Intellectual WIN and Intellectual FAIL

First, the WIN:

Scientists have the first hints of life from a lake long trapped beneath tons of Antarctic ice.

Water retrieved from subglacial Lake Whillans contains tiny cells, and they respond to DNA-sensitive dye, Discover magazine reported. This initial test is a good sign the lake may harbor life. Further experiments in Antarctica, and with samples shipped back to the United States, will reveal whether the microscopic cells are truly alive.

Working out of shipping containers stationed above the lake, a U.S. team pulled its first samples of mud and water Monday, making the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling mission a success, the researchers said on the WISSARD project’s website. […]

Though Lake Whillans is entombed in ice, it is not as isolated as deeper lakes such as Ellsworth and Vostok. Flowing streams between the bottom of the ice and bedrock bring fresh water, mud and sand into the Whillans basin. But researchers with WISSARD think the small lake (just 1.2 square miles, or 3 square kilometers, in area) has not had direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

Bottom line: life can exist in extremes from the hot vents on ocean floors to icy water.

This has interesting consequences for abiogenesis.

Now the FAIL
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal pushed for school vouchers that include religious schools. Well, some previous supporters were onboard…until they learned that such vouchers wouldn’t be restricted to schools from their own religion!

WATSON — Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.
“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.
“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.
Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”
HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups.
During debate over the MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) funding formula, Hodges learned more about the consequences of the educational changes. She voted against the new MFP funding formula; Schexnayder voted for it.
“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

Oh well….the smaller the area that a politician represents, the more likely he/she is to be a wacko.


February 1, 2013 - Posted by | biology, civil liberties, education, evolution, science

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