In order to recreate this molecular crowding, Stano added a chemical called POPC to the dilute solution. Fatty molecules such as POPC do not mix with water, and when placed into water they automatically form liposomes. These have a very similar structure to the membranes of living cells and are widely used to study the evolution of cells.
Stano reports in the journal Angewandte Chemie that many of these liposomes trapped some molecules of the assembly. But remarkably, five in every 1,000 such liposomes had all 83 of the molecules needed to produce a protein. These liposomes produced large amount of GFP and glowed green under a microscope.
Computer calculations reveal that even by chance, five liposomes in 1,000 could not have trapped all 83 molecules of the assembly. Their calculated probability for even one such liposome to form is essentially zero. The fact that any such liposomes formed and that GFP was produced means something quite unique is happening.
Stano and his colleagues do not yet understand why this happened. It may yet be a random process that a better statistical model will explain. It may be that these particular molecules are suited to this kind of self-organisation because they are already highly evolved. An important next step is to see if similar, but less complex, molecules are also capable of this feat.
Regardless of the limitations, Stano's experiment has shown for the first time that self-assembly of molecular machines into simple cells may be an inevitable physical process. Finding out how exactly this self-assembly happens will mean taking a big step towards understanding how life was formed.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
One of the reasons for being glad to be as old as I am is that I may be spared living to see a race war in America. Race wars are often wars in which nobody wins and everybody ends up much worse off than they were before.
Initial skirmishes in that race war have already begun, and have in fact been going on for some years. But public officials pretend that it is not happening, and the mainstream media seldom publish it at all, except in ways that conceal what is really taking place.
Sadly, what happened in Milwaukee and Chicago were not isolated incidents. They were part of a pattern repeated in dozens of cities, located in every region of the country. Colin Flaherty's book, which is subtitled "The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It," reveals this pattern in painful detail.
It would be easy to simply dismiss Kersey as a racist. But denouncing him or ignoring him is not refuting him. Refuting requires thought, which has largely been replaced by fashionable buzz words and catch phrases, when it comes to discussions of race.
Thought is long overdue. So is honesty.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
I am not conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Every fall break I have gone to campaign for liberal causes, and as an underclassman I was on the board of the Columbia University Democrats. But the more time I spend in class the more sympathy I have for conservatives, not necessarily for their beliefs, but for the position they have in public discourse at Columbia. My perspective may be skewed since I am a Middle Eastern studies major, but in my classes it is taken for granted that the set of liberal positions is a list of objective truths. I don't think it is funny when professors crack jokes about the IQs of Republicans. It makes it more difficult to have genuine political discussions at best, and it perpetuates the stereotype of the Ivy League as a circle-jerk of liberalism at worst.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Before we march the Tea Party off to the Guillotine, let's remember what fired up that unruly crew to begin with. In the midst of the economic crisis, the government went on a spending spree, shelling out hundreds of billions for TARP, Cash for Clunkers, the Stimulus – the list seemed endless. Our nation's debt and deficits soared; the financial crisis became a fiscal crisis.And then came Obamacare. President Obama's signature healthcare bill promised even higher deficits (no one but Paul Krugman believed you could provide free healthcare to 30 million people and save money), more government intrusion, and possible chaos. The Tea Party was born.
Few deny that our government should help the truly needy. Many agree, moreover, that every American should have access to healthcare. However, the majority of Americans who were content with their doctors and insurance programs fear that Obamacare will damage our superb healthcare infrastructure.
Many also imagine that the cost of Obamacare will be considerably greater than advertised. In part, excess expenditures may derive from lax supervision. To again quote Dr. Coburn, "We have a new program coming out, the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare, and there's no income verification at all. So we know that's going to get defrauded to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, so why would we continue to do the same thing that put us in trouble that we're in?"
The program could also cost more than expected because it is fatally flawed. Some hint that Obamacare's potential economic problems come from the frantic effort to sign up healthy young people. While we have heard breathless tales of the millions who have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to log onto the government websites, we have heard little about what kinds of people have actually signed up.
Anecdotal evidence points to those receiving subsidies being top of the list; it is possible that the undoing of Obamacare is even now taking place. If the Tea Party had a little more patience, the country might end up standing with them. At the least, they might spare them the guillotine.
Sunday, October 06, 2013
Indeed, studies show that taking responsibility is one of the key traits people expect from a leader. In one 2006 study, two researchers at the University of Kent in England conducted a laboratory experiment in which human subjects in a group were given money and a choice: They could either keep it all or contribute some portion to a "group fund" that would be doubled and divided equally between all participants. Some people cooperated for the good of all, while others did not.
In a second phase of the experiment, the participants were asked who would be the best leader for the group. Eighty percent of the time, they chose the person who had contributed the most to the fund in the first phase. When people can choose the people who will lead them, they prefer people who proactively take responsibility for group welfare.
This brings us to the current debate over the shutdown of the federal government. The conventional narrative is that conservative policymakers are holding the nation hostage and hamstringing the helpless president.
Americans will likely see through this. A majority dislikes the current Republican strategy, but they know that ultimate culpability lies with leadership at the top. This sorry episode will reinforce the growing perception of the president as a leader who is more comfortable denouncing subordinates for disagreement than in taking responsibility.
Obama's image as a strong leader has dropped like a stone since 2009. A month after his first inauguration, a CBS News/New York Times poll found 85% of Americans said the president had "strong qualities of leadership."
By January 2010, just 66% in a Quinnipiac poll said the president had "strong leadership qualities." In the very same poll Tuesday, only 53% gave this response. A few weeks earlier, a Fox News poll about foreign policy found that only 42% of Americans say Obama is "a strong and decisive leader."
Some of this no doubt reflects the bitter partisanship of our times. But some of it is also logically due to a growing sense that the president is unwilling or unable to take responsibility in difficult circumstances and blames others instead. Indeed, half of Americans currently say he "spend[s] too much time blaming others," according to the Fox News poll cited above.
Is this assessment fair? Sample his public pronouncements and judge for yourself. Just this week, he washed his hands of the government shutdown by asserting that Republicans alone are "shutting down the government over an ideological crusade."
Bookworm Room � The House’s refusal to fund Obamacare is entirely constitutional — and James Madison personally approves this message
My stock response to all those liberal Facebook friends who have insisted that the House is "unconstitutionally" holding Obamacare hostage, is that the Founders named it the "House of Representatives" and gave it the power of the purse for a reason.And there's also this:
The above response came off the top of my head. If I had studied the Federalist papers recently, however, I could simply have quoted James Madison. one of the Constitution's primary architects, writing in Federalist No. 58 (and a groveling h/t to Tom Elias, of The New Editor, for this brilliant find):
The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure. (Emphasis added.)What the House is doing is entirely constitutional, and we conservatives should be doing our best to trumpet that fact. Moreover, given the federal takeover of the Lincoln Memorial, we should remind everyone that we live in a nation guaranteed "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Unlike a monarchy, the federal government doesn't own the properties it is denying us. Instead, we own the federal government. The government is merely a caretaker, and a pretty damn surly, ineffectual, greedy, and tyrannical one at that.
In a Bench Memos post, my friend Matt Franck objects to the contention in my column for last weekend that the Constitution's Origination Clause (Art. I, Sec. 7) gives the House of Representatives primacy over spending as well as taxing. Matt claims that my interpretation is bereft of historical support, a defect I'm said to camouflage by an extravagant reading of an "at best . . . ambiguous" passage in Madison's Federalist No. 58.
It is Matt's history, though, that is incomplete. As Mark Steyn observes, there is a rich Anglo-American tradition of vesting authority over not merely taxing but also spending in the legislative body closest to the people. This tradition, stretching back nearly to the Magna Carta, inspired the Origination Clause. It also informed Madison, whose ruminations, besides being far from ambiguous on the House's power of the purse, are entitled to great weight — not only because he was among the Constitution's chief architects but also because his explication of the Framers' design helped induce skeptics of centralized government and its tyrannical proclivities to adopt the Constitution.
Plainly, Matt is correct that the Origination Clause refers to "bills for raising revenue." From the time it was debated at the Philadelphia convention, however, the concept at issue clearly referred to more than tax bills. It was about reposing in the people, through their most immediately accountable representatives, the power of the purse. Indeed, the term persistently used throughout the Framers' debates was "money bills" — the phrase used by Elbridge Gerry, perhaps the principal advocate of the Origination Clause, when (as the debate records recount) he "moved to restrain the Senatorial branch from originating money bills. The other branch [i.e., the House] was more immediately the representatives of the people, and it was a maxim that the people ought to hold the purse-strings."
...The Heritage Foundation's Guide to the Constitution, for example, notes that the clause was meant to be "consistent with the English requirement that money bills must commence in the House of Commons." Traditionally, that requirement aggregated taxing with spending — the "power over the purse" — which the Framers sought to repose "with the legislative body closer to the people."
Similarly, the Annenberg Institute for Civics, in its series on the Constitution, instructs students that the Clause means "the House of Representatives must begin the process when it comes to raising and spending money. It is the chamber where all taxing and spending bills start" (emphasis added)...
The problem is, though, the Republicans don't seem to remember their pledge to the Constitution.
• "It'll mark the 40th vote by the Republican-controlled House to repeal some or all of the law. Such measures have died in the Democratic-controlled Senate." (Associated Press)
• "House Republicans have now voted 41 times to repeal ObamaCare, knowing each time that those bills would go nowhere in the Senate." (Huffington Post)
Just one problem: Twenty percent of those bills made it to Obama's desk and secured his signature.
Obama signed House bills to kill a costly ObamaCare reporting rule, terminate its long-term care insurance program and repeal the "free choice voucher" program. He also signed bills cutting funds for the so-called CO-OP program, a public health slush fund and other ObamaCare programs.
Two other House-passed bills — one to end the Independent Payment Advisory Board and another terminating the medical device tax — have strong bipartisan support. Another simply codified the employer mandate delay Obama himself had already ordered.
Yet the media pretend these things never happened. This is admittedly a little thing. But as the Good Book says: "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones."
Friday, October 04, 2013
I concluded that the Journal had fallen into the common error of “verbatim reporting”, another way of saying that the two reporters bylined on the article had done nothing more than take the UN news release regarding the “summary report” of this week’s fifth “Assessment Report” (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and then embellished it with a few calls to people identified as experts or spokespersons.
This isn’t journalism. It’s public relations. I know because I practiced both of these magical arts for many years. All governments, all institutions, all organizations, and all enterprises of every description practice public relations. The job of journalists, however, is to lend some balance to the claims or to expose outright lies.