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November 18, 2005

Sentences You Won’t See Very Often on Making Light
Posted by Patrick at 10:56 AM * 45 comments

Charles Krauthammer rocks the house.

Comments on Sentences You Won't See Very Often on Making Light:
#1 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:04 AM:

Huh. Didn't see that one coming. It is a fine little spt in the eye, though.

#2 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:15 AM:

"... the kangaroo looked the bartender in the eye and said, 'With these prices, you won't see many more, either!'"

#3 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:36 AM:

I can't find the link, but apparently the Corner is already consigning him to if not the outer darkness then at least a somewhat smaler table close to the kitchens.

#4 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:37 AM:

I'm very glad to see the meme that ID is theology being promulgated.

"ID isn't science" is often a hard sell because it certainly looks to the outsider vaguely like science, or at least an academic activity. Saying "ID is theology, and therefore not science", though, is a much easier sell since then people do not have to make the distinction between academic-sounding gibberish and scholarship.

So. "ID is theology" - pass it on.

(Now, I personally happen to think that standard ID is flat, uninteresting, and uninspired theology, but that's for a different day - the Multiple Designers Theory variation on ID is much more interesting theology.)

#5 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:42 AM:

Somewhere in hell, they're building a small ice skating rink. Great piece.

#6 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:44 AM:

Saw it this morning while perusing the WaPost online and was cheered. I rather like CK, though not all or even most of his positions. But he's witty and tough and he called the Harriet Mier's withdrawal on the nose.

#7 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:02 PM:

The line "I think I'm gonna make me a lemur today" deserves immortality. MST3K fans, join in on the "Joey the Lemur" song!

#8 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:31 PM:

The animated monkey in the mortgage add to the left of the piece seems to agree with Patrick's assessment.

#9 ::: aboulic ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 12:44 PM:

Oh, I didn't get to see the animated monkey. All I see is a dutch bus driver promoting Shell's (the oil company) attempts to promote itself as a provider of environmental friendly fuels.

Maybe that looks like an animated monkey in a different light?

Hmm, I think it's a bit of a wasted oppertunity to talk about scientists with strong religious beliefs and not mention Faraday.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:01 PM:

Remeber the Far Side joke? It showed a typical Far Side kid, nerdy, fat, with glasses. He obviously had been trying something with his chemistry set, with his face blackened, stuff fluttering around him. The caption was priceless:

"God as a kid tries to make a chicken."

#11 ::: AnimeJune ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:05 PM:

Wow. Well put. I don't see why some fundamentalists refuse to believe in evolution - it's such a well-thought out system, why couldn't they credit it to God?
I liked the "Daily Show" bit where one of the anchors compared the city where the Scopes trial took place to Colonial Williamsburg - because it hadn't changed at all. ^_^

#12 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:13 PM:

Madeleine, there's always been an ice-skating rink in Hell. It's made of frozen mercury, and public relations flacks are stuck to it by their tongues.

#13 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:40 PM:

Whoa. I am rocked to my foundations. Are there no certainties in life, then?

#14 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 01:46 PM:

*was going to cut-and-paste the lemur line if no one else did...awesome!*

I remember that Far Side. In the anniversary book, Larson put it in the controversial section, explaining that while he didn't actually get much flak from that particular strip, most people seeing it (correctly) as a bit of random silliness, he had a vague fear that a bolt of lightning would come down and make him strongly resemble that kid.

Speculation about what would happen if that came out today? (How did I get the idea in school that society's thought and understanding of the world was progressing?)

#15 ::: J. Cheney ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:14 PM:

A nice piece by Krauthammer!

Being a religious person, I find it distressing that Science teachers are being asked to teach ID in the Science classroom. It is, indeed, not science, and therefore, not their purview.

At the very closest to empiricism, it's Statistics, but numbers so inestimable that they cannot be appraoched with the comprehension levels we have. It would be futile to try to calculate them.

ID is theology...I cannot blame Dover for removing it from the science classroom at all!

#16 ::: D Agnew ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 03:47 PM:

Of course (?) he gets his facts wrong. Newton was Anglican only because he never admitted to denying the Trinity (not suprising, this was explictly denounced by the Toleration Act of 1689.

#17 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 04:11 PM:

Heh. That Far Side reference and exhaustion finally brought a thought to my forebrain from the lizard bit:

I've heard it said that every meme in SF was begun or codified by Robert Heinlen (not that I believe it; I think he missed one or two :-) -- but he certainly nailed ID: The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 05:29 PM:

Brooke, your comment about God and The Far Side was a trick question, heh?

#19 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 07:09 PM:

Though he is a conservative, Krauthammer is no fool. He is also far from the only conservative who derides ID. John Derbyshire of the previously mentioned Corner is another, and indeed he and Krauthammer may end up sharing that table near the kitchen, as some of the other denizens find his rationality on this issue annoying.

#20 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2005, 11:18 PM:

Anent my earlier, found what I’d had in mind: it was George Will they were throwing under the bus.

But it might be worth noting that the congressmen most likely to have supported the Medicaid restraint Will wanted were social conservatives. The Republican congressmen who would most heartily agree with Will about evolution, Terri Schiavo, etc., are the ones who would most likely disagree with him about Medicaid.
#21 ::: Alex Merz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 01:03 AM:

Daniel Martin: "I'm very glad to see the meme that ID is theology being promulgated."

That may be a meme, but that ID is theology is also a fact.

#22 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 03:37 AM:

Scholarshin is orthogonal to the distinction between Science and Theology. But mostly we hear about the cold fusion, homeopathy, and phlogiston of theological discourse.

#23 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 12:57 PM:

I think Krauthammer misses the point of what's going on, though. To the people who care about this, the fact that there is some religion, or even many, compatible with evolution is irrelevant, because theirs isn't, and that's what they're committed to.

#24 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2005, 02:15 PM:

ID? What's wrong with industrial design?

Oh.

Nev-ver mind.


The straight neo-cons are splitting off from the religious right. This is hopeful in some ways, but there are going to be a lot of dissappointed and angry people on both sides, and I don't think they're going to suddenly espouse liberalism.

#25 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 06:36 AM:

Um, I have a bit of a beef with the editorial - he references Albert Einstein as "religious," yet the only real details he gives in the article are about Newton. I have heard many people say that Einstein is religious, yet I have seen quotes from him that seem to suggest he was agnostic or atheist, though certainly full of that sense of wonder that makes everyone sound like Rumi whether they believe in God or not. So if Krauthammer was going to bring him up, he should have given some specifics because I am not convinced that he even belongs in the "believes in God" category.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 08:45 AM:

Well, Einstein did make that comment against quantum physics that God doesn't play dice. I think he was what's called a deist, which I understand to mean that, to him, there was this Creator who set things in motion and walked away, seldom if ever to interfere in human affairs.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 08:51 AM:

Woodward's source is...

#28 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 04:08 PM:

Einstein said, among many other things,

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.
-- Albert Einstein, 1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press

This, I'd say, refutes anyone who claims he was conventionally Christian.

(There's a good list of such quotes here: .)

#29 ::: shane ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 05:38 PM:

DonBoy, I disagree. Krauthammer is closer to the mark.

1) The people pushing ID aren't doing it on the basis of their own personal faith, that would be no problem. We're fine with discussions like "My belief requires my child not eat/learn/wear x". Instead, these people are pushing ID (or claim to be doing it) for the God Every Red-Blooded Right-Thinking American believes in. And who[m?] the Godless Scientists hate.

2) This has convinced many people that Evolution/Science isn't compatible with *any* religion, and that 'fighting evolution' is a Good Work. Folk are surprised to find it doesn't contradict religions in general and their faith in particular. (see Francisco Ayala to his Catholic students).

#30 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2005, 05:55 PM:

Gamers and economists (and I suppose other groups as well each in their own ingroup sense) say God's Algorithm without an implication of religious or spiritual or personal philosophy.

Besides everybody knows Ghod does indeed play dice with the universe but He loaded the dice - (cf Feynman)

Obs SF Pacifism/Einstein The Number of the Beast

#31 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 12:40 AM:

May I repeat something I said a month or two ago? It's relevant again here.

Seems funny to me that these neocons who don't believe in teaching evolution and Darwin in science classes all seem to believe firmly in "neosocial darwinism: the survival of only the richest".

#32 ::: Arete ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 07:52 AM:

Einstein was definitely not conventionally Christian - he was Jewish.

#33 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 08:32 AM:

But, Arete, even as a Jew, did he follow the conventional faith? I think he was a deist if he believed in any god at all.

#34 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2005, 09:40 AM:

Einstein did not believe in a personal God or follow any conventional faith. See here for a whole barrel of quotes from the man himself on the subject, in particular this one, where he discusses his ideas about religion and his Jewishness.

#35 ::: Scott Harris ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 12:36 PM:

I suppose there *could* be some variation of ID that wasn't theology. For example someone could claim to find a code in 'junk' DNA that is equivalent to a trademark or even a mathematical primer, and hypothesize that this was left by an alien race rather than a supernatural Creator. However, the point is moot given who is actually trying to push ID into the schools.

#36 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 01:33 PM:

I suppose there *could* be some variation of ID that wasn't theology. For example someone could claim to find a code in 'junk' DNA that is equivalent to a trademark or even a mathematical primer, and hypothesize that this was left by an alien race rather than a supernatural Creator. However, the point is moot given who is actually trying to push ID into the schools.

Sagan - Contact - message embedded in the digits of Pi - perhaps any sufficiently advanced technology may be indistinguishable from deity with a small d.

#37 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2005, 01:57 PM:

The bacteria that make the insulin for Mike Ford's cyborg pancreas plugin are -- along with a whole lot else -- entirely unambiguous examples of intelligent design.

It is merely one of the many reasons the attempt to make the "Intelligent Design" label run cover for young-earth creationism is so deeply stupid, because all the actual examples come down to hey, we do that!

#38 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2005, 11:48 AM:

sharing that table near the kitchen

I've annoyed a few waiters in my time by gushing "Oh! I just *love* sitting next to the kitchen. I get to sample the smells of all the stuff you guys make! And my food comes out so warm and fresh!" That and the waitstaff all comes out the kitchen door, which means your waitperson can't avoid you by dodging around the other way.

I thought the concept of Intelligent Design was great when I first heard of it. I've always believed in God-the-Creator, whether He created things several billion years ago and then sat back to watch the Artwork, or whether He created it several thousand years ago and made it *look* like He created it several billion years ago. As far as my appreciation of the Artwork, time of creation is irrelevant.

Then I realized the goons were pushing it as science. Say what? I'm a science geek (ultimately headed for that PhD in Chem) and that ain't science. Science is taking things apart and going "WOW! Looky this, Mabel!" and then putting it back together in new and different ways. Hopefully, without the earth-shattering kaboom. And doing it again, and again and again.

To me, science is a way of appreciating the great Artwork. Theology is a way of appreciating the Creator of the great Artwork. They are indeed related, but one should not be mistaken for the other.

#39 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2005, 01:41 AM:

"The bacteria that make the insulin for Mike Ford's cyborg pancreas plugin are -- along with a whole lot else -- entirely unambiguous examples of intelligent design."

Maybe they're evolved symbiotes.

#40 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2005, 02:19 AM:

The bacteria that make the insulin for Mike Ford's cyborg pancreas

Actually, they make pretty much all of it now. Animal insulin certainly worked, but some people had immune problems (there were also suggestions that a couple of major long-term complications might be related), and the supply was ultimately limited by the number of animals available. Recombinant human insulin doesn't have any of those problems. I gather that Lilly still makes a small amount of porcine insulin, but beef has been phased out worldwide.

And the bugs used are everybody's postprandial pals E. Coli, which helps make up for the mischief they cause in the food supply.

A story I was working on once had gadgets called Serofacs, which were mobile laboratories about the size of a small truck containing growth chambers and extraction/refining equipment for recombinant biopharmaceuticals. They were "programmed" with a cassette containing the live organisms. Plug the cassette in, provide clean water, power, and a supply of growth medium, and drugs came out the valve. The unit would have to be fully flushed between uses, of course, but a small recirculator could keep the cassette "alive" pretty much forever with proper care, and in the post-kaboom world of the story, cassettes were a highly valuable commodity.

Now, of course, people would tend to think of them as Mobile Bioweapons Facilities, but I take no responsibility for that.

#41 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2005, 03:31 AM:

When the BSE scare started in the UK, the "Mad Cow Disease" associated with prion molecules which survive even cooking, I know there was great relief that animal-source insulin had been supplanted.

Fortunately, the more lunatic fringe of the press, cheerfully predicting mass brain degeneration, never seemed to notice that prion molecules are found in all life.

Including yeasts...

Anyway, there have been CJD cases (the human equivalent) linked to medical use of human growth hormone, extracted from cadavers. Another source replaced by engineered bacteria.

Why people get all crazy over bioengineered plants, and cheerfully ignore these other genetic modifications, I'm not wholly sure. Maybe they don't know. Maybe they assume, not wholly without reason, that the medical uses are thoroughly tested and controlled. But, as they scream and rave about herbicide tolerant plants, it's all too obvious that they know little of farming.

Thats a quite plausible version of the nanotech universal factory, though I'm sure that keeping the system in working order is thoroughly non-trivial, even in a pre-kaboom world. And one reason why a cassette is valuable is that the non-biological element is hard to replace. If you're running the production, the bacteria are fissioning with gay abandon, and you could load hundreds of new cassettes.

Biological Rights Management? Does a Sony cassette pre-load the Serofac with slow-release antibiotic micro-capsules which their bacteria tolerate, and which bond irreversibly to the pipework so they can't be flushed out?

#42 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2005, 09:50 AM:

Does a Sony cassette pre-load the Serofac with slow-release antibiotic micro-capsules which their bacteria tolerate, and which bond irreversibly to the pipework so they can't be flushed out?

BZZZ! Gibson reference!


"Pity," Case said. "I was enjoying that addiction."
"That's good, because you have a new one," Armitage said. "There are microcapsules bonded to the inside of your arteries. Tiny capsules, slowly dissolving. You are familiar with the effects of their contents, I think; you encountered the same toxin in Shanghai."
Case stared at him.
"If you complete this contract, I will supply you with the enzyme which will debond the capsules. You'll need a complete blood change, but otherwise you'll be fine. If not, the capsule walls will dissolve in thirty days..."

(Quoted from memory so may be a little wobbly)

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All too often, spam.

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#43 is past its sell-by date.

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