Blargh Blog

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


A new discovery in genetics: some plants can replace recently mutated genes of theirs with the version of the gene that their ancestors had a few generations ago, apparently using a backup copy of the genetic code that they store in the form of RNA. The Washington Post describes:
The newly discovered phenomenon, which resembles the caching of early versions of a computer document for viewing later, allows plants to archive copies of genes from generations ago, long assumed to be lost forever.

The biologists who made the discovery suspect that there may be a similar process in humans. It's not clear to me how the plant "decides" when to switch the gene or how it manages to make the switch in all of the relevant cells. Since the scientists have not even found the RNA templates yet, we might have to wait a few years on the details.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


#XI of the Philosophers' Carnival series is waiting for you at the only official blog of Clayton Littlejohn.


Get Well Soon

Dear Crooked Timber,

Get Well Soon!


Update: Yay!


Monday, March 21, 2005


Welcome to this week's edition of Out of Context Quote Fun:

We don't know why some girls have big breasts and some of them have small breasts. These are important questions — or at least jolly interesting ones — and we just don't know their answers.

Armand Leroi, scientist at Imperial College and author of Mutants


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Right Reason

The new conservative blog, Right Reason, has been up a couple weeks now and I've found a few of their posts to my liking. Max Goss has a post on the value of rootedness, including how different communities help shape our identity and how rootedness within the community can make us more free in some ways. Jim Ryan has a post on the role of rules and algorithms within morality, arguing that they are much less important than people generally think and that "fine-grained analogical reasoning" ought to have a central role in moral reasoning.

The down side to Right Reason is that many of the contributors seem prone to seriously misunderstanding the left. Ryan, for instance, describes liberals as quasi-marxists who want complete egalitarianism while Rob Koons defines conservativism and liberalism in such an imbalanced way that the pacifists who were concerned that nuclear war might wipe humanity off the face of the earth were paradigmatic conservatives. Even when their claims about liberals vs. conservatives are less far-fetched, they still seem to mostly be a distraction. I am much more interested in what Goss thinks about the value of rootedness than with what he thinks about whether conservatives are more likely than those on the left to recognize its value. Overall, though, the signal-to-noise ratio is high enough to add Right Reason to my list of regular reads, and I wish them the best of luck at producing quality posts from a conservative point of view and attracting eyes to those posts.