Tuesday, July 18, 2017



Find A Better Way


Isn't it time to wake up and face reality?
You know, if Americans read more and did their own research rather than listen to the talking head pundits, we wouldn't be discussing fake news. The truth is, the media and government have been lying to us for a long, long time. What are they lying about? I think most of you out there in LaLa Land don't have a clue because you actually believe the lies and it may come as a shock, but your view of reality is distorted because of it. Which is exactly what they want.

Yet, the lies are there and if you begin piecing things together from your own honest research, eventually you will arrive at a place where you've got to make a choice. Either you're going to stop accepting the propaganda and disinformation or you will remain blind. Most people seem to be blind. It's easier to go along in order to get along, right?

Even with all the attention, fake news is still being released in order to influence your thinking. Sometimes fake news is a small thing, like misquoting someone on purpose, but sometimes it's a big thing, like flying planes into buildings or pretending a mass shooting has happened.

Here's something else to consider. If fake news is as pervasive as it seems to be, it indicates embedded, systemic corruption that is linked to powerful industry figures and government. The American public is no longer getting the truth about much of anything. Everything has become politicized. Appearance has overtaken reality.

Operating on half-truths and lies is like building a bridge without supports. We're all going to pay for basing our lives on lies. So, quit watching that crap on television. Find something useful to do. Read a book. Play with the kids. Find a better way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book 2 And Book 3


The Xylanthian Chronicles is a trilogy, so there are three books involved, right? Here are Books 2 and 3:


How much do I need to tell you about a book that says Return To... something? Here is the third book:


The Galactic Center refers to the enormous black hole in the smack-dab middle of the Milky Way. There's a lot going on at The Galactic Center and if you want to know, you'll have to start at the beginning. Read these books before they are banned or outlawed! Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but I do think you'll be entertained.

Change your life -- read good books.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Summer's Best Reading Experience


Hello readers, check out the books advertised in the following posts for what is likely to be this summer's best read. In other words, if you read one thing this summer, it should be The Xylanthian Chronicles. Thanks for tuning in and happy reading!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Over-Criminalization Of American Life



Faster Than Nascar, Faster Than A Speeding Bullet


While the studies on the speed of light have not fully disproven the theory that it is the fastest we can go, there is increasing evidence that it might actually not be accurate. Some point out that dark energy seems to go at a faster rate than ever as time goes on. They also have observed that if the Big Bang theory is correct, the universe expanded way quicker than light speed when the cosmos were in their infancy. Some scientists in carefully controlled experiments have even managed to clock pulses that actually beat out the speed of light. While how or why we may be able to go faster than light speed is not yet certain, it seems that we may not be as limited as we previously thought.

With all that said, we're not ready to go around announcing to family and friends that the absolute speed limit for light is NOT 286,000 miles per second.  Not just yet. It is likely the explanation will not be so simple. Remember, mass is transformed (or broken down) as it approaches the speed of light and so all mass must convert to light waves in order to achieve such speeds.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017



The Illusion of Choice


General Electric, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS own your mind.

It is worth repeating that the bulk of America’s mainline media is owned and controlled by a mere 6 corporations. This means that unless you’re already consciously avoiding these mainline media sources, then most of the news and entertainment that makes it onto your screen and into your mind comes from a small pool of corporate sources, all of which play important roles in delivering propaganda, social programming and perpetual crisis narratives to the public.

The conglomerates are: General Electric, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS.

All are corporations that have their own shady histories, dealings and suspicious actors. Disney being widely regarded as an occult enterprise aimed at warping the minds of children with disturbing subliminal imagery. One of these companies is also the 12th largest US military defense contractor, so it’s no surprise that so much of our entertainment centers around the glorification of war and violence.

By surveying what is available for consumption in the mass media, it is easy to see what type of society these 6 corporations are helping to construct. They have the power to warp reality by calling staged shows ‘reality’ shows. Ideas which don’t support mainstream narratives and the consumer agenda are omitted, and stories about independent people over-coming strife without dependence on government are seldom if ever elevated.

The promotion of shallow, materialistic, ego-centric values, and the obvious dumbing down of the American population is coming from these 6 corporations. Think about that. These are the companies that glorify consumption, obedience, ignorance, the hyper-sexualization of youth, the glorification of war and government surveillance, and so on. The advertisers that support these media companies have tremendous sway over what makes it on the airwaves. They help to control public perception.

The bottom line is that corporate media is a behemoth of special interests and mind controllers. So much of the human story is omitted in this capitalistic, for-profit environment scheme like this, which is why now more than ever the independent, alternative media is such a gem for human kind.

In 1983, the media industry was occupied by some 50 independent media companies.

With such tremendous global reach in all forms of media communication, these corporations help to shape our world by providing coverage of our lives, analyses of our world, entertainment to pass our time and inspire our minds, and even distraction and occupation for our children. How should we react when they lie to us?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Black Strings


One of the longest outstanding mysteries in physics is how gravity is related to the other fundamental forces, such as electromagnetism. One theory, first proposed in 1919, showed that if an extra dimension is added to the universe, gravity still exists in the first four dimensions (three space dimensions and time), but the way this four dimensional space curves over the extra fifth dimension, naturally produces the other fundamental forces. However, we cannot see or detect this fifth dimension, so it was proposed that the extra dimension was curled up, and hence became invisible to us. This theory was what ultimately led to string theory, and is still included at the heart of most string theory analysis.

Since this extra dimension is so small, only tiny objects, such as particles, can move along it. In these cases, they ultimately just end up where they started, since the extra dimension is curled up on itself. However, one object that becomes much more complex in five dimensions is a black hole. When extended to five dimensions, it becomes a “black string,” and unlike a normal 4D black hole, it is unstable (this ignores the fact that 4D black holes eventually evaporate). This black string will destabilize into a whole string of black holes, connected by further black strings, until the black strings are pinched off entirely and leave the set of black holes. These multiple 4D black holes then combine into one larger black hole. The most interesting thing about this is that, using current models, the final black hole is a “naked” singularity. That is, it has no event horizon surrounding it. This violates the Cosmic Censorship Hypothesis, which says that all singularities must be surrounded by an event horizon, in order to avoid the time-travel effects that are believed to happen near a singularity from changing the history of the entire universe, as they can never escape from behind an event horizon.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Protagoras


Man is the measure of all things.

This is the most famous saying of Protagoras, though it is in fact, only the first portion of his statement. The full line runs ‘Man is the measure of all things; of things that are that they are, and of things that are not that they are not.’ Protagoras’ relativism is one of the most extreme ever argued. This means that truth is relative and for each individual truth is different. This can be true with things like temperature – you might find the evening chilly, but for me it is warm. However, we can all agree on the absolute temperature in degrees. Protagoras would disagree and would say that all of our knowledge is sense based and therefore unique to each individual. The problem with relativism is that it makes philosophical discussion impossible; what you think you say and what I hear might be completely different, if we are unable to agree on objective truth.

Protagoras of Abdera was one of several fifth century Greek thinkers (including also Gorgias, Hippias, and Prodicus) collectively known as the Older Sophists, a group of traveling teachers or intellectuals who were experts in rhetoric (the science of oratory) and related subjects. Protagoras is known primarily for three claims (1) that man is the measure of all things (which is often interpreted as a sort of radical relativism) (2) that he could make the "worse (or weaker) argument appear the better (or stronger)" and (3) that one could not tell if the gods existed or not. While some ancient sources claim that these positions led to his having been tried for impiety in Athens and his books burned, these stories may well have been later legends. Protagoras' notion that judgments and knowledge are in some way relative to the person judging or knowing has been very influential, and is still widely discussed in contemporary philosophy. Protagoras’ influence on the history of philosophy has been significant. Historically, it was in response to Protagoras and his fellow sophists that Plato began the search for transcendent forms or knowledge which could somehow anchor moral judgment. Along with the other Older Sophists and Socrates, Protagoras was part of a shift in philosophical focus from the earlier Presocratic tradition of natural philosophy to an interest in human philosophy. He emphasized how human subjectivity determines the way we understand, or even construct, our world, a position which is still an essential part of the modern philosophic tradition.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vegetarian


Indian word for 'lousy hunter'.



Trust In Government?


These days, when I hear a news report about some shooting, I no longer automatically trust the media to give me the truth of the matter. There have been too many questionable incidents that have occurred in the US in regard to gun violence. It has been suggested numerous times that these incidents are arranged by parties with a political ax to grind.

Check out all the liberals surrounding the Sandy Hook incident. Or, any of those other shootings as well. Before the bodies have turned cold, they are all over the media, shouting for more gun control, more government oversight, blah blah blah. Doesn't that seem just a little suspicious to you?

And all those victims. Have you tried to look up and verify that these shooting victims really exist? I have and I cannot trace a single one nor can I find the survivors. They make a statement to the media and then disappear. Would the FBI lie? Would the head of the FBI lie? Of course, James Comey would lie.

Powerful political forces are putting on bogus displays of violence to influence the American voter and stir up emotions. Both political parties do it. Don't believe me? Then do your own research but whatever you do, do not believe the mainstream media on these matters. They are lying to us.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Turn It Off


If you are a regular visitor to the North Texas Drifter, you've likely read that you should stop watching television. You haven't done it yet, have you?

Why? They're not telling you the truth so why do you keep tuning in? As a matter of fact, they're telling you what to think and generally, because you watch television, you don't have a clue as to what is really going on out there. Oh, you may think you've got a handle on the MSM news, but you don't.

Fox News isn't going to save you. Neither is MSNBC. Or CNN. They are all outlets for propaganda and they are all making a fool out of you.

Six corporations worldwide own all the news outlets. How easy it is for them to keep the population in the dark and manipulate knowledge, truth, even their understanding of human nature.

You, that's right, YOU need to quit watching that mind-numbing crap.

Friday, June 9, 2017


"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood." - James Madison

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What A Crock!


Why would US President Trump take the US out of the Paris International Climate Change Agreement?

Because Climate Change (global warming/cooling) is a hoax/strategy perpetrated on the world by our globalist masters, that's why. If you think the climate is changing, then do something about it. Like, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. But leave the rest of us alone!

Climate change! What a crock!

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Racial Slur Database


A handy reference tool to help address those self-righteous liberals who like to point out every instance of perceived racism that marches through a small mind. Go here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


"There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don't expect you to save the world, I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair, and disrespect." - Nikki Giovanni

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Turoe Stone




Once a part of the fairy fort called Rath of Feerwore, Turoe stone was moved in the 1850’s to the village of Ballum in the Galloway county in Ireland. The origin of this stone is still being disputed because some scientists believe that France is the country the stone originates from. Its upper part is decorated in La Tène style. La Tène culture flourished on the European soil during the late Iron Age, and it vanished around 1 AD.

The Turoe stone is considered to be one of the finest examples of La Tène stonework decorations in the entire Europe. The reason for the creation of this remarkable stone is not known. Could it be that its purpose is entirely decorative? Did it have a symbolical meaning? The task of answering these questions is on the shoulders of the future generations of researchers. Be it as it may, the people of Ballum are extremely fond of this stone and in 2007 they have refused to move it from its current location in front of Turoe House.

Climate Change Is No More Credible than Magic


by James Delingpole

The evidence for man-made climate change is so flimsy that you might just as well believe in magic.

Richard Lindzen, Alfred P Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Emeritus at Massachussetts Institute of Technology, has long expressed doubts about the “science” behind anthropogenic global warming theory. (h/t Paul Homewood)

Now, in probably his most comprehensive and devastating assault yet on the Climate Industrial Complex, Lindzen shreds every one of the fake-science arguments used by the environmentalists to justify their hugely expensive “global warming” scare story.

The 97% meme

This is a fabrication designed to make idiots feel like experts. As Lindzen puts it:

The ’97 per cent of scientists believe in global warming’] claim is meant to satisfy the non-expert that he or she has no need to understand the science. Mere agreement with the 97% will indicate that one is a supporter of science and superior to anyone denying disaster. This actually satisfies a psychological need for many people.

But, he explains, it’s just a trick created by pretending that all the scientists who agree that humans make a contribution to global warming (ie almost everyone) also agree with the alarmist theory that global warming is catastrophic, unprecedented and within man’s control. Which simply isn’t the case.

The ‘warmest years on record’ meme

Alarmists have been shrieking a lot recently that most of the hottest years on record – 14 out of 15, according to the UN – have happened since 2000.

This is silly for a number of reasons, Lindzen explains.

Click to enlarge.
First, warmth is not necessarily bad or worrying thing:

It begins with the ridiculous presumption that any warming whatsoever (and, for that matter, any increase in CO2) is bad, and proof of worse to come. We know that neither of these presumptions is true. People retire to the Sun Belt rather than to the arctic. CO2 is pumped into greenhouses to enhance plant growth.

Second, it doesn’t – as some idiots believe – mean that global warming hasn’t paused for the last twenty years.

Of course, if 1998 was the hottest year on record, all the subsequent years will also be among the hottest years on record. None of this contradicts the fact that the warming (ie, the increase of temperature) has ceased.

Third, the differences in temperature are so small as to be almost unmeasurable and are open to all manner of fraudulent adjustments by politically motivated climate gatekeepers.

The extreme weather meme

Sharknadoes & extreme weather!
The idea that we are experiencing more “extreme weather” events because of “climate change” is plain dishonest.

Roger Pielke, Jr. actually wrote a book detailing the fact that there is no trend in virtually any extreme event (including tornados, hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.) with some actually decreasing. Even the UN’s IPCC acknowledges that there is no basis for attributing such events to anthropogenic climate change.

In fact, its pure propaganda designed to scare the ignorant:

The claims of extreme weather transcend the usual use of misleading claims. They often amount to claims for the exact opposite of what is actually occurring. The object of the claims is simply to be as scary as possible, and if that requires claiming the opposite of the true situation, so be it.

Despite what they say, this is probably not going to happen.
Sea level rise

Not a problem:

Globally averaged sea level appears to have been rising at the rate of about 6 inches a century for thousands of years.

Arctic sea ice

After decreasing in the Arctic for a period and increasing in the Antarctic it now appears to be stabilizing. But so what?

All one can say, at this point, is that the behavior of arctic sea ice represents one of the numerous interesting phenomena that the earth presents us with, and for which neither the understanding nor the needed records exist. It probably pays to note that melting sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise. Moreover, man has long dreamt of the opening of this Northwest Passage. It is curious that it is now viewed with alarm.

Polar bear meme

I suspect that Al Gore undertook considerable focus-group research to determine the remarkable effectiveness of the notion that climate change would endanger polar bears. His use of an obviously photoshopped picture of a pathetic polar bear on an ice float suggests this.

Ocean acidification

This is again one of those obscure claims that sounds scary but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Ever since the acid rain scare, it has been realized that the public responds with alarm to anything with the word ‘acid’ in it. […]

[…] As usual, there is so much wrong with this claim that it takes a fairly long article to go over it all. I recommend the following source.

Death of coral reefs

Somewhat exaggerated…

The reasoned response to this [alarmist Nature] paper is provided here.

As Steele, the author of the above, points out, bleaching has common causes other than warming and is far from a death sentence for corals whose capacity to recover is substantial. This article is a bit polemical, but essentially correct.

Global warming as the cause of everything

Hardly anyone has the time and energy to deal with the huge number of claims. Fortunately, most are self-evidently absurd. Nation magazine recently came up with what is a bit of a champion is this regard. CO2, it should be noted, is hardly poisonous. On the contrary, it is essential for life on our planet and levels as high as 5000 ppm are considered safe on our submarines and on the space station (current atmospheric levels are around 400 ppm, while, due to our breathing, indoor levels can be much higher). The Nation article is typical in that it makes many bizarre claims in a brief space. It argues that a runaway greenhouse effect on Venus led to temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Of course, no one can claim that the earth is subject to such a runaway, but even on Venus, the hot surface depends primarily on the closeness of Venus to the sun and the existence of a dense sulfuric acid cloud covering the planet. Relatedly, Mars, which also has much more CO2 than the earth, is much further from the sun and very cold. As we have seen many times already, such matters are mere details when one is in the business of scaring the public.

Lindzen’s article is well worth reading in full, not only for the usefulness of its scientific rebuttals but also simply to enjoy the loftiness of the author’s magisterial contempt for the entire field of climate “science.”

It is the exasperated sigh of a hugely intelligent and well-informed scientist absolutely sick to the back teeth of trying to explain the truth about climate change to audiences which have been brainwashed into drooling idiocy.

For over 30 years, I have been giving talks on the science of climate change. When, however, I speak to a non-expert audience, and attempt to explain such matters as climate sensitivity, the relation of global mean temperature anomaly to extreme weather, that warming has decreased profoundly for the past 18 years, etc., it is obvious that the audience’s eyes are glazing over. Although I have presented evidence as to why the issue is not a catastrophe and may likely be beneficial, the response is puzzlement. I am typically asked how this is possible. After all, 97% of scientists agree, several of the hottest years on record have occurred during the past 18 years, all sorts of extremes have become more common, polar bears are disappearing, as is arctic ice, etc. In brief, there is overwhelming evidence of warming, etc. I tend to be surprised that anyone could get away with such sophistry or even downright dishonesty, but it is, unfortunately, the case that this was not evident to many of my listeners.

Lindzen does not even pretend there’s a credible scientific case for the man-made global warming scare theory – because basically there just isn’t one. Believing in this theory, he concludes, is as stupid as believing in magic.

I haven’t spent much time on the details of the science, but there is one thing that should spark skepticism in any intelligent reader. The system we are looking at consists in two turbulent fluids interacting with each other. They are on a rotating planet that is differentially heated by the sun. A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast energetic ramifications. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and reemission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. In this complex multifactor system, what is the likelihood of the climate (which, itself, consists in many variables and not just globally averaged temperature anomaly) is controlled by this 2% perturbation in a single variable? Believing this is pretty close to believing in magic. Instead, you are told that it is believing in ‘science.’ Such a claim should be a tip-off that something is amiss. After all, science is a mode of inquiry rather than a belief structure.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


"Those who are afraid to fight will be eaten by those who are not. Furthermore, I'm hungry."

-- Anonymous Patriot



We Used To Call It Propaganda


The liberal mainstream media continues to peddle its "fake news" narrative practically in desperation. It's dawned on the public that the MSM is the primary purveyor of "fake news"-- mainly in self-referential narratives that support a blatantly slanted agenda with unsupported accusations and suitably anonymous sources. America, you've been scammed.

Many of these Fake News Narratives are laughable, painfully bogus: for example, the press keeps suggesting that President Trump is a Russian tool. (That President Obama was a tool of the neocon Deep State -- no mention of that. According to the MSM, America doesn't even have a Deep State.

But the real danger isn't fake news--it's junk news. Junk News (the title of a 2009 book by an Emmy Award–winning journalist-- Junk News: The Failure of the Media in the 21st Century) --is related to Junk Science and Junk Food.

Junk science is presented as "science" but cherry-picks data to support a specific but unstated agenda--an agenda that requires downplaying or overlooking conflicting data.

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One common example of junk science is the approval of new medications by the FDA. If you actually dig into Phase III data, you may well find that the "benefits" of the new wonder-drugs are barely above statistical chance, and the potential interactions with commonly prescribed (or imbibed) drugs are ignored.

This is how we end up with medications with deathly side-effects: death from misadventure, addiction, and in combination with other commonly prescribed meds, etc.

For more junk science, check out the UN's declaration on Climate Change. Or, tune into one of Bill Nye's rants where he "schools" reporters on not only climate change but also how there are more than two genders. Bill should stick to proving the boiling point of water.

Junk news is less filling but with more taste!
Junk food is now so ubiquitous we lose sight of its core qualities: it is "food" in the sense of being digestible, but it is harmful above very small, occasional doses. It is not "food" in the context of natural food or healthy food--in those contexts, "junk food" must be placed in parentheses because it doesn't qualify as "food."

It is empty calories, garbage that generates a host of chronic illnesses, but not "food" in the sense of being nutritious, life-supporting or healthy.

Junk news is like junk science -- cherry-picked to support a corporate agenda -- and like junk food in being digestible but toxic. As this brilliant essay explains, the unemployment rate is a premier example of junk news (and junk economics -- a thriving subculture of junk science and junk news. People believe this crap because it gets drilled into them and because it fits a politically-motivated agenda. Mommy, do conspiracies really exist? I'm afraid so, snowflake.

An unemployment rate of 4.7% once meant full employment and rising wages for the laboring class -- but alas, now it is just another ginned-up junk news "statistic" designed to push a bogus narrative: everything is awesome (as the financial security of the bottom 80% swirls the drain).

The key difference between fake news and junk news is plausibility: fake news is innuendo, anonymous sources, and risibly false accusations presented as "fact"; junk news is, like junk science, supported by carefully cherry-picked "data" that has been selected to support the corporate-Deep State narrative being pushed by the corporate mainstream media.

Media junkies on the path to extinction believe the junk news, non-junkies see through the manipulation. If you think it's "progressive" to support war-mongering, neoliberal exploitation and "support our values" social-justice distractions -- sorry, you're a junkie addicted to toxic smack. You're doomed if you can't get the corporate mainstream media monkey off your back.

John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

8:47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

Monday, May 8, 2017


"You can make ten times more money in one day of war than you can in a whole year of peace." -- the Rothschilds

Making Money from War -- THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD
The World's Banker, 1849-1999
By Niall Ferguson

Sunday, May 7, 2017

She Blinded Me With Science



Life


"Mama, where did I come from?"
"You came from the hospital, dear."

How do we determine what is alive and what isn't? Generally, if it moves, we call "it" alive. If it breathes, if it bleeds, if it eats, if it grows... these are also indications. However, those definitions are not always correct.

Take, for instance, how crystals are formed. A crystal can grow, reach equilibrium, and even move in response to stimuli, but lacks what commonly would be thought of as a biological nervous system. We don't claim that crystals are alive. So how do we determine if something is alive or not?

Doing so is sort of like the ancient Hindu story of identifying an elephant by having each of six blind men touch only the tail, the trunk, or the leg. Each describes something different. A biologist might give a dramatically different answer from that given by a theoretical physicist.

Some agreement is possible. Living things tend to be complex and highly organized. They have the ability to take in energy from the environment and transform it for growth and reproduction. Organisms tend toward homeostasis: an equilibrium of parameters that define their internal environment. Living creatures respond, and their stimulation fosters a reaction-like motion, recoil, and in advanced forms, learning. Life is reproductive, as some kind of copying is needed for the process to repeat itself. To grow and develop, living creatures need to be consumers, since growth includes changing biomass, creating new individuals, and the shedding of waste.

To qualify as a living thing, a creature must meet some variation for all these criteria. For example, a crystal can grow, reach equilibrium, and even move in response to stimuli, but lacks what commonly would be thought of as a biological nervous system.

While a "bright line" definition is needed, the borderline cases give life's definition a distinctly gray and fuzzy quality. In hopes of restricting the working definition (at least here on Earth), all known organisms seem to share a carbon-based chemistry, depend on water, and leave behind fossils with carbon or sulfur isotopes that point to present or past metabolism.

Click to enlarge.
Life is classified among four biological families: archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses. Archaea are the recently defined branch that often survives in extreme environments as single cells, and they share traits with both bacteria and eukaryotes. Bacteria, often referred to as prokaryotes, generally lack chlorophyll (except for cyanobacteria) and a cell nucleus, and they ferment and respire to produce energy. The eukaryotes include all organisms whose cells have a nucleus - so humans and all other animals are eukaryotes, as are plants, protists, and fungi. The final grouping includes viruses, which don't have cells at all, but fragments of DNA and RNA that parasitically reproduce when they infect a compatible host cell. These classifications clarify the grand puzzle of existing life, but do little to provide a final definition.

Attempts at definition get even more complicated when extended beyond the Earth's biosphere. The recent addition of extremophiles (archaea) to the tree of life underscores the notion that life is defined by what we know, what we have seen before, and often what we have succeeded in domesticating to a laboratory petri dish.

As revealed by its remarkable biochemical and microbiological similarities, life on Earth has a common origin. Despite this amazing morphological diversity, scientists say terrestrial life represents only a single case.

The medieval alchemists classified many different kinds of substances as water, including nitric acid (which was called "aqua fortis"). They did this because nitric acid exhibited many of the properties of water, and perhaps most importantly, it was a good solvent. It wasn't until the advent of a molecular theory that scientists could understand why nitric acid is not water. And so it goes with definitions for life.

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All theories of the origin of life face two major hurdles. The biggest is explaining the origin of the complex cooperative schema worked out between proteins and nucleic acids -- the controlled production of self-replicating catalytic systems of biomolecules. Was it God or was it random chance?

All the scenarios that have been proposed for producing RNA under plausible natural conditions lack experimental demonstration, and this includes the RNA world, clay crystals, and vesicle accounts. No one has been able to synthesize RNA without the help of protein catalysts or nucleic acid templates, and on top of that, there is the fragility of the RNA molecule to contend with.

The more serious problem, however, is the next stage of the process: the coordination of proteins and RNA through a genetic code into a self-replicating catalytic system of molecules. The probability of this happening by chance (given a random mixture of proteins and RNA) is astronomically low. Yet most researchers like to assume that if they can make sense of the independent production of proteins and RNA under natural primordial conditions, the coordination will somehow take care of itself.

The popular theory among academics postulates an initial protein world that eventually produced an RNA world as a by-product of an increasingly sophisticated metabolism. The RNA world, which starts out as an obligatory parasite of the protein world, eventually produces the cooperative schema, and hence life as we know it today. Researchers like this explanation. It's neat, it's easy, and it provides a "scientific" explanation.

Certainly, life arising from nonliving materials could occur elsewhere than Earth, but it could also have occurred on Earth. It is possible that extraterrestrial life exists and that all life nonetheless has a common ancestor. Scientists believe microbes can survive interplanetary journeys ensconced in meteors produced by asteroid impacts on planetary bodies containing life. In other words, we could all be the descendants of Martians.

It is also possible that life on Earth is the product of a very complex historical process that involves too many contingencies to be readily accessible to definitive experimental investigations. So even if we can't produce life in the lab from nonliving materials, it doesn't really follow that we will never know how life originated on Earth.

When we find other lifeforms away from Earth, it will go a long way in determining how we define what is and what is not alive. Indeed, it is exciting to consider the chances of life under the ice of one of Saturn's famous moons, or perhaps discovering and labeling microbes deep within the Earth itself, or floating freely in space.

These are big questions that will not be answered by scientists sitting in an earthly laboratory mixing chemicals and applying electric shocks to a mass of enzymes and proteins. Plus, when we consider that even science has its limitations, we begin to understand that we are bound to a materialistic consideration of these matters. In other words, if God created life, why would He share the process with us anyway?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Megafauna: Where Did They Go?


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Once upon a time, there were lots of other large animals like the Elephant roaming the earth -- for instance, the Wooly Mammoth. We refer to these extinct creatures as Megafauna. The Megafauna disappeared only recently, in the range of tens of thousands of years, and scientists do not know why. The two main reasons that have been speculated are over-hunting by man and climate change (I know, let's blame it on climate change -- why not a plague or an apocalyptic asteroid strike?). Those who say it may be climate change have very little evidence (like, none) besides claiming that there isn’t enough evidence for the other explanations. As for the over-hunting theory, most scientists say even if it were true, there may be very little archeological evidence. So, the Mystery remains unsolved. What do you think might have happened?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Catch-22


While sitting at home one morning in 1953, Joseph Heller wrote the lines, "It was love at first sight. The first time he saw the chaplain, [Yossarian] fell madly in love with him." Within days, he envisioned the story that would result, and invented the characters, the plot, and the tone that the story would eventually take. Within a week, he finished the first chapter and sent it to his agent. He did not do any more writing for the next year, as he planned the rest of the story. The initial chapter was published in 1955 as "Catch-18", in Issue 7 of New World Writing.

Heller did not intend the story to be longer than a novelette, but was able to add enough substance to the plot that he felt it could become his first novel. When he was a third done with the work, his agent sent it to publishers. Heller was not particularly attached to the work, and decided he would not finish it if publishers were not interested. The work was soon purchased by Simon and Schuster, who gave him $750 and promised an additional $750 when the full manuscript was delivered. Heller missed his deadline by five years but after eight years, he finally delivered the novel to his publisher.

The finished novel describes the wartime experiences of Army Air Corps Captain John Yossarian. Yossarian creates multiple strategies to avoid combat missions, but the military bureaucracy is always able to find a way to make him stay. As Heller observed, "Everyone in my book accuses everyone else of being crazy. Frankly, I think the whole society is nuts – and the question is: What does a sane man do in an insane society?" Heller has also commented that "peace on earth would mean the end of civilization as we know it."

Just before publication, the novel's title was changed to Catch-22 to avoid confusion with Leon Uris' new novel, Mila 18. The novel was published in hardback in 1961 to mixed reviews, with the Chicago Sun-Times calling it "the best American novel in years", while other critics derided it as "disorganized, unreadable, and crass". It sold only 30,000 copies in the United States hardback in its first year of publication. Reaction was different in the UK, where, within one week of its publication, the novel was number one on the bestseller lists. Once it was released in paperback in October 1962, however, Catch-22 caught the imaginations of baby boomers, who identified with the novel's anti-war sentiments. The book went on to sell 10 million copies in the United States. The novel's title became a buzzword for a dilemma with no easy way out. Now considered a classic, Catch-22 was listed at number 7 on Modern Library's list of the top 100 novels of the century. The United States Air Force Academy uses the novel to "help prospective officers recognize the dehumanizing aspects of bureaucracy."

The movie rights to the novel were purchased in 1962, and, combined with his royalties, made Heller a millionaire. The film, which was directed by Mike Nichols and starred Alan Arkin, Jon Voight and Orson Welles, was not released until 1970. In my humble opinion, the movie was not very good.