Canada is made of gold

Check it out — with the gold-medal win tonight in Men’s Hockey against USA, Canada has officially broken the world record for gold medals won at the Winter Olympics with 14.

The medal count, embedded from CTV.ca:

View the vancouver2010.com medals’ table

I was sadly unable to catch anything but the celebration immediately after the game-winning goal by Sidney Crosby. Stupid feed taking forever and a day to start loading. Probably has something to do with my using Moonlight, which seems to have a really hard time connecting to Silverlight feeds for some reason. Stupid Microsoft getting an exclusive deal to stream the Olympics in Silverlight, which is a stupid stupid attempt by Microsoft to supplant existing standards with their own yet again.

Anyway. Enough rant. Hooray for Canada!

So now that we’ve won all sorts of gold, d’you think Harper could reinstate the government, since he was so afraid of having political debates while the games were on that he decided to prorogue yet again?

Can extremism be taken too far?

Yes, I’m aware of the inherent redundancy of the title. Anything “extremist” is already “too far”. People who believe you can rape and pillage the Earth and kill animals and destroy habitats for sport with no consequences are extremists, and people who believe you can harass, threaten and perpetrate violence on other human beings for even merely supporting humane scientific research are also extremists. And both of them are beyond the pale.

But there’s a line that you can cross that brings this latter sort of extremism, extremism against humans in defense of non-human animals, into the public eye — and that’s targeting scientists’ children.

Ringach presented a strong defense of the humane use of animals in biomedical research, too. And what was his reward for this?

The crazies have targeted his children again. In a post entitled UCLA February 2010 Wrap-Up: Demos Against Primate Abusers, an animal rights thug wrote:

As you can see from the pictures, Dario has a “rent-a-cop” in front of his home twenty-four seven! This must make his family feel like Dario is a mobster for some drug cartel, (although mobsters don’t commit nearly the gruesome, hideous things to innocent beings as Dario does to primates on a regular basis.) But Ringach is definitely a criminal who perpetrates horrific atrocities on primates, so we assume that his family must be getting used to living with a “rent a cop” outside.

More ominously, the thug continues:

As the pictures indicate, neighbors came out from many of the near-by houses, took leaflets and talked to activists about how much they hate their neighbor Dario for doing “hellish primate experimentation.” One, in fact, gave an activist the name of the school one of his offspring attends! Activists plan on legally leafleting the school in order to educate fellow students what their classmate’s father does for a living.

Scicurious nails the whole argument.

[A]nimal research is scary. It’s unknown. Most people don’t know how it works, and that ignorance inspires fear. When protesters carry frightening signs with pictures of research that was done decades ago, it’s not hard to imagine why people react so badly. And the fruits of animal research are not made public. Few people know of the dogs and pigs and cows that provided the first insulin allowing diabetics to live their lives. Few people know of the mice that are even now helping find treatments for cancer. What people see are the drugs on the shelf, in the syringe, the techniques at the hospital. No one thinks of where they come from. And so, out of ignorance or out of ethical disagreements, many people say that animal research is not necessary.

Many people like to say that animal research is not necessary. We have computers and cells, now, we don’t need animals! They are very wrong. First of all, a computer can only model the information we put into it. It can only represent and work with things we already know. And we know so very little about the human body, particularly the brain. If the calculations we put in are wrong, or even off by just a hair, the computer is going to give us the wrong answer, and lives could be at stake. As for cells, cells need medium in which to grow. That medium is provided by animals. Synthetic mediums simply do not work as well. And those cells have to come from somewhere. Not only that, cells in a dish cannot tell us everything that is going on in the body. A cell in a dish may say one thing, but a liver in a body may say something entirely different.

I honestly fear for the safety of the human beings who have been deigned expendable by the animal rights extremists. That they can’t get the necessity of this research is galling, given that it’s been explained time and time again. Good people like Janet Stemwhedel have tried to foster dialogue between the two camps on a number of occasions, and has gotten targeted herself for her trouble. It’s well beyond time to get mad.

Defend science as practiced by ethical, moral human beings. It’s all that stands between all life on Earth, and eternal oblivion.

Homosexuality’s deep biological roots

In the court battles over Proposition 8, the underlying question was whether homosexuality was a choice or biological. Critics often say “you can’t find a single gay gene”, but humans are squishy — they are resultant of about thirty thousand genes which build and detract and modify one another like ripples in a pond. Saying there’s no single gay gene is as accurate as that there is no single hair color gene, but both have every appearance of being genetic, and geneticists are quite convinced this is the case. And honestly, so am I. Nobody would intentionally choose to grossly limit the number of people they can choose partners from, while simultaneously opening themselves to hate crimes from complete assholes.

Most geneticists consider sexual orientation a phenotype — namely, an observable set of properties that varies among individuals. Although physical phenotypes like height and weight are easier to quantify, behavioral phenotypes are intensely studied in animals and humans. Research from many directions leads to a strong conclusion: Human sexual orientation has deep biological roots.
[…]
Gay genes appear paradoxical at first blush. From the perspective of natural selection, how could they persist in the population if they lead to fewer offspring? Recent research has uncovered several plausible explanations. For example, one set of studies found that the same inherited factors that favor male homosexuality actually increase the fecundity of female maternal relatives. By balancing the number of offspring, they would contribute to maintaining these genes over the course of evolution. This explanation may not be exclusive but serves to illustrate that the Darwinian problem is not necessarily overwhelming.

The article also talks about epigenetics, which I really don’t understand outside of the dictionary definition. I should probably go toddle off to Scicurious’ place and see if she’s talked about it in her archives.

Update 29 Aug 2011: So this is one of those blog posts I keep going and linking back to, but the article I originally linked has disappeared. Sigh. Here’s an alternate report discussing a study of gay brothers’ genetics. While genes might not be the only factor, while epigenetics might still play a role, it’s fairly obvious at this point that just like there’s no single gene that controls how tall you’ll be, sexuality might be an emergent property of a number of unrelated (and advantageous for other reasons) genes coupled with some epigenetic factors.