Dream of the Dragon

Month: May, 2010

New Genesis

by Justin

Mankind may now be capable of executing the greatest and most miraculous act of divinity: creation. From chemical scratch a couple scientists managed to cross the Frankenstein threshold. Maybe. I slipped rapidly from mindblown elation into a sort of cynicism about just how devastating this news is. I’m not a frontlines reporter, so all I can do is read the work of the professionals and then form opinions. Often I rely upon journalists to articulate my own opinions and do the distillation work for me. What does one do, then, when the Atlantic, Guardian, and the Economist frame this revelation so differently? I stumbled upon this first in the Economist:

Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, the two American biologists who unravelled the first DNA sequence of a living organism (a bacterium) in 1995, have made a bacterium that has an artificial genome—creating a living creature with no ancestor. Read the rest of this entry »

Time to grow up.

by Justin

Anyone hoping the recent tidal wave of bad press and flagrantly sinful abuse within the Catholic Church might dismount the Pope from his high horse is, unfortunately, wrong. Condemnation still rests comfortably on the tip of his holy tongue.

I’ve kept my distance writing about the revelation of scandal in Europe that runs deep enough to warrant the resignation of Bishops. Our man Benedict XVI, in his less holy days, has even been implicated for turning a blind eye and by negligence being complicit in several specific cases. Specifically in a German archdiocese with a younger Benedict as its Archbishop (read about that wonder here and here among other places). This is all obviously terrible. The abuse of a priest, of a trusted representative of congregation member’s god, is about as egregious as it gets. It’s a spectacular betrayal of trust. A violation of “God’s law” and plain ol’ secular law. Also, really disgusting. The caliber of this crime can’t be overstated, I don’t think. But it’s pretty well covered territory and I don’t have anything to contribute to the discourse.

Except that I hoped this was an opportunity for an extremely influential and archaic institution to grow up a little.  Read the rest of this entry »

What To Do About Symbols That Are Not Okay

by lbej

Every time I drive to pick up my kids from school in the afternoon I pass by this one particular house that is taking an interesting approach to life in the United States.  Not the house itself, probably, but the residents.  This house is so notable because it is very well-kept and socioeconomically congruous except for one thing: it has a flagpole of the sort you see at post offices and schools on which is hoisted, always and only, the battle flag of the Confederacy.  This is very striking and, in my opinion, not okay.  I want to ask the residents of this otherwise unassuming house what they are trying to say.  Perhaps they would say something like “Southern heritage” or “states’ rights,” but the incontrovertible historical meaning of that flag is a call to take up arms against the United States.  Also virulent racism, but treason first and foremost. Read the rest of this entry »