Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Book Review of Let Freedom Ring

I read a historic novel Let Freedom Ring (Thorndike Press). Al and JoAnna Lacy are the authors. The story takes place in the 19th century and centers around Russian characters struggling to maintain their Christian faith under repressive Czarist regimes. The book is packed with adventures involving conflicts between ordinary Russians and the dreaded Cossacks. Eventually a small group of Russians manage to save their lives, find their way out of the country and immigrate to the United States.

One part of the book was particularly striking to me. Chapter Nine, pages 190-191 contain the passage. The Czarist government had become callous to the needs of the people. But what was interesting was the route by which this came about. One of the main characters pointed out that in the prior century a combination of governmental promises and apathy among the populace led people to place too much trust in their government. Political leaders, acting on their greedy impulses, became increasingly powerful and abusive.

This parallels what is going on in America today. Apathy is pervasive and increasing power in the hands of greedy legislative and executive officials all too common. The trust placed in government officials is way out of proportion to what is merited. History shows that trends toward ever centralized and expanded government power erode the freedom of those governed. It may take some time before the ugliness of the power shift becomes apparent but it will. There is something pathetic about people placing too much faith and trust in the power elites of their society. It's a form of self-emasculation which burdens posterity with the consequences of the foolish choices made by their forefathers.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Significant Finding?

New nucleotide could revolutionize epigenetics is a EurekAlert article discussing work accomplished by Nathaniel Heintz's Laboratory. Quoting from the first paragraph:

Anyone who studied a little genetics in high school has heard of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine – the A,T,G and C that make up the DNA code. But those are not the whole story. The rise of epigenetics in the past decade has drawn attention to a fifth nucleotide, 5-methylcytosine (5-mC), that sometimes replaces cytosine in the famous DNA double helix to regulate which genes are expressed. And now there's a sixth. In experiments to be published online Thursday by Science, researchers reveal an additional character in the mammalian DNA code, opening an entirely new front in epigenetic research.

The author notes that the DNA methylation process involves targeting sites where cytosine precedes guanine in DNA. The enzyme DNA methyltransferase attaches a methyl group to cytosine and in doing so generates a distinct nucleotide called 5-methylcytosine. The process is linked to gene silencing.

An interesting feature of methylation is the effect the environment has on methylation patterns which can be inherited.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Eroding Freedom

The commentary AMBROSE: Ugly bailout fallout appeared in The Washington Times in the wake of the passage of the bailout bill. Although published on October 19, 2008 the author's words are prophetic:

Again and again, this Wall Street package will be used as an excuse to try to take freedom out of our markets, to throttle them with excessive regulation and leave them shorn of the innovation and energy that add up to prosperity. It will be used as an excuse for something else, too — creation of a European-style welfare state.

We have not arrived at that point but are heading in that direction. Geithner and others in government have made it plain that they intend nothing less than a right to determine how business recipients of public funding go about conducting business. Not very surprising and a major concern of many critics of the bill at the time it was formulated. More:

A chief argument on behalf of a commercial police state will be that regulatory laxity gave us the moment's pandemonium when, in fact, the main instigating factor was Democratic-sponsored social engineering abetted by the Federal Reserve's easy-money policies, ultimately leading beyond a doubt to irresponsible executive behavior in private institutions.

No one is arguing that government does not have a legitimate regulatory role to play but regulating, with the purpose of inhibiting fraud and questionable business practices, is a far cry from insisting on a right to determine policies about how business is conducted.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

The San Diego Epigenome Center

I found a good little pdf Epicentered with a down to earth, well-illustrated and appealing paper about epigenetics. A 16.6 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is being used to fund The San Diego Epigenome Center.