I’m Confused

OK, for years, people who claim to be my intellectual betters on foreign policy (and pretty much everything else), and particularly about the Middle East, have been telling me that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is the “occupation” of disputed territories in the West Bank and Gaza, and that we won’t be able to make any progress without solving that issue. It is what motivates Arab anger, and animates their protests.

Well, surely if this is the case, with all of the apparent anger and ongoing revolt in Cairo, we should be seeing many reports on the ground of protesters with angry signs against the Zionist entity, right? Or have I just missed them somehow?

Faster, Please

Researchers at Scripps have converted skin cells directly to heart muscle:

“This work represents a new paradigm in stem cell reprogramming,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Sheng Ding, Ph.D., who led the study. “We hope it helps overcome major safety and other technical hurdles currently associated with some types of stem cell therapies.”

I found this an interesting (and flawed) analogy, though:

“In 11 days, we went from skin cells to beating heart cells in a dish,” said Ding. “It was phenomenal to see.”

Ding points out the protocol is fundamentally different from what has been done by other scientists in the past and notes that giving the cells a different kind of signal could turn them into brain cells or pancreatic cells.

“It is like launching a rocket,” he said. “Until now, people thought you needed to first land the rocket on the moon and then from there you could go to other planets. But here we show that just after the launch you can redirect the rocket to another planet without having to first go to the moon. This is a totally new paradigm.”

Actually, I don’t know anyone who thought that except for people who were promulgating a straw-man argument against the Vision for Space Exploration. For instance, some claimed that Bush’s plan was foolish because it proposed “building a Kennedy Space Center on the moon.” But the plan was never to land on the moon, and then depart from there for other planets. It was to utilize the resources of the moon to provide propellants and other consumables to interplanetary ships already in orbit, and save the expense of launching them all from earth. It may well be that this is equally economically impractical in the near term, but it’s not what the critics (and the Scripps researcher) seem to think it is.

By the way, the article says that these researchers are scientists, but I think they’re engineers. Or perhaps some blend of both.

The Wrong Solution

We might be able to save the planet via artificial meat, but for some reason…

In a typical Malthusian-panic green response, one group recommends going vegan to save the planet. But Dr. Mironov has another approach: grow the stuff in labs without all the methane. I have no idea whether this will work at all or whether the meat produced that way will taste more like Kobe beef than like the anonymous gray ‘mystery meat’ they used to feed us when I was a promising young sprout back in pundit school. But if Dr. Mironov is even partly right, the dynamics of the world’s food supply, energy use and atmospheric composition are very, very different from what the greens say.

You would think that smart greens genuinely interested in saving the planet would be all over Dr. Mironov’s work like white on rice. You would think that the vast and well organized enviro-agricultural lobbies like the ones that brought us ethanol and the enviro-industrial lobbies like the ones bringing us bad electric cars and expensively subsidized alternative energy sources would be pumping billions or at least hundreds of millions into a relatively simple scientific concept that, if successful, would make the world cleaner while dramatically raising the living standards of much of the world’s population by making a high protein diet more accessible and sustainable.

It’s almost as though they had a different agenda than the one they claim.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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