Thursday, October 26, 2006

Michael J Fox Ad

I've always had a secret affinity for Michael. We're about the same age, approximately the same build and he's always played characters I could relate to. I was more than a little surprised and saddened when I found he's got Parkinson's, then a few years later was more than surprised when it became a possible diagnosis for me.

He's running an ad in Missouri on an issue he backs, stem cell research, to which I say, "good for him". The question in the media is, was he off his meds when he did it?

The answer is: absolutely not. This is what you look like when the treatment for Parkinson's is successful. When it's not, you look much, much worse. Depending on how far down the path he is, he might not be able to move or speak at all if he were off his meds.

Take a good look, this is the difference between a treatment and a cure. Just like diabetes, just like Alzheimer’s, just like MS (but unlike ALS where there isn't even a treatment), it's a long term, disabling disease, and the treatments are quite crude.

Will stem cells cure him? No. Will they help? No. Do we know that they will ever work? No. Stem cells might be a dead end, like so many other kinds of scientific research. Still, it's the best we have at the moment.

Do I think he should have made the commercial? Sure, why not? It's a cause he believes in, presented in an honest way. Let the marketplace decide.

And, btw, I think the whole "meds" question is a red herring. The presumption is that if he were "on meds" he'd look just fine and that if he were off he'd be somehow "faking". This is the Fallacy of False Choice. Off meds he looks bad, on meds he looks bad differently, either way there is no deception here, just his choice of how to appear.

E.T., Where are You?

There is an interesting debate over at PZ Myers site on the development of extraterrestrial intelligence. It's quite illuminating in a lot of ways, but I was struck by this insight:

What Percentage of Planets on Which Life Has Originated Will Produce Intelligent Life?

Physicists, on the whole, will give a different answer to this question than biologists. Physicists still tend to think more deterministically than biologists. They tend to say, if life has originated somewhere, it will also develop intelligence in due time. The biologist, on the other hand, is impressed by the improbability of such a development.

Personally, I remain optimistic about the chances of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, especially in light of progress in the last century on gravity. I would like to believe (but cannot objectively prove) that we're only a few decades away from a theory of inertial mass. Should such a formalism arise, we'd be well placed to build vehicles capable of interstellar flight.

However, this is an article of faith, not one of reason. The full critique is interesting and, although I can pick apart some of it, I reach a similar conclusion when I rebuild the argument with my corrections: i.e. intelligent, space-faring civilizations may not overlap in terms of space and time. The galaxy may only hold one or two at a time, separated by vast stretches of astronomical time. A million years is nothing in terms of astronomy, yet I can't imagine what future, if any, the human race has in that timeframe.

They may be out there, and they may be far more advanced than us, but if so, I can’t imagine them wanting to talk.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chuck Norris isn't as dumb as a Brick, He's as Dumb as ALL the Bricks in Boston!

Appearently, Chuck doesn't get it:

"While I have as much fun as anyone else reading and quoting them, let’s face it, most “Chuck Norris Facts” describe someone with supernatural, superhuman powers. They’re describing a superman character. And in the history of this planet, there has only been one real Superman. It’s not me."

Sadly, he’s not talking about Superman. Though I suppose he could be, since the rest of this article is how he believes in magic because he saw it in a book somewhere. Just not a comic book. Though it might have had illustrations.

Chuck Norris Facts


Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Grammar Humor

As longtime readers know, I have a soft spot for grammar humor. This made me laugh.

A Lower Limit, to be Sure
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?