Thursday, February 28, 2008

More remarkable Korean research in the international news

An American Evolution blog has made the news here for its fisking of Hwangian Research concerning mitchondria by a Korean scientist (and an apparently Egyptian colleague - this link is to a screen shot of the Korean article. The words are a little blurred but I think it says Warda, the second author, is from Egypt). The newspaper is not named at Pharyngula.

UPDATED: Here is the Korean newspaper page, the Hangyoreh.

Pharyngula (the Evolution blog) author Myers generally accepted the research until these few sentences caught his eye:
This might be true, but we still need to know the secret behind this disciplined organized wisdom. We realize so far that mitochondria could be the link between the body and this preserved wisdom of the soul devoted to guaranteeing life.

Mitochondria are remarkable organelles but one seldom finds research or reference to souls in biological reports (or chemistry reports or Physics reports...)

The article has also been criticized for plagiarism (BTW, check out Joe Seoul Man on the subject).

The Korean author is Han Jin of FIRST Mitochondrial Resarch Group, Inje University, Busan

The article has been removed from the journal's website.

Dr. Han has responded
directly to Pharyngula but did not particularly clear things up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Someone on the internet is wrong!

I've been involved in a fairly cordial discussion of creationism vs evolution - it plays out in the comments of my Darwin Day of Feb 12.

How engrossing or fascinating has it been (for me anyway- you are likely to find it boring)? I think this comic perfectly describes the situation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

OnTV now

I am watching well-dressed men and women be honoured for great work done last year. There are winners but also, not in plain sight, are losers.

Am I watching Lee Myoung Bak's inauguration ceremony or the Oscars?

In fact, I am channel -hopping between the two but shall soon turn the TV off.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What would it take?

Everyone has opinions (Mr Eastwood, in a performance the Oscar Committee should have favored, compared them to a$$holes in that regard). what would it take for you to change yours?

I invite readers to discuss these opinions or to suggest other opinions they strongly hold- what would it take to change your mind on those subjects? I might not respond to those who attack my opinions without stating what it would take for them to change there counter opinions.

I am going to start by discussing evolution - if you aren't interested, skip down a few paragraphs and look for the bolded Fan-death. Areas more related to like in Korea are mentioned there.

I think the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the living world around us. I also think many other inter-related or inter-supported theories are correct: the Bing Bang Theory, and plate tectonics are two examples. I also think that the evidence for evolution is so great that I can't imagine giving it up. In the first few years after Darwin wrote "Origin of the Species", I could easily see people arguing against the theory. One thing it has going for it is it has both evidence and mechanism. There are fossils and other evidence and we know DNA is subject to occasional bad copies. Gravity, on the other hand, only has evidence of it's existence - no one know the mechanism. Not even the germ theory of disease is as well supported -germs, I suppose bacteria and viruses are germs, cause most, but by no means all disease -cancer is a counter example, as are prions and heavy-metal poisoning.

Lets see, to overturn my acceptance of evolution would probably require several incremental elements rather than one big piece of new research. I cannot clearly say what it would take. The fragments of viral DNA that infected far distant ancestors and which we carry as do the great apes seems so unlikely to happen by chance. Discoveries like Tiktaalik, in the right place at the right time would be hard to explain as accident.

I recall one person at the Talkorigins usenet group saying that it would easier to fake the Holocaust than the evidence for evolution because the evidence for the former is man made might possibly be forgible. Neither he, nor I, think the Holocaust was faked - just wanted to be clear on that.

I am afraid it would take some clear news of a deceptive god, some powerful being that created and hid fossils and other evidence just to trick us.

Wait, if Voyager ran into a crystal barrier or otherwise showed that light might be slowed in space - well, that would help but still wouldn't explain the evidence on Earth.

Other opinions:

I love the idea of Fan-death. My blog gets around the majority of its hits from wikipedia visitors following a link here.

I think the concept is garbage, though. I have to slip into a smaller font here - I am whispering: -I even think the Dean of my university's medical department, who is quoted on the wikipedia page, is wrong. I don't think fans can cause hypothermia except under very extreme conditions. Okay, I'm back. I think that animal research is the way to go, but at the same time, I don't think this is important enough to mistreat animals. I suppose that if the results were positive for Fan-death, they would justify the experiment. If the results were negative, well, why did you hurt those poor little animals?

I, for one, would be willing to be a lab rat for this experiment. I think other foreigners would be as well. I have to warn you, though; the Dean of our Medical Department feels other factors are involved. I don't mind a drink or two, but how much would I have to imbibe before laying motionless in front of a fan?

Meta comment: Should I have said
'laying' or 'lieing' there?
What is the P. Continuous of 'lie'?
I'm having trouble thinking of opinions I am for; there are many things I don't believe - acupuncture, ghosts, the existence of traffic regulations in this country, etc - but that makes a pretty negative list.

Dokdo is Korean, Kimchi is Korean
I believe these point to be so, but I can't claim to care all that much. Probably, I would not change my mind because I am not interested to look into the history of each claim. Evolution was a viewpoint that is not likely to change because I understand it well. The Koreanness of Dokdo is unlikely to change because I don't understand the issue well.

Aid to North Korea
I am generally against it. To make me pro-aid, I would need to see where it was going.

President Lee's Canal
I think it is a bad idea. If I could see where the water to fill the canal would come from, that would go part way to helping me change my mind.

Outside of Korea
WMDs in Iraq
GI Korea stated, some time ago, that WMDs had in fact been found. Later, Rumsfeld was on TV saying that they had no WMDs had been found. I would like to believe my friend, but I can't see why Rumsfeld would deny it.

Hans Island is Canadian
I will never deny this! Obviously Hans Island is Canadian! Crazy Danes! More exclamation points!

What have I missed?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Checking in

Not much going on, here. The little guy and I both have colds and he doesn't know how to use tissue, hankerchiefs, or to sniffle - I've been keeping up, trying to avoid a slime trail through the apartment.

Two friends got married yesterday at the Sokcho museum in a traditional ceremony. I'm sure they have their own comments about the wedding but the high point for me was when they tossed the rooster and hen into the air at the end of the ceremony and the hen made a good run for the door. Apparently, she was a little heavy, so she dropped some ballast on the way. I don't know who got hit.

Next week is the last week of NURI camp (I have no idea what the initials are for but they fund ESL study for tourism majors at my university). The work's been good but it is heavily focused on TOEIC. The students have a TOEIC test this Friday. TOEIC is an annoying and difficult thing to teach -the point of the test is for students to be prepared for any possible answer.
"Are you going to class, tomorrow?" could be answered by "yes" or "no', but also by alternative plans or excuses. Some stuff can be taught but there really isn't a clear subject through any one class.

Anonymous, although I have other things going on, I plan to respond to your comments - I will post here, on the main page, when I do.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Darwin Day and SermonAudio

The photo is from Washington university. Since the URL is on the photo, I hope I can use it.

A commenter, for no good reason, suggested I visit SermonAudio (I discuss religion frequently, so there is good reason to mention such a site, but this was a post about sharing soup, not the body of Christ or Loaves and Fishes or the like). The link was broken but I looked around while I was there. I am uninterested in theological issues in general, but searched for evolution and found a few sermons on the subject.

EDIT: The link was probably fine. Comments cannot exceed a certain number of characters or they get cut off. I could probably read it from inside Blogger and I may do so. My commenter and I need to use '' to make the address fit on the blogger comment page.

February 12th is Darwin Day. Charles Darwin (and Abraham Lincoln) were born one hundred and ninety-nine years ago.

I listened to one sermon and considered trying to tear it apart, as a good atheist should, but in honour of Darwin Day, let me instead go over the sermon and point out one particular group of errors in it: evolution is not purely atheistic.

I started listening, intending to hear the whole thing before commenting or the putting finger to keyboard but I felt I wouldn't be able to take another time through. I started writing quotes then started listing where the quotes were as I wrote them down. The first few quotes, then, have no time-stamp, but later ones do.

Dr. Griswold died in 1982 and I don't know when these recordings were made. I still find them relevant because the site felt they were relevant, posting them in 2004. The claims and points of the sermon are similar to those that could be found today. The final third is mostly about the evolutionistic worldview -which he thinks is the same as an atheistic worldview. As I am not defending atheism today, I left that part out.

Selected quotes from the sermon with my commentary in blue:

"Maybe the most subtle, and the dangerous satanic forces to undermine [Christianity] is evolution."

Without question as a believer, as a Christian, we accept what the bible says on the subject about creation.

[scientists] brag about their belief in evolution, not realizing that they are placing their faith in religious and philosophical principles and not in scientific fact.

They are opposed. You can not believe in both.

"The most logical and reasonable place to deal with an atheistic, evolutionary worldview is in the pulpit."

The evolutionary worldview is a non-theistic conception of reality.

Let's start here: evolutionary biologists reference God in their observations just as frequently as other scientists do (which is to say, not at all). I wanted to mention a situation here where a mathematician was explaining his calculations to royalty, but I can't find the details online, I don't remember enough of the story to search for it. Anyway, the King said something like, "you forgot to add God into your explanation", whereupon the mathematician replied, "God wasn't necessary".

Science cannot disprove God. It may be able to disprove certain specific claims made regarding a deity but not against the idea of God. Even disproving specific claims is challenging.

In 2005, there was a trial in Dover, Pennsylvania about Intelligent Design. In it, Michael Behe suggested an experiment that could test his claims for ID. He never actually performed the experiment.

The idea was to culture a group of flagellum-less bacteria and hold them in conditions that would encourage them to evolve flagella. The problem with this experiment is in interpreting any results. Let's see: No flagella appear- that could mean that evolution did not work or that flagella were evolving but the intelligent designer caused a miracle and removed the flagella. Flagella appear - either they evolved or the designer felt they needed them and created flagella for the bacteria. If we accept that no one can know the mind of God or that God works in mysterious ways, no result in such an experiment is meaningful. (Thank you, Richard B. Hoppe )

I suppose that scientists can (and do) argue that no flood of the proportions necessary for Noah occurred. That event might be argued for or against, but if God created such a flood and hid the evidence, we will never know.

9:30 Wherever evolutionists give any place to God, it is an abstract, cosmic mind, or cosmic hand that exploded an egg that came out to be the universes of the world.

A common error for creationists; he is mistaking evolution for all of science here wants to argue against the Big Bang thats the realm of physicists, not biologists. I cheerfully accept his “…the universes of the world remark everyone makes little slips and such. Remember, my choice to not comment negatively means you cant comment negatively on whatever spelling errors and non-content-related problems are found here!

12:___ But wherever evolutionism is accepted the God of the bible, biblical theism must of necessity and logic and philosophically be rejected. God must be eliminated from man's understanding of the world. But, you say, isn't that the scientific view. My dear friends, I do not know of a more loaded world view than evolution.

Any knowledgeable and reasonable evolutionist knows that he operates on presuppositions. That is presuppositions that he accepts by faith which cannot be proven scientifically.

16:25 - Some slime or mud became protoplasm...

Not exactly evolution. Abiogenesis in some form (Gods hand would be fine) had to occur before evolution had material to work on.

17:00 teachers act like red-seated baboons and its hard not to imagine that they might not have evolved from one.

I am reminded of Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce:

the Bishop rose, and in a light scoffing tone, florid and he assured us there was nothing in the idea of evolution; rock-pigeons were what rock-pigeons had always been. Then, turning to his antagonist with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey? On this Mr Huxley slowly and deliberately arose. A slight tall figure stern and pale, very quiet and very grave, he stood before us, and spoke those tremendous words [Kwandongbrian says legend has reshaped the words so often that I dont know what he said exactly, but it boiled down to If you use such a cheap debating technique, I would rather have a monkey than a Bishop for a father]

17:45 The evolutionary worldview is not only non-theistic, ruling out god, but it is an irrational conception of reality. Irrational.

If a scientist should arise on Monday morning, dress himself, drive to his laboratory, or to his university chair, or to his theological field, or whatever endeavour in the name of science and operate on the principles of his evolutionary pre-supposition, he would take his clothes off, go back to bed, take an overdose of sleeping pills and go to Hell. Why? Because, with his concept of reality, the world is irrational. It was only by chance, by luck, that the sun came up. He goes down to that laboratory, its only by chance that it'll be there. And its only by chance that the mathematical formula he used to solve yesterday won't work today.

Here is where I am pissed off. A man totally ignorant of science should be more carefully making arguments based on scientific research.

The main point of this post is to correct creationists on this matter: evolutionists can be religious. See more after the quoted section.

[he is still talking about evolutionary pre-suppositions]...if he is a physician, the prescription he writes today that was usable for a man yesterday for a certain illness will kill him dead: because it is an irrational universe. In a universe without God, without rationality, things will go wild.

Again, I dont know when this sermon was first given. When did scientists and physicians learn about evolved immunity resistance? Quinine was once an anti-malarial drug. Now it has no effect. I still take frequent quinine supplements in a juniper-berry distillation, just in case. They make me feel better; I guess you could call them a tonic or some such thing. Anyway, this is a crazy-bad example.

21:00 presupposition ...blind laws that can not think, they might not know they are laws, and so they might not operate.

They might not know they are laws so they might not operate. A wonderful argument.

Here ends the quoted section

There were a few things later in the sermon I wanted to comment on. Probability. It doesnt directly relate to my main point but creationists misuse probability so much that I must mention it.

Dr. Griswold states that a scientist stated that for humans to evolve from the first living cells was very unlikely. The odds against it were two billion to one. I have heard other, much higher numbers and always the point is to show that evolution couldnt have happened.

Well, outside my apartment building are a row of cars. Lets look at ten of them. Each car has a four digit license plate (there is another set of digits and a Korean syllable, but I will leave them out as I dont know the bounds of those terms). Forty digits then. The odds of guessing, of predicting, what those forty digits are come out to one times ten to the fortieth power against. One followed by forty zeros.

Those odds are so bad that no one could ever guess them. No guess would ever be right. The odds of any forty digit number being right- well, its impossible.

Does that mean the ten parking spaces are empty? No. I could go down there and record those numbers and bring them back to my computer. Lets say they are 4,3,7,5,7,9,3,3,4,1,5,..5. What are the odds of those numbers being right? One hundred percent. I am not predicting anything. It already happened.

Back to evolution, the scientist Dr. Griswold was quoting was not making a prediction at all. Things evolve, occasional catastrophes occur, and certain animals are given a lucky break. The weather is basically random, asteroid hits are random. Although Natural Selection is not random, it is affected by random occurances. There is no reason to expect people to be inevitably created by evolution. We are one possibility of, well, two billion, I guess.

Near the end of the sermon, Dr. Griswold again mistook evolutionists for atheists and atheists for bad people. He claimed Hitler was an evolutionist and that euthanasia was an evolutionist scheme. He apparently never heard of animal husbandry, which was ongoing long before Darwin and which was tied more tightly to these events than evolution (and was misused as well I dont want the animal husbandry people after me). Despite being a clergyman, I guess he never studied Martin Luther - the guy didn't like Jews much and Hitler didn't have to look outside of religion to invent an excuse for his monstrosities (I'm saying Hitler could have misused religion).

Dr. Griswold died more than twenty years ago. He could not have learned of the Clergy Letter Project, in which more than 11,000 Christian clergyfolk signed a letter accepting that evolution and Christianity and evolution are not in conflict and that evolution appears to be the best explanation for lifes diversity.

He did touch on theistic evolution at the end of the sermon, claiming that such a compromise was unacceptable. He is entitled to his view but this brings me back to my point of being unable to know the mind of God. The evidence is clear, the Earth is billions of years old, flowering plants occurred before bees and other pollinating insects did and there was no world-wide flood. There was also no Tower of Babel but I dont know if that is, um, a bible myth, or a no bible myth.

The evidence is compelling: the bible, taken literally, and the evidence dont match. Trying to claim that they do is only going to create atheists.

Happy Darwin Day, everyone!

Yellow Dust already?

I don't want to start any panics with unverified rumours but today visibility was crappy in Sokcho.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

LegoLand Exhibit at Coex

The Kwandong family spent a lot of time on the bus yesterday and went to Seoul. We visited Children's Grand Park and the Lego Exhibit at Coex Mall.

It was our first visit to Children's Grand Park and we had a great time. We could have spent the whole day there. The zoo is tiny and I am not sure how humane the conditions were but the little guy got to see a lot of animals close up. We found an alligator song (in Korean) on Yahoo Infants a few days ago and the little guy hasn't learned the word 'alligator' in Korean but can say 'Alligators, ahhh!'. We also saw many monkeys (most in outdoor cages -a little colder than most of those creatures would be used to) and the black gibbon was the most interesting. It faced the glass and watched us as closely as we watched it.

Of course, the little one was just as interested in the pigeons and magpie he saw.

We had lunch with a family friend then went to Coex, planning to see the aquarium. When I saw signs for the Lego exhibit and that it closed on the tenth, we had to investigate.

When I worked in Seoul, I had a student who 'taught' Lego. She went from house to house with various kits and young children made simple things and older, even high school age and older, students made robots and explored physics concepts with Lego creations. The full range of stuff was on display here. KwandongAlex and I made stuff with blocks bigger than my head, some intermediate size and the small pieces I was familiar with.

And that was a big part of the draw. I saw a lot of dads concentrating fiercely while they worked (and some moms bored nearly to napping). Perhaps that is why children and adults alike were charged a whopping fifteen thousand won to experience what was basically an extended Lego commercial (perhaps mothers should have been charged less).

photos in earlier posts ( the ship is from Norway and had a Norwegian flag before I changed it to the tae-kukki and I don't really think my friends really pose in such artificial stances).

A 3-D representation of the planned Kyoung-bu Canal.

All we need is a perfectly flat water surface, maybe like the ocean!

Frickin' Dinosaurs!

Peaceful, gentle herbivores my ass! I don't know why my sister named her daughter after one of these jerks!If it's not clear why I'm angry, perhaps this closeup will help.
If that's not enough, then triceratops got a little too hungry.
How were KwandongAlex and I going to run away from velociraptor after that?

Friday, February 08, 2008

My Kotesol Buddy's wedding

My friend, Graham, had planned to get (or at least told me he was getting) married later in the month, but I happened by today and there they were.
I mean, it's obviously Graham, who else has a beard like that? Ah, his fiance, LYN, normally has a smoother face, but, well, weddings are stressful; some skin problems are common on the big day.
Congratulations to the lucky couple from KwandongAlex and I.

Monday, February 04, 2008

sharing a communal soup?

The Lao-ocean Girl, as always, was way ahead of everyone else on this story. I can't find her post of double-dipping, but she discussed it a few years ago.

Yahoo has an article about finding bacteria in communal dips, just in time for the Superbowl. I presume the same information applies to the shared condiments available at a Korean restaurant. My favourite side dish is dwen-jang jigae (soy bean soup) and now I know I need to either hog it all to myself, be sure to eat first or pass on it altogether.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Make your dreams come ture!!!

I haven't commented often on misspelled English in Korean signs or the like because I mostly think it is cute or amusing.

On the other hand, if this birthday were for my child and I had spent great amounts of money, I would expect it to be done right and not end up embarrassing me.

Friday, February 01, 2008

How out of shape am I?

I've been swimming at Sorak Pines Resort and really happy about how quickly I got up to 1500 metres.

Today, I brought my watch to the pool deck and timed a few swims. The result: either I am ready to challenge Park Tae-hwan or the pool is much shorter than the short course standard of 25 metres!

What I originally figured to be about 1500 metres was actually around 1000 metres.

And I didn't notice.

It felt more or less as tiring as it should.

Anyway, I am now increasing the distance. 6 lengths took just under a minute thirty seconds so I figure that is close to 100 metres.

Other fitness news:

It seems I write more about exercise at the beginning of the new year. I do think about resolutions and such but i think it is more a matter of where I exercise. Typically in January and February, I am near scales so I see (and shudder at) my weight. My exercise is more measurable, too. Sometimes the measurements have only local meaning -I can compare distance and speed at Sorak Pines to other swims at Sorak Pines but not to other pools, for example. I mentioned years ago that ...wait, I have to back up a little.

In January, I bought 24 tickets to use the Sorak Pines pool and 30 tickets for Hae-su-pia Jimjilbang. I described, above, the pool. The jimjilbang or 'sauna' has a weight room and bathhouse facilities on one floor and dry saunas and an open area on a lower floor.

Now, I have to use the pool tickets by the end of March, but the sauna tickets are good forever. The sauna is a good place for us to take the little guy when it is too cold and windy to play outside. The open area is great for him to run around in and there is a children's area, as well.

Anyway, I am back to the sauna and its weight room but some of the weights feel surprisingly easy. Again, I can compare my lifts at the sauna to other lifts there but not to other weight rooms or historic lifts I have done.