60 rants


To get my blogging up to a more regular schedule and also give you something to read that everyone could relate to, I decided to start regular commenting on the latest in 60 minutes

Stem Cells


I must say that I have not been following the stem cell research closely enough in last couple of years and I am very amazed that we can now actually tell a stem cell to develop into a particular type of cell. The sight of a bunch of cells grown into a slab of heart tissue was especially fascinating.

First of all there are at least two problems that I see with the research as it was shown in the program: they are not using cells from the patient, they are simply injecting the cells "in the general direction of the problem".

The first is probably a problem caused by politics - in a perfect world we would take a cell sample from a patient, take nuclei of those cell, put them in place of the nuclei of the stem cells and we would basically have cloned stem cells of the same patient that we plan to be treating. There would be no problem with nonacceptance of donor organs or confusion of living with another persons DNA inside your cells. Politics block those developments.

The second problem is mostly the simple immaturity of the field of research and microsurgery in general - it is still very hard for us to grow a full slab of heart and surgically replace damaged tissue with it. There are pros and cons to that approach too. Injections do have lower level of post operational risks in the area of effect - there are no tissue scars to worry about. However, having heart tissue flowing in the blood stream does seem quite risky in that it could have unforeseen consequences in other parts of the body. For better or worse.

However, even taking in consideration all that problems (that the scientists of the field) surely do know about very well, it is just plain ridiculously stupid how much the religious right in general and that incompetent president of theirs is grinding all the research to a halt. And do not tell me about that last weeks of him touring bio-diesel facilities, I will come to that too. In short - go California, but I would rather see Bush just getting his marbles together and banning stem cell research in USA altogether, so that all those scientists can come to us, to EU and other places with more reasonable legal systems, because otherwise it seems that they are just asking for trouble there. Trouble that will slow the research to half of its possible speed for next 10 years or so.

Port security


I can only say one thing about security and USA - 90% of the USA security forces only work to ensure that people feel secured: that they see the police, that they are searched regularly enough, that they are stopped from time to time to answer some questions, that they are being "protected" on the Internet (read: being spied upon), that they are feeling harassed enough to feel safe. If the regular people are harassed enough they will never forget that the police is there and they will assume that the real criminals get harassed even more. That instills both content and fear: content for being protected and fear because there is clearly something to be protected from. After four and a half years of this treatment people are becoming very cattle-like, i.e. easy to govern.

And in the same time the real experts can easily see that for real terrorists all those protection measures are completely irrelevant - real terrorists do not try to hijack planes with matches or nail clippers. Real terrorists have people inside, good supplies of profession equipment and have all the information that your government will not tell you "for security reasons". Cocaine is being smuggled into USA by tons. If put a nuke or two into that stream with enough "green" wrapping, no one will notice anything. Anyone having enough resources to buy a suitcase nuke will have enough resources to get it into USA even if you implement the strictest police state measures the likes of which have not been seen before. Even if you mandate all citizens to implant RFID chips that could be used to track their location from satellite and shoot on (satellite) sight anyone without such chip, there will still be ways to nuke any place in USA if there were any motivation. Clearly there is none.

This again show that only thing that are considered "ok to be debated upon" are being raised in USA nowadays - there has been more debate about that duck hunt incident then about millions of Americans being spied on by their own government. That says much about any country.

I want to bring just one quote from this segment - "It is impossible to do proper inspections of everything without basically stopping all international commerce".

Montana coal diesel


The idea of making diesel from coal is new to me, but it really is just an old, forgotten technology put into action by Nazi Germany at one point.

The idea is a nice plan in the local perspective (cheap gas, lots of jobs, ...) but from a global perspective that is a very dangerous idea. Anything that prolongs the inevitable transition to pure hydrogen economy is. I think that only thing that has a big future is pure electric power with storage in some kind of metallic hydride. You see, I am worried about global warming quite a lot. And burning any kind of fossil fuel bring carbon that has been laying in the ground for millions of years and throw it back into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO 2). That both speeds up global warming and reduces the amount of oxygen that we have left for breathing. Does look bleak in the long term perspective, doesn't it?

Yes, digging up coal in your backyard is better then fighting wars halfway across the globe for oil, but not too much.


This week Andy was talking about dog shows. Not for me that kind of thing - I like cats much more. And not those lazy show cats, I like simple cats that must rely on their smart to survive (at least be calling their owner to feed them when they are hungry :)).

So here we have the end of my first coverage of 60 minutes. Lets hope that it is not the last and lets also hope that you foud at least something here to be of a value to you.

As always, feel free to comment on what could be done to improve all this.

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