Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Safe Schools Czar

Jim Hoft has been documenting the career of Kevin Jennings, President Obama's Safe Schools czar, and has the latest here. In 2000 Mr. Jennings apparently organized and led a conference for teenagers in which almost every imaginable sexual deviancy was promoted to the teens. Among these were ... well, you'll have to read it for yourself if you have the stomach for it.

That the administration would deem this man suitable to put in charge of children shows an appalling lack of judgment. The man is an embarrassment to the President, and the longer he's allowed to hang around the more unavoidable will be the conclusion that the President actually wants him around.

Read the article (or this one) and see if this is the sort of man you want supervising your children's safety.


More Complex Than Expected

Telic Thoughts directs us to an article which reports on a study that assesses how complex the simplest functional cell would have to be. What the researchers found is that the simplest biologically viable cell is still very complex indeed:

What are the bare essentials of life, the indispensable ingredients required to produce a cell that can survive on its own? Can we describe the molecular anatomy of a cell, and understand how an entire organism functions as a system?

...three papers published back-to-back today in Science, provide the first comprehensive picture of a minimal cell, based on an extensive quantitative study of the biology of the bacterium that causes atypical pneumonia, Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The study uncovers fascinating novelties relevant to bacterial biology and shows that even the simplest of cells is more complex than expected.

The rest of the article explains the complexity. The significance of this is that before the mechanisms of evolution could take over and generate, at least theoretically, all of the diversity of living things we see today, blind, purposeless chance still had to produce a structure which was highly integrated and organized and which possessed enormous information content (see video below).

Perhaps a non-biologist, uninitiated in the mysteries of the discipline, might be forgiven for thinking this is all a bit far-fetched. It seems rather like constructing a computer, together with its operating system, by shaking together a random assortment of its parts. It's not as if we see such prodigies happening every day, after all.

The irony is that those who believe that the feat of producing an information-rich, highly organized and functional systems like the one in the video requires the agency of an intentional mind - and who point to the fact that every time we see similar structures manufactured there's always a mind behind it - are nevertheless called superstitious. But those who claim that random chance and physical law can somehow create such a marvel, and have probably done so countless times across the cosmos - even though no one has ever actually observed chance or physical law producing information and no one knows how it could possibly have been accomplished - are said to be enlightened. It's pretty funny.