and short boys. Despite his own aristocratic Dutch patroon heritage, that lad was raised to believe in Americas fundamental creed.

Once, when the President was meeting on Cuban matters, a small boy opened the library door and announced it was past four oclock. Quickly, T.R. wrapped up his business and hurried out, explaining to his puzzled guest: I promised the boys Id go shooting with them at four oclock and I never keep the boys waiting.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first national leader to express concern about marriage rates, divorce rates, and birth rates. He understood better than many of todays politicians that the nations health is measured by such numbers.

Always a teacher, Roosevelt wrote: The tasks connected with the home are the fundamental tasks of humanity. When home ties are loosened, when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed, and all its

responsibilities lived up to, as the best life worth living, then evil days for the [nation] are at hand.

Evil days are here. We can only imagine what T.R. would say of a forty-percent out-of-wedlock birthrate or 1,200,000 abortions a year. Of one thing we can be sure: He would not dismiss such things as a mere distraction.

At Sagamore Hill, you can see the evidences of Theodore Roosevelts passionate, engaged life. There, we find Japanese Samurai warriors in glass cases, his cavalry saber balanced along the antlers of an elk, an elephants tusks supporting the dinner gong, and the presidential flag bearing 45 stars. Youll see a library of 6,000 volumes and learn that the King of Norway thought T.R. knew more of his nations history than most Norwegians did.

Despite his strenuous lifeor perhaps because of itTheodore Roosevelt was a passionate family man and a powerful defender of family life.

There are many kinds of success worth having, he wrote, It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or railroad man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor. Then he turnedas he inevitably didpersonal: …Or a writer, or a President, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of achievement lose their importance by comparison.

Has anyone ever said it better? Bully!

Robert Morrison, a Senior Fellow at Family Research Council, wishes to thank his friend Bill Mattox for the T.R. quotes used in this post.

Video: The White House Gone Fishin’

by Tony Perkins

August 6, 2009

(Transcript after the jump)

The White House apparently subscribes to Vince Lombardi’s idea that the best defense is a good offense. The widespread opposition to the Presidents proposed takeover of health care has apparently blind sided the administration and is causing panic over the prospects the whole plan could be sacked by the American public.

As a result the White House is striking back. Macon Phillips on the White House blog wrote, “Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet.” he goes on to say that “since we cant keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help.” Phillips goes on to ask individuals to send the White House any email or health care message on the web that seems fishy.

Fishy? If there is anything fishy it is the White House wanting people to help them keep track of those who oppose the government takeover of health care. Is the White House is simply wanting to keep a scrapbook of the emails that primarily quote the President and the legislation that he is pushing, or is it possible they are simply looking to use this information to intimidate and if possible silence their opponents?

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