Hello. This is why.
Hello. This is why.
Most of my Monday Quotes so far have come from scientists or philosophers of science. Today’s comes from William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (1961-1994), an American comedian and musician who died of pancreatic cancer at the young age of 32. There’s a lot of talk going around the social networking sites today about pro-lifers because yet another has threatened to murder someone. Murderously violent pro-lifers often remind me of Bill because of some of his stand-up sets.
“Pro-lifers murdering doctors. Pro-lifers murdering people. It’s irony on a base level.”
“Boy, I’ve never seen an issue so divisive, its like a civil war ain’t it? Even amongst my friends, who are all very intelligent. They are totally divided on abortion. It’s unbelievable. Some of my friends, for instance, think these pro-life people are annoying idiots. Other friends think these pro-life people are evil fucks. How are we going to come to a consensus? You ought to hear the arguments around my house: they’re annoying, they’re idiots, they’re evil, they’re fucks! Brothers, sisters, come together. Cant we for once just join hands and think of them as evil annoying idiot fucks?”
So I thought today I’d just share another memorable quote from Bill about pro-lifers since that seems to be the hot topic today. And of course as a little tribute to someone who is still greatly missed.
“We’re pro life.”
What does that make me? You know what I’m saying? If you’re so pro-life do me a fucking favour. Don’t block med clinics, OK? Lock arms… and block cemeteries. Let’s see how fucking committed you are to this premise.
“She can’t come in.”
“She was 96, she was hit by a bus.”
“Have we got to have her stuffed? What are you talking about? She’s dead!”
“We’re pro-life, get her out of that casket! She’s not going, we’re pro-life people. There will be no death on this planet.”
Pro-life. Here’s my actual theory, beyond the huge, hilarious jokes I have… Here’s my real theory though… If you’re so pro-life and you’re so pro-child, then adopt one that’s already here, that’s very unwanted and very alone, who needs someone to take care of it, to get it out of a horrible situation. And people say, “well then why don’t you do that?” and I say “because I hate fucking kids and couldn’t care less”. Couldn’t give a fuck. Don’t care at all about abortion. It’s your choice, case closed, the end, bottom line.
– Bill Hicks, comedian, satirist, and musician.
This is a big pet peeve. Let’s get straight to business: the terms “homeobox” and “Hox” are not interchangeable. They do mean different things. I’m correct in saying that Amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum) has 15 Hox genes. I’m also correct in pointing out that it has over 130 homeobox genes.
Gene names can be very confusing and difficult to remember, so there are many abbreviations in biology. For example, the gene insulin-like growth factor 1 is abbreviated to Igf1. Does that make it easier to remember? Who knows. But I believe the use of abbreviations is partly responsible for the incredible confusion over homeobox and Hox genes. And I do mean incredible. It’s very obviously a confusing topic for students, or anyone new to evo-devo, developmental genetics, or gene regulation… but it’s so much worse than that. Professional publications make the mistake, academics make the mistake, and they do it often. I think the reason it keeps happening is that the word “Hox” appears to be a shortened “Homeobox”. All over the internet you will see the terms used interchangeably, and sometimes with the apparently shortened version in brackets. “Homeobox (Hox)”. This otherwise decent glossary for Epigenesys manages to dump the terms homeotic, homeobox, and Hox into one single paragraph and glossary entry, which is of little help to a confused student seeking clarity. So let’s clear this up, and I’ll keep it quick. Continue reading The difference between homeobox and Hox genes
Italian courts have sentenced several scientists and a government official to prison for six years over the L’Aquila earthquake. I don’t intend to dwell on the story, because it has already been covered very well by others. People are discussing what happened, whether these scientists should be jailed or not, and even what they’re actually being accused of. Are they being punished for failing to predict an earthquake, or not communicating the risks accurately? These are all important questions. But I want to ask a different question. If scientists fail to predict an event, or make a prediction that fails to come true, they can apparently be held accountable. Why is this not the case for charlatans and bullshit-merchants throughout the world selling bogus “cures” or predicting natural disasters? This blog entry is a trip down memory lane to 2009 for a story about superstition, censorship, psychics, and earthquakes. Continue reading Predicting earthquakes
The immaterial soul. How much does it weigh? Well, nothing if it’s immaterial. If something has mass, can it be defined as immaterial? Maybe not by someone reasoning normally. In
far too many a few debates with theists I’ve had to listen to absurdly contradictory claims that scientists have confirmed and proven the existence of the immaterial soul since the human body weighs less after death. 21 g less to be precise. I am personally not convinced that there is reliable evidence of a soul, let alone that it has a quantifiable weight. But this is a belief held by many, and a “fact” that is occasionally brought up in discussions I have with theists. Continue reading The 21g soul: do our bodies become lighter after death?