Entries from blogs tagged with “Election 2008”

ESPN video highlight


The X files

December 08, 2007Former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon, continues to rewrite the D2 football records books as Northwest Missouri State downs Grand Valley State 34-16 in semi-final game.I hate the cold. I'm such a pansy I've considered moving to Florida to avoid another Midwest winter. However, I sat in 17 degree freezing rain Saturday evening to watch as my favorite football player helped his Northwest Missouri State Bearcats become eligible for their third consecutive Division 2 national championship and I never felt warmer. I've written an article previously about former Lawrence resident, Xavier Omon's bid to set a new NCAA rushing record by gaining over 1500 yards in four straight years at Northwest Missouri State.'s team hosted the Grand Valley State Lakers Saturday night in Maryville, Mo. An estimated crowd of 7296 braved the elements to root for their Bearcats who had fallen to their Grand Valley Lakers counterparts the past two years in the D2 national championship game in Florence, Alabama by a combined total of seven points. As Bearcat coach Mel Tjeersdsma states, ""I'm glad number 2 [Omon] plays for us and not anyone else. We had tremendous effort on both sides of the ball tonight".The excitement at the nationally televised semifinal match was palpable in the frigid Maryville, Mo air. The task to upset the Lakers would not be easy. Grand Valley had won 40 straight games, their last loss coming at the hands of North Dakota in 2004.The game was hard fought from the coin toss Saturday night. Grand Valley scored first and took a 13-10 lead into half-time. The second half clearly belonged to Omon and the rest of the Bearcats. The Bearcats scored 24 points in the second half while holding their opponents to six points. Omon finished the game with 292 total rushing yards and 11 yards receiving. He has now rushed for over 7000 yards in his four years at Northwest Missouri State. Omon scored four touchdowns on the night with the longest being a 98 yard run after Grand Valley State punt pinned Northwest Missouri State down at their own two yard line. Here's a link to an ESPN video highlight of Omon's run, which made one of th Top Ten Plays of the Day on that network's Sportscenter show. the goalposts came down at the Mel Tjeesdsma field in Maryville, elated fans stormed the field as the D2 semifinal championship award was handed down. Omon and his mother, Delorise Omon, embraced at midfield as tears of joy streamed down their faces. As has been customary, Omon shook hands and posed for pictures with many loyal Bearcat fans. As it also customary, Omon gave the credit for his prowess on the field to the offensive line. The stingy defense also held Grand Valley to only 16 points for the game while snagging a game changing interception in the second half.The Bearcats head to Florence, Alabama to take on the other semi-final champions, Valdosta State, who beat California (PA) 28-24 in a game earlier that day.


Now this is really cool.

Today, Gyroduck commenting on a Journal World article, Drawing on God posted a link ( from You Tube explaining a really puzzling aspect of quantum mechanics. Hop on over to view the video. Also read Gyroduck's comment linking the observations discussed in the video to prayer. Is Gyroduck right to make this connection?


Synthetic Life

One of the hottest areas of biology today is synthetic biology. Synthetic biologists are not content to take a gene from one species and insert it into the genetic material of another species.Instead, synthetic biologists are attempting to build a set of standard building blocks often by synthesizing DNA from scratch. The idea is to have a set of modules that can be plugged together to make the biological equivalent of electrical devices.So just as an electrical engineer designs new circuits by plugging together standard parts on a breadboard, the synthetic biologist attempts to create custom organisms by inserting these biological circuits into cells.The field has progressed to the point where there is an annual student competition at MIT dedicated to designing custom devices called iGEM which stands for InternationalGenetically Engineered Machine Competition. The winners of the 2007 competition have just been announced and they include teams that developed applications of synthetic biology to medicine, environmental sensing, energy and information processing.For example a team from Alberta Canada developed a synthetic set of genes involved in the production of butanol, an organic compound that could serve as a fuel alternative to ethanol.A team from University of Missouri at Rolla, the Missouri Miners developed a biological breathalyser and a biological timer.Synthetic biology is in its infancy and the power of this technology is rapidly increasing, much like the power of computers, so that soon synthetic biologists may be able to construct synthetic organisms entirely from scratch!Readers, how is this dangerous in a positive sense? How about the risks?LinksSyntheticbiology.orgSynthetic Life, Scientific American 2004

iGem2007Missouri Miners


Walking Petri Dishes?

Biology is messy. We can't put organisms into neat little boxes and as it turns out, while we think of ourselves as being individual organisms, the truth is a bit more complex. According to an online article from Scientific American, "Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones" , we are probably best thought of as walking petri dishes because of the number and diversity of bacteria that live inside of us. According to the article, scientists used to think that these bacteria were commensals, that is organisms living in or on a member of a different species with out harming or providing much benefit to the "host". But new research reveals that these bacteria interact with us in complex ways and and often significantly benefit us. For instance many of these bacteria appear to help us process our food and help regulate certain aspects of our immune system. So there is a real sense that you and I are really communities of organisms. Now I wonder if the dreaded toe fungus some of us have also benefits us in some way.


Say what?

The name "Dangerous Ideas" comes from a book titled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by the philosopher Daniel Dennett. Dennett's thesis is that the concept of natural selection is a sort of universal acid eating away at our traditional intellectual disciplines well beyond its traditional application as an evolutionary mechanism.Science in general is dangerous to traditional ways of viewing the universe. It transforms us. It breaks down boundaries between traditional areas of thought. It challenges our comfortable preconceptions about reality. And it forces us to think in rational and empirical ways that are foreign to emotional and often irrational way that we process information about the world.I use dangerous here in a positive sense. For me science is a liberating force. It doesn't do away with a sense of wonder, a sense of poetry or wonder. But science does not worship mystery but replaces it with a sense of awe at the quirky creativeness of the universe. This blog will focus on science. I will try to stay away from politics and religion...there are plenty of other blogs that do that including my companion blog at The Force that ThroughSometimes I will cross post entries with "The Force" But that blog tends to be much more explicitly poetic, political and philosophical than what I am planning for this space. Also since biology is my thing, expect a bias toward biology and related areas.


The Natural History Museum

BullSmitty, a Cup O' Joel reader - and who isn't? - sends along the following:"Joel, regarding your call for all things favorite in Lawrence I have one for you. The link after this message is to the KUNatHistoryMuseum YouTube homepage and the video titled "KU Natural History Museum: Highlights" is the one you are looking for. Yes I work there but I applied for the job there because it was/is my favorite place in Lawrence."It's time for me to make some new videos myself. If you've got a video about your favorite thing in Lawrence, let me know.


Into the sunset?

Women can retire at 60 in Europe and receive an "old age pension" as well as a free bus pass, free spectacles in addition to other special deals. A man has to wait until he is 65 for such perks. In America the AARP marked me as a Senior as soon as I hit my fifties and some stores give me a senior discount (wihtout checking ID I might add) but I have to wait until 62 to get a Marriot Senior discount and Social Security.Some people have cynically said that it's hard to tell when Europeans are retired because they take so much vaction anyway. The minimum vacation is 21 working days (which translates into four weeks including the week-ends) and then one has to add the Bank Holidays, which, if strategically placed with vacation can amount to six weeks. Of course, in many jobs, the amount of vacation can be anything from the minimum four weeks to a sensible fourteen weeks a year.Just as I was preparing to take advantage of the "old age pension" from UK and Social Security from the US, I met an 81 year old woman who moved to Lawrence when she was 64 to get a new job. She "retired" at 70, didn't like it, and worked in a Bank until she finally decided enough was enough at 80. She still does volunteer work and looks better than I do even on a good day. She's one of a growing number of seniors in the US who continue working simply because they love their jobs.Is there a way we can strike the balance between these two cultures? I know people who take only a week vacation and spend it cleaning out the garage, or "doing odd jobs around the house." This seems like a recipe for stress-related illness somewhere down the road. However, when I look at those octogenarians who have worked well past retirement age, they seem pretty healthy to me.I would love to hear from those of you who retired in your early sixties or before, and those of you who have worked, or continute to work into your eighties or even nineties.


The Milky Way Woman

I heard about the Milky Way Woman while attending Douglas County's first healing retreat for those people who had lost someone due to suicide.

I have been trying to put a spiritual perspective on my mother's suicide, when I was three, for most of my life. See my article:

While at the retreat, I met a native American Indian woman who had recently lost her sister to suicide. She told me about the belief that the Lakota Indians have. They believe that the Milky Way is the crossroads between heaven and earth and that an old woman, the Milky Way Woman, stands guard at this crossroads. The Milky Way Woman decides when someone dies whether they go to heaven or are sent back to earth depending on how well they lived their life.

After some research, I discovered that several other Indian tribes have a similar belief, and some tribes believe that the light coming from the Milky Way is the campfires of souls as they make their journey to heaven.

The Lakota Indians have an extremely high rate of suicide among their young people.

I dedicate the following poem to the Lakota people, all of those who have lost someone to suicide, and to my mother, Peggy Miller Wiggins.

The Milky Way Woman 11-14-07

When I was three

And you sent me

Out to play in the

Snow while you

Put a bullet through

Your heart

I did not cry

I curled into a ball

And sucked my thumb

When Daddy came

That night and said

Look up into the

Sky and see your

Mommy's face In the stars

I did not look

I did not want

To see your face

So far away

And so small

But now I'm

Grown and have

Children of my own

I want to stand

On the edge

Of the Milky Way

With you, hand in hand

And when the

Milky Way Woman

Gives the command

You and I

Will take that

Leap together

Wait for me

Where do you believe souls go after they leave the physical body?

How is the soul separate from the spirit?

How is the mind separate from the soul?


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