Tragedy AND Hope in Detroit

As I’m sure many other Americans have felt, I have been really saddened by the continued bad news about Detroit, Michigan. I remember when I was a teenager, Detroit was a hub of manufacturing, cool automobiles, and culture-shaping music. Henry Ford first capitalized on the assembly line manufacturing method in Detroit, which eventually became known as “the motor city.” “Motown” music was birthed and thrived there, and Detroit’s various physical and cultural products were exported around the globe.

Now, thanks to over forty years of “progressivism” in its government, the city has been devastated financially, physically, and culturally. Detroit recently became the largest city in history to declare total bankruptcy. Businesses have abandoned the city in droves. Current government estimates are that over 63% of its original population have left the city, never to return. City services are so stretched for resources that emergency services like fire and police 911 calls now routinely take over an hour to respond, and some parts of the city are so dangerous that even police officers routinely refuse to enter them. Videos of those parts look like bombed-out war zone news coverage of WWII.

Many are now pointing to Detroit as a harbinger of what is to become of the entire United States if it continues down the Progressivism path that the current administration has put us on. The unsustainable level of Federal spending, government largesse, and exponential increases in intrusive Federal control could very well turn the entire nation into another Detroit.

However, at least one new business has been birthed in the middle of Detroit’s tragedy — some may say even as a result of it. Shinola Watchmaking Company was started by an optimistic entrepreneur who saw a great opportunity for the assembly-line workforce to be employed in a similar process on a much smaller scale, making quality watches and timepieces.

Please review BOTH videos below. The first is a heart-rending report of the status of Detroit and what it may mean for the future of the U.S.  The second is an encouraging report about Shinola.

What Progressivism has Done to Detroit

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Detroit Chosen for Watchmaker’s American Dream

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Visualizing human development from conception to birth

[I]n a recent TED presentation, technical/medical artist Alexander Tsiaras dazzled his audience with an amazing visual journey. Using state-of-the-art medical sensing and scanning devices, powerful computer technology, and his largely self-taught but nonetheless stunning artistic abilities, he has created an animation that documents the full development of the initial conception of a human being through his or her birth event.

One of his comments early in the talk really stuck with me, as he was discussing the structure of collagen and how it is arranged in the human body, “… it was hard not to attribute divinity to it.” He uses words like “marvel” and “wonder” when describing what he discovered and modeled on the way to producing this piece.

You can read a biography about Tsiaras here:
http://www.washingtonspeakers.com/speakers/biography.cfm?SpeakerID=6284

Please watch this 9-minute video and marvel, as I did, at the Creator’s handiwork in making you, me, and all of our fellow human beings, from the instant of conception until our birth.

(10 minutes)

Discussing Christian apologetics among the learned

Matt Crouch hosted a lively 2-hour discussion on the TBN broadcast this week among a panel of learned scholars. One of my strongest initial reactions to it was the civility of the tone and demeanor of the discussants. Unfortunately, these types of forums all too often quickly turn into bitter arguments laced with ad hominem attacks by at least one or more of the participants against one or more of the others, especially when the facts of the physical events and timing of the creation of the universe and of the earth are part of the topics of discussion.

This discussion, however, was fairly and evenly moderated, and all participants made good points while remaining professional and civil in their approach and tone. My congratulations go out to all of them for this outcome.

If Christian apologetics interest you at all, then I encourage you to invest the two hours in listening to this enlightening discussion. Full disclosure: I am a certified volunteer apologist for Reasons to Believe, the organization founded and presently led by on of the panelists, Dr. Hugh Ross, and I am one of the chapter leaders for the Kansas City chapter of that organization.


Using dance in place of PowerPoint to illustrate complex concepts?

I just saw a fascinating presentation about creating more powerful presentations by NOT using PowerPoint. Indeed, the talk illustrates the point by using live dancers on the stage with the presenter to help illustrate the points of the message. The speaker, John Bohannon, is a microbiologist, and has started a contest called “Dance Your PhD,” encouraging science researchers to employ professional dancers when speaking or illustrating their concepts to a live audience. Search for this term on www.youtube.com and see some of the winning entries.

I think you will enjoy and appreciate this TED talk.

Amazing healing for moms from fetal cells – automatically!

This article is a fascinating report that scientists are discovering that fetal cells actually migrate into the mother’s body during pregnancy. Many of these are fetal stem cells, which seem to migrate to areas of the mother’s body that may be abnormal or damaged and actually work wonderful healing activity at the site. Even more amazing is that these cells appear to remain active for decades, if not the entire lifetime of the mother, for ongoing healing benefits for the mother!

Read the entire article here:

Unborn child just a ‘parasite’? Cutting edge science shows fetal cells heal mother for life

Here is an informative NPR radio broadcast about the topic:

Babies’ Cells Linger, May Protect Mothers

Can you imagine?

What was it like for God to observe the initial building materials of the universe, before even a single star or planet came into existence? How did He perceive the history to come, which He already fully knew? What was it like to envision a perfect future for us as imperfect beings that He created? How could that be a “good” creation? But He indeed declared it so. And he is graciously and lovingly allowing us to experience it, with His greater purposes at work all the while.

I wanted to share this video that asks those questions and more. Please watch and ponder.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQY1aR-Hdos

3D Scanning on a grand scale, for grand purposes

[I]n an earlier post I wrote about the new technology of 3D printers, by which solid 3D objects can be scanned and reproduced faithfully. I just recently discovered an additional new 3D scanning technology that can scan entire archeological sites with amazing accuracy. Its inventor, Ben Kacyra, is applying it to the recording and preservation of what he calls “heritage sites,” such as Mt. Rushmore. He has recently launched an initiative to complete 500 such projects of worldwide significance during the next five years. He recounts a story of how his team had only recently completed the recording of an ancient African tomb, only to have it destroyed soon thereafter by suspected arsonists. Because of his organization’s efforts, the site is being considered for an accurate reconstruction and restoration project.

My thoughts immediately went to applications for recording, preserving, and sharing for education the most significant sites of biblical archaeology, particularly those at highest risk to destruction or loss for various reasons.

I applaud and marvel at the scale, intricacy, and intentions of this notable and worthy project. Be sure and watch until the very end, when a “live” scan of the presentation room and audience is revealed! Enjoy!

Studying life-like but nonliving chemistry for inferences about life and how it works

[A]t a recent TED conference, researcher Martin Hanczyc gave an intriguing report on his work of creating and studying what he calls “protocells.” He believes that these nonliving chemical packages exhibit some characteristics of living cells, and indeed that does appear to be true. At the beginning of his talk he gives a nice overview of the fundamental charateristics we expect to see in a living organism:

  • A body
  • A metabolism
  • Inheritable information

The first two characteristics might be further operationalized as Movement and Replication. Hanzyzc adds that satisfying each of these characteristics could lead to Evolution, a notion he presents without qualification. I would say that a given, truly living system might be expected and/or enabled to adapt to some aspects of its environment (i.e., microevolution), but many of us who espouse a literal creation model (regardless of the time over which the creation of living creatures occurred) would reject the notion of mutating and changing into entirely new kinds of organisms (i.e., macroevolution), to which Hanczyc appears to be alluding, or at least leaving the door open. Nonetheless, I found his presentation of his findings interesting. He demonstrates how some very simple chemical assemblages (that he is very careful to stress that are strictly nonliving) do indeed exhibit some “behaviors” (in a chemical sense) that closely approximate the first two characteristics of forming bodies and turning resources into motion (i.e., a “metabolism”). And then he even shows us one experiment where the chemical assemblies appear to replicate.

He presents these findings in a very matter of fact way that I find engaging and honest. Although he didn’t take it in this particular direction, it would appear to me that his work might be engaged by honest and ethical researchers to create some testable theory about the viability of certain kinds of postulated synthesis of living material from nonliving material, at least at the chemical level. As such, it seems to be much more useful than the now infamous Miller/Urey experiment reported in 1953, which is now mostly viewed as insignificant due to it now-understood incorrect assumptions about early earth chemistry. However, a careful observer will note that Hanczyc may be precipitously close to having similar assumptions his work regarding available input chemistry in the early Earth. Nonetheless, I found his work of considerable interest to ponder.

Dr. Fazale Rana of Reasons to Believe has made some important points about studies such as this one from Dr. Hanczyc regarding how such experiments lend credence to the necessity of design for them to be successful. For more reading on this subject I recommend the article, Artificial Life: Ready or not here it comes.

The TED site characterizes the Dr. Hanczyc’s talk this way:

In his lab, Martin Hanczyc makes “protocells,” experimental blobs of chemicals that behave like living cells. His work demonstrates how life might have first occurred on Earth … and perhaps elsewhere too.

 

Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job

[I] have been reading the latest book from Dr. Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job. It is fascinating! Like many people, I’ve always considered Job to be primarily a treatise on patience and longsuffering. While it is indeed a profound study on how one can maintain the perspective that God is in charge no matter what the circumstances in which we find ourselves, Dr. Ross has peeled back the covers to show that there is signficantly more in the book.

First of all, it is quite signficant to note that, according to many scholars, Job is the oldest book of the Bible. Therefore, it predates Genesis, and it is reasonable to surmise that Moses was familiar with its contents when he was inspired to write Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch. When Job, Genesis 1, and the other 24+ chapter-length Biblical accounts of creation are considered in aggregate, it is amazing and enlightening to see how they complement and reinforce a unified, coherent, and consistent account of all the events surrounding the creation of the universe. And as Dr. Ross points out in the new book, there are significant predictions in Job of what scientific researchers would one day discover about the nature and origins of the universe — not the least of which is dark matter, which was only recently discovered and explained within the past few years.

The following is a thought-provoking promotional video for the book. I encourage you to watch the video and then read the book for yourself as soon as possible.

 httpv://youtu.be/7sl0Ln3Ptb8

Ever wonder why the U.N. is so oppressive toward Israel?

[D]id you realize that the United Nations has passed more condemnation resolutions against Israel than against all of the current oppressive world regimes COMBINED? That list of oppressors responsible for murdering millions of human beings within their own borders (during recent years!) includes North Korea, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Cambodia, and China.

An ominous international conference, known as “Durban,” is planned for this fall (September 21) in New York City, where representatives from over 140 nations will work to further the massive U.N. efforts to do away with Israel and discredit the United States as Israel’s major ally. Why is the United States hosting such a heinous gathering?

Check out www.durban3nyc.com for more information. I picked up the following “Truth Bites” on that site:

  • 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs who enjoy full equality in all areas of life.
  • Arab Israelis have more money, education, rights and freedom than other Arabs living in any other country in the Middle East.
  • Arab Israeli women were the first Arab women of ANY country to receive the right to vote.
  • Arab Israelis enjoy a higher level of overall productivity than their neighbors in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and all other Muslim nations, with the exception of the oil kingdoms.
  • It is estimated that 30% of UNCHR’s (the UNHRC’s predecessor) country-specific resolutions were against Israel.
  • In 2006-2007, the UN passed 22 resolutions against Israel, but neglected to form a single resolution regarding the ongoing Darfur genocide in Sudan.
  • More than 17,000 deadly terrorist attacks have been committed by Muslim extremists since 9/11. How many has Israel committed? Zero.
  • Over a thousand civilians have been killed in recent political uprisings and demonstrations in Libya, Egypt and Syria.

These facts don’t point to an oppressive Israel, but rather to a benevolent, democratic Israel suffering at the hands of an oppressive United Nations coalition!

I urge you to watch the following video to gain a sense of perspective, and to heighten your awareness of this continuing threat against Israel.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Mupoo1At8