Aug 30, 2010

it's a catch CO2, or release CO2, situation

I'm quite looking forward to being able to drive and owning a car; maybe in a few weeks, all going well. Cars create CO2. CO2 is bad. That's a problem. Maybe I just need to plant more trees (like, at least one) - but trees cost money and money doesn't grow on trees (not that I have any trees anyway). The alternative of non-independence isn't too appealing however.

I figure I'll make up for it later. The same logic which can justify a host of evils. But I NEED this, right?

Aug 29, 2010

Christians are so ... urgh.

The Onion makes me cry. Or cringe, in any case. Come on everyone; cringe with me!,926/

this one's interesting too:,17954/ particularly this salient point: "the reality is most of the smart, qualified people in this country are wasting away in assistant professorships at struggling public universities or making millions of dollars in some venture capital group. In fact, that's exactly the kind of job I would have right now if I were a real person. Which I'm not."

Don't be offended, but

(in other words, get ready to cry);

In letting this blog run downhill, at least in title choice, I was just trying to communicate at your level,

or the level of the hypothetical "you" who reads this blog.

I've decided, after relative failure in that regard and now that I almost have a break from uni and some time to think, that I'll forget about targeting this blog to the audience I know it gets atm and just write stuff that I care about. If you don't like it, the internet is a free country. As it were.

Aug 26, 2010

True humour

From an absolute master (Plantinga) comes this review of science and religion in the standard free philosophical reference, the SEP. You may not laugh much, but it is brilliant, in an appropriately subtle way. There is a reason why this man has, arguably, nigh on single-handedly (with the help of some of his cronies and students) transformed the landscape of analytical philosophy of religion in recent decades.

Here's a taste:

For example, suppose I tell you that I saw you at the mall yesterday afternoon. Then with respect to part of your total evidence base—a part that includes your knowledge that I told you I saw you there, together with your knowledge that I have decent vision and am ordinarily reliable, and the like—the right thing to think is that you were at the mall. Nevertheless, we may suppose, you know perfectly well that you weren't there; you remember that you were home all afternoon thinking about methodological naturalism. Here the right thing to think from the perspective of a proper part of your evidence base is that you were at the mall; but this does not give you a defeater for your belief that you were not there. Another example: we can imagine a renegade group of whimsical physicists proposing to reconstruct physics, refusing to use memory beliefs, or if that is too fantastic, memories of anything more than 1 minute ago. Perhaps something could be done along these lines, but it would be a poor, paltry, truncated, trifling thing. And now suppose that the best theory, from this limited evidence base, is inconsistent with general relativity. Should that give pause to the more traditional physicists who employ what they know by way of memory as well as what the renegade physicists use? I should think not. This truncated physics could hardly call into question physics of the fuller variety, and the fact that from a proper part of the scientific evidence base, something inconsistent with general relativity is the best theory—that fact would hardly give more traditional physicists a defeater for general relativity.

Similarly for the case under question. The traditional Christian thinks she knows by faith that Jesus was divine and that he rose from the dead. But then she need not be moved by the fact that these propositions are not especially probable on the evidence base to which HBC [Historical Biblical Criticism - ME] limits itself—i.e., one constrained by MN [Methodological Naturalism - ME] and therefore one that deletes any knowledge or belief dependent upon faith. The findings of HBC, if findings they are, need not give her a defeater for those of her beliefs with which they are incompatible. The point is not that HBC, evolutionary psychology and other scientific theorizing couldn't in principle produce defeaters for Christian belief; the point is only that its coming up with theories incompatible with Christian belief doesn't automatically produce such a defeater.

Plantinga, Alvin, "Religion and Science", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

bloody haemoglobin!

Eating my breakfast, trying to focus on an upcoming biochemistry test (largely on oxygen-transporting metalloproteins) this (the title) was all I could think for a few seconds - quite depressing; then I realised the irony.

EDIT(2) - lol - 'irony', gettit??.. heme, iron - wow.

As for the 'Root Effect'; ah .. well, you can perhaps guess my thoughts around that one.

EDIT: after a few mins of study, I am more fond of haemoglobin. It is, like much of biochem, so freakin' clever. Whoever made this stuff, I take my hat off to you. As one of my first year lecturers said, (something like) "God is a very subtle biochemist - that's worth thinking about." Two negative allosteric effectors (which reduce oxygen binding, i.e. make haemoglobin give up the O2 it is holding) are carbon dioxide (indirectly, through reactions producing H+ and the Cl- shuttled into red blood cells, to replace hydrogencarbonate, by a Cl- transporter) and higher temperature. It just so happens that both of these conditions are found in exercising muscle, thus facilitating the exchange of O2 for CO2 here and keeping you folks alive. We see here a tight, tight relationship between the structure of the haemoglobin protein tetramer, its function (influenced in the 'right direction' by various different molecules/conditions) and its environment - but at the whole organism level of oxygen transport as well as at the molecular. E.g (as above): the temperature increase in skeletal muscle cells which is a side-effect of respiration also happens to affect the haemoglobin protein in the right way for it to function well when it reaches these cells.

More along vaguely similar lines, particularly on the relations between CO2 and HCO3- (as I recall) here:

Aug 20, 2010

good times on wikipedia

"Swallows are excellent fliers, and use these skills to attract a mate, feed and to sometimes carry coconuts."
Or, I am guessing, all three at once!

But, holey maccaroni, I've got to get me a swallow and test this statement.

Aug 18, 2010

the writing is on the plant cell wall

Recently I have perhaps been too callose with myself and others.

I shall cease and desist and instead spend more time working on my puns.

EDIT: it just turns out my lab report due date got extended. Yayness! Now I can celebrate by thinking of more puns, or more probably, by actually doing a decent job of this report and writing an essay on dualism. Yep, dualism.

Incidentally, the title comes from the original 'Writing on the Wall' in Daniel Chapt 6.

This isn't exactly plant or wall related, but if you're reading this you can't have anything too urgent happening: it has struck me recently that in the grand scheme of thrill seeking, danger-finding and ueber-gambling, the board game grandiosely called 'Risk', for all the potential upset when Papua New Guinea invades Western Australia (or such), doesn't really feature. It's a bit like calling your child "King Alfonso III" when you know, given your lifestyle, he's most probably gonna spend the rest of his life selling, using -or a combination of both options- various chemical substances in dark metropolitan alleyways in order to survive and get some enjoyment from life. It's a little unwarranted, but perhaps its inconsistency somehow excuses it.

Aug 17, 2010

does that make me a stranger?

This blog has got more strange recently, I admit.

I blame the current testing environment.

And science - it does weird stuff to you.

Aug 16, 2010

my best friend's the curator of the universe

This title was so good I decided this post should have some content;
to accompany. So:
A little nonsense verse, written from the back of a hearse
well not really - perhaps a horse, though not that either:
(I'll sort out the metre some other time and place;
I'll be sure as sure to change the pace, just a little later.)

So, I've been thinking
about this world, sinking
into mud of our own creation
The weevil, the beagle, the eagle and the ant
all wait in eager anticipation
of their approaching emancipation

You might find that in Galatians
But for surety you'll have to check.
(Above I'd like to add in the tui and the beaver
but they just don't fit.)

The sun shines blue
and the sea waves cheerily
and I'll take this mostly as true
cos if it ain't then we do verily
have a bit of a problem here.
Note that I don't want to scare you.

The tui warbles, as is quite normal -
but I'd rather not take it all for granted.

Aug 15, 2010

Rhamnogalacturonan II

No, it's not a planet in Star-Trek. (Well, it might be - it's been quite a while since I've indulged-in / stooped-to old sci-fi.) Instead, it's one of the most complex molecules in the biosphere. It's a plant polysaccharide domain, a sub-category of the pectic polysaccharides.

I'll post more on this molecule once I've gone and studied about it. It's got something to do with cross-linking other sugars and borate esters. Bioinorganic chemistry is, from my limited knowledge, quite fantabulous.

If this doesn't fascinate you, you either need to get your brain checked or to stop reading this blog. Now. (If you want.)

Nocturnal Omissions

Decided I should try and stay honest to the banner for once.. Kind of.

I have some interesting stories about uni at night, but I'll keep it P.G. and share this one I've adapted somewhat:

Around 10 o’clock on a Thursday evening, a dude (you can call him Joe if you want) was walking alone, hoping to get from uni to the Sky Tower to catch his bus home, taking a short cut through Albert Park. On the way some guys on drugs of some kind or other jumped out of the bushes from behind, and attacked him; his branded clothing. leather wallet and cellphone were taken (yep, his cellphone - these people had no mercy) and he was left moaning on the ground slightly regretting his travel decision. Note that this story goes downhill before getting better.

Soon someone came past – the Vice President (VP for short) of the Conservative Christian Club on his way home after a late outreach meeting. He, the VP, wanted to get home in time to read the Bible, as was his custom - and realised that if he stopped for the dude, he’d be later than would be usual for the VP, so he (the VP) prayed for him silently and passed by.

But not to worry, it seems the prayer was answered quickly; for someone else approached from the other direction. She was another religious leader (surprisingly common at uni), this time President of the Bible Study Union, popping into uni for a late prayer meeting and some community-building time. Being quite conscious of personal safety and cleanliness and already late for the important meeting, she hurried by with her coffee, while of course praying for the dude’s health and safety (she intended to work for OSH after graduating).

Next, however, a drunken Engineering student came tipsily near, after leaving a crowd of his rowdy mates, recently having topped up their alcohol levels at Shadz, as was their custom. (Note to the particularly slow or non-NZ reader - this probably isn't going to go too well - we all know about Engineering Students!) He saw the dude, now semi-conscious and no longer moaning, laughed a little and got down on his knees on the gravel, dealt to the dude’s bleeding leg, worked out what had happened to the dude and informed the Police, then sorted and paid for a taxi home for him.

Who acted like a good neighbour for Joe?

Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

Aug 9, 2010

do you mind?!

Since I'm looking into the phil of mind, I'll share this fascinating contribution. Enjoy.

My Philosophical Beginning:A Completely Fictional Account
As it happened, I started out as a Cartesian. And I didn't even know it. Here is what happened. Before I had ever heard of philosophy, I was an art student in a small college called the "California Institution for the Artists and Others" (CIAO). The atmosphere at CIAO was bright, energetic, uplifting, and Mediterranean. Naturally we were never short of olive oil. CIAO offered an unusual, strange, bizarre, and unexpected major; world-renowned curriculum in Food Art. Being dazzled by the unusual, strange, bizarre, and unexpected, I promptly signed up for it. One day the instructor gave us a challenging assignment. We were to create an aesthetically assertive model of a body part using edible stuff. I could readily think of several body parts suitable to be modeled by fruits and vegetables. But I had to be above the ordinary and the mundane. I had to transcend the level of simplistic thinking that would have had me make tibiae out of celery stalks or fingers out of ladyfingers. I rejected every idea that occurred to me within the first hour of receiving the assignment. I had to refuse to listen to the societal authorities. I had to reject all conventions. I had to dig down deep to the very foundations of imagination and aesthetic assertiveness. I seated myself quietly in front of a fireplace. Staring at the fire, I concentrated. I wanted my project to be so strong that its impact was inescapably real, not only formally but objectively. I struggled for hours. Then suddenly, an idea presented itself, clearly. I would create a model of a retina. Next I had to choose the edible stuff to use. Again I concentrated in front of the fire. More hours passed. Then suddenly, an idea came to me, distinctly. I would use a sweet potato. Once I had decided on all aspects of the project, I wasted no time. After six days of intense work, during which I especially struggled to achieve a delicate balance between the rods and the cones, I was ready to put the final touch on my creation. I went to an open studio to choose a special dye. I saw my instructor behind a large table. On the table was a series of ten bowls containing ten varieties of ink. I examined them all very carefully before deciding on the third bowl from the end. I held high in my hand my sculpture of a retina made out of a sweet potato. I wanted my instructor to know which dye out of those ten I needed and for what use. I pointed to the bowl I had picked and said:"Eighth Ink, There, For Eye Yam."

H/T: shamelessly stolen from Takashi Yagisawa:

Aug 8, 2010

Scary little fulla

I'm not too sure if this is a fulla or a fullarette, but either way it's pretty cool imho.
Does anyone else think 'Asgard' when they see this?

don't steal this thought - or link back if you do

This is my considered opinion on the probable recipe for a recent movie:

3/7 ['The Matrix'] + 2/7 ['Oceans 11'] + 1/7 ['Avatar'] + 1/7 ['Titanic'] = ['Inception']

By considered opinion, I mean in this case that it popped into my head (I won't go into the possible details of how it got there) and after a few seconds' thought I see no reason, such as a scary woman with a knife, to deny its veracity.

Aug 7, 2010

webcomik or death

Absolutely splitting my sides with cyanide and happiness - humour FTW!

This one's a bit more serious tho.

(I don't want to kill your fun, but I immediately thought of abortion when I saw it.)

resounding truth

A love poem for you, my dear audience.
(The poem's for you, the love is for freedom.)

Hear that sound?
It's the pounding of chairs
at the end of the day,
cheering my soul and clearing the way
- to freedom.
Do not ever; I say never,
stop them or hold them back!
Let their sound resound, let it be clear,
throughout the years
of all our pointless tertiary education;
let us hear in this sound
the possibility of recreation
which we lack now.

Aug 6, 2010

some tips for n00bs

heya guys; here's some tips, some general advice - for the most part they're pretty basic - collected from experience over the past week and one a little earlier:

If you're a Muslim:

*Don't come up to me with "two questions" and procede to tell me repeatedly how basically everyone's converting to Islam.
*Don't expect me to be impressed by a handful of movie stars (who you can't name) converting to Islam.
*Don't even expect me to be impressed by many nameless scientists converting. I've seen these lists on Muslim sites. They tend in my experience to be of quotes saying something nice about Islam / the Qu'ran rather than actual convertees, but more relevantly why should I care if some scientists who have (e.g.) attended Muslim conferences in Saudi Arabia (perhaps some of you can see the $ubtext here) have converted? Can't you just give me a decent line of reasoning please?
*Don't expect me to be impressed when the only "Christian scholar" who's converted that you can name is a former (minor) American preacher I happen to already know something about because he's all over Islamic TV etc. Apparently there are lots of them, but only poor Muslims convert to Christianity - oh, don't expect me to buy that either. (When I name a genuine Islamic scholar who converted and claim there are a few Imam-types who have, of course it's ignored. Stating the fact that people living in poor Muslim countries who convert tend not to get the claimed "benefits" prompted the general spiel on how most Muslims aren't really Muslim or something like that. Doesn't stop you saying how many Muslims there are though..)
*Don't tell me that Mohammed was (like Jesus) sinless (this is perhaps more controversial, I admit)
*Don't tell me the Qu'ran has no contradictions but the Bible has many and then deny any knowledge of the Islamic doctrine of abrogation. Maybe you know nothing about it, but in that case why are you coming up to argue with me and assuring me that I know nothing about Islam?

*Do: read the New Testament.

If you're an atheist:

*Don't claim that any mention of Jesus in Josephus was invented by Christians.
*Don't assume that Jesus was crucified in 0 AD (that was probs just a slip).
*Don't imply that the only people who matter in/to Christianity are men.
*Don't confuse Tacitus with Suetonius.
*Don't assert in front of 400 people that Jesus never existed and the Christians burned books (presumably in reference to the secular myths around the library of Alexandria)
*Don't tell me that the Anthropic Principle explains the facts I've listed as being best explained by their theistic consilience (order/coherency of universe, rational beings, moral facts, consciousness & free will)
*Don't assume that science - and therefore finding the truth about things - is all about falsifiability
*Do: read the New Testament.

Otherwise, I will be sad.

Aug 5, 2010

books and laughter - a winning combo

There is presumably some way to embed this. I shall continue to presume this but not act on the presumption as it is fairly content-less.


don't deny your destiny

From the website of Destiny Church; I found this perhaps a little ironic:

"A carnal church cannot give birth to spiritual things"

Here's another gem, this time in promotion of Bishop Brian's autobiographical book:

"Never before have the forces of religious, political and social activism converged more powerfully than in the life of Brian Tamaki"

some people would perhaps make a similar case for a guy called Jesus..

Aug 4, 2010


"Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere." Or maybe I've had enough; took part in a really sad debate. Under-prepared & 4got to imbibe caffeine b4hand. Earnest but not too coherent; Christian-stereotype incarnated. Got slaughtered in th special way skeptics have where doubt/suspicion/worry masquerades as argument & naturalism is assumed cos, hey, we're at a uni. 'Christianity is obviously false, so I'm here to laugh/mock/have-my-beliefs-confirmed(?)' IDK.