#2 The Beginning part 2

Part of an ongoing serial story

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Niko followed silently behind Mrs. Stone, but his mind was agitated. He turned over her few words in his mind, much like a jackdaw would look for jewels among pebbles. What did she mean by saying only a fortunate few are welcomed here? Hadn’t he decided on his own to take Bruiser’s dare? No one invited him! Rather than get another beating, or worse, make his mother worry, he’d decided to just get it over a knock on the door of the strange old house. He didn’t really believe the stories that said people had gone in and never come out again. Did he?

Mrs. Stone turned in mid-stride, as if jerked around by Niko’s doubts and said, rather sharply, “I’ll not have you fretting, boy, for this house is a harmless as she comes. No one is ever held against their will. You are free to come and go as you will.”

‘B-b-but why am I h-h-here?” Niko managed to stutter.

“Well, I don’t know,” she said crisply, shaking out her skirts and turning to go on. “The house hasn’t told me yet. This way please.”

After a few more corridors (Niko had lost count) they stopped in front of a big black oak door with Niko’s name on it!!! This is too weird! I am outta here first chance.

Mrs. Stone swung the door wide onto a teen-aged boy’s Fantasy Island. Game consoles with comfortable swivel chairs, the best bluetooth head sets, game controllers and joysticks, mouse pads and and webcams. And one of his favorite games was already loaded and ready to play. He barely noticed the large bed and easy chair in the corner, but he did take note of the door and windows opposite their entry point. They didn’t appear to be locked.

“Well?” Mrs. Stone smiled.

Niko shifted uncomfortably. “I’m going to have tell my mom where I am. Then I’ll come back. For a while. To see.”

“So we’ll see you at dinner then,” said Mrs Stone, nodding her approval. “Just knock on the door and someone will answer and bring you to the dining room. You’ll get to meet the others then.” She turned backed and added, “Oh, and give my love to your mother, please. She was such a sweetheart during her stay here. Always looking out for other people. I expect she still is.”

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Not A Simple Question

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I have come to a conclusion. Perhaps if I had thought about it more carefully at first I would not be surprised. But it has only recently occurred to me that a great deal of the disturbance about evolution—yes, no, theistic, atheistic, guided, unguided, young earth, old earth, Darwinist , near- neutralist, whatever! is about human origins. Where did WE come from? Are we descended from primates or not? And what did God have to do with it?

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Is This Any Way To Run A City?

The Mystery of Energy Metabolism

The Hidden City Continued

Biologists argue about which came first, metabolism or replication, or in other words, enzymes or DNA. Other biologists try to square the circle by saying, “We can have both at the same time with RNA.” But there is something missing from all three scenarios, without which they won’t get far. Both metabolism and replication require a means to store and transfer energy.

Modern day cells use a molecule called ATP for this process: adenosine triphosphate. It is related structurally to one of DNA’s building blocks: adenine. Compare their structures. Adenine is a base (double ring structure in orange). Add a sugar to it and it becomes adenosine. Add a phosphate to that and you have a nucleotide. Add two more phosphates, and you have ATP. Adenosine triphosphate.

Ho hum you say. What is so interesting about that?

Think of in this way. You have a computer system that stores its information in codes of four instead of two. Not 0s and 1s, but As, Cs, Ts, and Gs. Adenine is the A. One part of the code. Now imagine you take your computer hardware that does the encoding for A, whatever it is, stick a sticky bit on it, and a rechargeable battery, and suddenly you can light campfires and suck the power from light bulbs.

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#1 The Beginning

Part of an ongoing serial story

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There once was an old woman with a magical house. Every now and again the house would grow a new room, and the old woman would know it was time to expect guests. She never knew who would come, or when, just that some day there would be someone in need of that room, and it was her sacred duty to keep it ready for them.

She and the house had an odd sort of relationship, almost symbiotic. The house needed her as much as she needed the house. I was never sure where the magic came from for those extra rooms, but my guess is that it was from the bond between them. She needed guests to be happy, so the house supplied them.

As you might expect, after years of organic growth the house was a great shambling thing sprawled across a hillside, like something from one of those magical Japanese movies. In fact, the house was so odd it was a wonder anyone ever dared approach it seeking help. But I guess word had got around that the place was safe after all.

So that’s why Niko turned up on a Friday. Trying to look nonchalant, he lifted the old-fashioned door-knocker, only to have the door swing wide. Inside was a cheery little parlor with a fire blazing on the hearth and the old lady knitting a great shawl in one of those bright colors whose names never seem to match the color themselves, like puce or vermillion. “What an odd color!”said Niko out loud, before he could help himself.

“Do you think so?” The old lady peered at the shawl. “I have wondered myself. But this is what Mrs. Oddsworthy asked for specifically. She does have the most extraordinary taste.” She stopped, laid aside her knitting and rose. ‘Oh, but do come in. I am Mrs. Stone. I see you have been invited. I have just the room for you.”

Niko’s mouth, which had gaped a bit during this last bit, hurriedly shut, then opened again and said, ” I don’t know what you mean. Invited?”

Poetry and Philosophy

It might seem odd to introduce a poem by pointing toward a blog on philosophy, but when the poem and the blog are read the connection will be clear.

I deal in controversy, in discourse that is sometimes freighted with more than disagreement. So I wrote the poem on this page 40 years ago while a graduate student, based on a sharp disagreement I had with a friend. She believed one thing and I believed another, and the two could not both be true.

It seems now that my life deals in this situation even more, only the rhetoric and emotions are are stronger, more caustic even.

How are we to deal with this conflict?


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CC BY-ND 2.0

https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2010/08/oppy-on-disagreement-part-3.html

What does epistemology have to say about solving disputes?

“As can be seen, there is no single correct response or strategy to take toward actual cases of disagreement. The unsurprising irony is that the epistemology of disagreement has managed to give rise to a whole new set of disagreements.”

And then, after discussing religious disputes, the articles comes to this conclusion:

 “disagreement must be dealt with in the ordinary way: I’ll state reasons, provide arguments and pinpoint evidence, and you’ll do the same.”

On Truth

The line twixt truth and lies is difficult to see-
It winds and doubles, blurs the mind,
And vanishes unseen.
How then as mortals who would hope
To know the truth can we
Presume to judge on simple lines and clean?
 
I had a friend who spoke her truth
That was no truth to me.
Whose lies were these, and where
The line to separate between?
For just as I, with pain, had grasped
My truth, she held to what she knew.
 
And with our private truths like whips
We flailed, to find the root
Of discord and of pain.
No hope in that: the pain did not
Delineate, our differences remained,
And Truth lay somewhere, savaged, in between.

Cellular Self-Sacrifice

A astrocyte (kind of glial cell that provides nutrients to neurons) stained for particular proteins. The purple blue ovals are the nuclei where the DNA is.

We naturally think of death as something awful, a scourge to be dreaded and put off for as long as possible. But biological death has its positive side. Think of self-sacrifice—death for the good of others. That kind of death we think of as altruistic, even noble, attributing it to heroes or saints. And most of us don’t realize that such self-sacrifice is written into our bodies, at the deepest levels of our being.

The process is called apoptosis, in which cells kill themselves from within. It is not death due to overwhelming damage—that’s another process and called by another name. Rather it is a programmed process whereby cells self-destruct. They shred their DNA, internal organelles (specialized parts of cells) condense, and membranes bleb (blister). Then scavenger cells come by and clean up the remnants for recycling.

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