Report on virtual workshop on origin of life

| 326 Comments

My colleague Gary Hurd has spent much of the last 3 days virtually attending a virtual workshop on the origin of life. The workshop will conclude at 5 p.m. eastern standard time today. Here is Mr. Hurd’s report, which he filed at about noon eastern time:

We have reached day 3 of the NAI Workshop “Molecular Paleontology and Resurrection: Rewinding the Tape of Life.”

The on-line format of the talks has been a standard PowerPoint conference show, with the added attraction on my part that I can talk on the phone or get a favorite beverage as needed. The content has been excellent. I have yet to hear a weak or underprepared talk. Click here for the agenda and abstracts. The workshop was sponsored by NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, but the actual presentations are essentially origin-of-life research, or the evolution of specific metabolic or chemical pathways in microbes.

The talks were occasionally over the head of someone (like me) who reads OOL literature as it relates to the creationist assault on science. But there were several that directly applied to the sort of claims we hear so often from creationists. A few years ago, creationist Mike Behe wrote, “Professor Bottaro, perhaps sensing that the paper he cites won’t be persuasive to people who are skeptical of Darwinian claims, laments that ‘Behe and other ID advocates will retreat further and further into impossible demands, such as asking for mutation-by-mutation accounts of specific evolutionary pathways…’ Well, yes, of course that’s exactly what I ask of Darwinian claims–a mutation-by-mutation account of critical steps (which will likely be very, very many), at the amino acid level.” And Behe then demanded, “…not only a list of mutations, but also a detailed account of the selective pressures that would be operating, the difficulties such changes would cause for the organism, the expected time scale over which the changes would be expected to occur, the likely population sizes available in the relevant ancestral species at each step, other potential ways to solve the problem which might interfere, and much more.”

Well, several papers came very close to meeting Behe’s demands; even the “much more” was available.

I had just one complaint about the overall experience, and that was the chance to discuss the talks with presenters or other audience members. I think it is the hallway discussions that make a real conference work. The purpose of this thread is to discuss the conference and more generally the current status of origin-of-life research, and to show us how abiogenesis is used by creationists to attack science and science education.

326 Comments

I only could grab snippets of the talks, but from what I saw, I was quite impressed both with the presentation format, and the information presented in the talks themselves.

I’m very much looking forward to grabbing permanent copies of some of the talks once they become available.

The only thing that was a problem for me, and likely that’s personal, was that this format makes it a bit too easy to get distracted by other things, and I kinda miss the personal interaction with speakers you get at an “in the flesh” conference.

no chance for followups, either, really.

Still, I think this format has quite a lot going for it. I would not like to see it replace actual conferences, but would very much like to see this as a regular addition.

Does anyone know if this is indeed an experiment in replacement? or is it actually intended to be an add-on experience?

Well, several papers came very close to meeting Behe’s [ridiculous] demands

fixed.

;)

Thank you for this idea.

Such a great workshop! Thanks so much to the organizer who did such a fantastic job, and to NAI for hosting such an awesome event!!

The talks were great. I am glad to see so much in the chat bar - particularly references to related work. It is great to see side discussions in real time. Hopefully the chat will be available to reference later, there was a lot of great information in the chat in addition to in the talks.

To address Ichthyic’s comment, I think the format is intended to be an add-on experience to stimulate discussion and collaboration among researchers at different institutions. However I think the format is great for other reasons. Primarily that 1) It gives a fantastic update of current research in the field and 2) it is accessible to people everywhere - widening the the audience that would normally attend such an event. To reiterate what others have been saying about the workshop - it is certainly not a replacement for conferences where people meet face-to-face and often some of the best conversations occur over coffee or in corridors. Those types of interactions are great for building new collaborations, which is more difficult to do within the format of an online workshop. However, the format is obviously a great addition to the normal routine! (and I do think new collaborations are coming out of the workshop - another great outcome!)

Nice work organizing committee and NAI!

Welcome!

We just got promoted by the NASA coordinators.

Question from my boundless ignorance: the title and announced subject seem mutually contradictory. Origin of life research is one thing and molecular reconstruction quite another. The latter can get us back, at best, to the last common ancestor. But this isn’t anywhere near the origin of life. Were presentations on either one subject or the other, with no attempt to make explicit connection? Or was there actually some way to relate reconstruction efforts to the origin of life, and if so, how would that be done?

A number of papers presented today used the notion of “network connectedness.” But there are several kinds of network connectedness, at least in the graph theory study of networks.

John Harshman said:

Question from my boundless ignorance: the title and announced subject seem mutually contradictory. Origin of life research is one thing and molecular reconstruction quite another. The latter can get us back, at best, to the last common ancestor. But this isn’t anywhere near the origin of life. Were presentations on either one subject or the other, with no attempt to make explicit connection? Or was there actually some way to relate reconstruction efforts to the origin of life, and if so, how would that be done?

Actually there were several papers that projected past the LUCA based on chemistry…

Hi, Wendy Dolci from the NASA Astrobiology Institute central office here. Glad to see this discussion about the Workshop Without Walls! We’ll take note of any suggestions posted, and consider them for next time. Thanks for joining us for the workshop!

I find the abstracts fascinating, but don’t have time during the day to pay attention. Will the full presentations be available at some point?

Thanks.

Man oh man

It was such a great time to spend just listening to scientists talking science.

I spend so much time with creationists that my brain was melting

@Loren Williams

I really enjoyed your talk. It seems to me that the first AAs were the so-called “Miller” amino acids. They are the most readily formed, and for the most part they abotically form in a racemic mix. Leaning heavily on Gramicidin A as a model, why not have racemic peptides form abiotically, and then be “copied” by RNA.

John Harshman said:

Question from my boundless ignorance: the title and announced subject seem mutually contradictory. Origin of life research is one thing and molecular reconstruction quite another. The latter can get us back, at best, to the last common ancestor. But this isn’t anywhere near the origin of life. Were presentations on either one subject or the other, with no attempt to make explicit connection? Or was there actually some way to relate reconstruction efforts to the origin of life, and if so, how would that be done?

Hi John, This is Loren Williams from the meeting. What you are saying is not quite right. For example the aa-synthetases went through a series of gene duplication events prior to luca. The record of those is very clear (see Koonin). So we can resurrect, if we like, aa-synthetases from beyond luca. Everything beyond luca is not washed out. Loren

Wendy Dolci said:

Hi, Wendy Dolci from the NASA Astrobiology Institute central office here. Glad to see this discussion about the Workshop Without Walls! We’ll take note of any suggestions posted, and consider them for next time. Thanks for joining us for the workshop!

I think the schedule was a bit too packed. That is why I thought that this post-conference discussion could be a virtual “barroom,” or hallway chat.

Most of my directly relevant work was the trace element composition of clay. This turns out to matter when we look at the papers regarding minerals and the origin of life.

One question for the presenters of papers regarding montmorillonite and OOL is have you looked at the heavy metal substitution centers in the clay crystal?

I did see much of this and found many of the talks fascinating. Of course, the last one (by Williams) remains the most memorable, perhaps due to a short attention span on my part.

I am left wondering whether anyone has linked the layers of the ribosomal onion to the correction of amino acid insertion errors which, as I recall, is powered by GTP hydrolysis. Which proteins are involved and in which layer is it located? More generally, which new functionalities appear with each layer? Where in the tunnel is it located?

Hi All,

We are noting your comments to improve the format of future workshops - increased discussion time is a top suggestion. Please help us capture others by taking the survey at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ool-www

Gary Hurd said:

@Loren Williams

I really enjoyed your talk. It seems to me that the first AAs were the so-called “Miller” amino acids. They are the most readily formed, and for the most part they abotically form in a racemic mix. Leaning heavily on Gramicidin A as a model, why not have racemic peptides form abiotically, and then be “copied” by RNA.

There is debate about the appropriateness of reductive during the miller experiments. So those miller ratios are not a gold standard.

As one of the organizers of the meeting, I cannot say enough about the people at the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The provided all the infrastructure and expertise, etc.

I’ll second the desire to see the talks posted later if possible. I had to teach during most of hte conference times, and missed a lot of the ones I was really interested in. I did wow my 7th graders with a couple of minutes of a live science conference for the fun of it.

Loren Williams said: There is debate about the appropriateness of reductive during the miller experiments. So those miller ratios are not a gold standard.

Well, the Hadean, early Archean atmosphere, and oceans were at most neutral, with strongly reductive oases.

None the less, Miller’s posthumous publication, Cleaves, H. James, John H. Chalmers, Antonio Lazcano, Stanley L. Miller, Jeffrey L. Bada 2008 “A Reassessment of Prebiotic Organic Synthesis in Neutral Planetary Atmospheres” Orig Life Evol Biosph (2008) 38:105–115

rather makes the redox issue mute.

Well, maybe someone will come along.

Gary Hurd said:

@Loren Williams

I really enjoyed your talk. It seems to me that the first AAs were the so-called “Miller” amino acids. They are the most readily formed, and for the most part they abotically form in a racemic mix. Leaning heavily on Gramicidin A as a model, why not have racemic peptides form abiotically, and then be “copied” by RNA.

Hi Gary, Thanks for the kind words and all your good comments during the meeting. I am not sure people have come up with a plausible mechanism by which peptides can be copied by RNA. The idea we have is RNA makes proto-peptides, and if those peptides confer advantage then that RNA wins and continues to make those peptides. There is no back copying of peptide to RNA. But if you can come up with a mechanism for it, I am all ears.

Loren Williams said: There is no back copying of peptide to RNA. But if you can come up with a mechanism for it, I am all ears.

Point taken!

A few years ago, creationist Mike Behe wrote, “Professor Bottaro, perhaps sensing that the paper he cites won’t be persuasive to people who are skeptical of Darwinian claims, laments that ‘Behe and other ID advocates will retreat further and further into impossible demands, such as asking for mutation-by-mutation accounts of specific evolutionary pathways…’ Well, yes, of course that’s exactly what I ask of Darwinian claims–a mutation-by-mutation account of critical steps (which will likely be very, very many), at the amino acid level.” And Behe then demanded, “…not only a list of mutations, but also a detailed account of the selective pressures that would be operating, the difficulties such changes would cause for the organism, the expected time scale over which the changes would be expected to occur, the likely population sizes available in the relevant ancestral species at each step, other potential ways to solve the problem which might interfere, and much more.”

I just love the irony in Behe’s “demands.”

With the billions of examples of evolving systems from all of chemistry and physics; and with all the examples that have been elucidated in biological systems already, Behe thinks this isn’t good enough (and even said so at Dover).

It is amazing that Behe doesn’t seem to understand that, given all of what we already know, it is Behe and the ID/creationist gang that are under the gun to find the “laws of physics and chemistry” that prohibit continued evolution right on up to living, replicating systems.

Given all the billions of possibilities that the science community can think of, it is entirely reasonable to explore as much of what we can to narrow the possibilities.

Instant gratification may be the central focus of ID/creationism and its practitioners, but it has never been a part of real science. Real scientists work.

Great experience! I “attended” most of the talks, and will try to find the video for the ones I missed. Some talks were better than others, of course. Some presenters make complicated material simple, and some make material more complicated than it needs to be. I feel that speakers should do a better job of providing background information early in the talk for those of use less familiar with the material. Some were very good about this, and some just jumped into their data. A well made slide can make all the difference.

JGB said:

I’ll second the desire to see the talks posted later if possible. I had to teach during most of hte conference times, and missed a lot of the ones I was really interested in. I did wow my 7th graders with a couple of minutes of a live science conference for the fun of it.

I am so glad that you did this! What did they think? Perhaps next time we should include a session -only- for the young science enthusiasts :) Thank you very much.

I did many years of clay trace element chemistry- all before STM. What I would do today would be a trace element analysis of montmorillonite to identify reaction sites. Then I’d look at marine clays like attapulgite.

Betul Arslan said:

JGB said:

I’ll second the desire to see the talks posted later if possible. I had to teach during most of hte conference times, and missed a lot of the ones I was really interested in. I did wow my 7th graders with a couple of minutes of a live science conference for the fun of it.

I am so glad that you did this! What did they think? Perhaps next time we should include a session -only- for the young science enthusiasts :) Thank you very much.

Well, I am a young 60 year old. ;-)

But you both are totally correct. The best way to teach science is to show students how to do science, and how scientists really deal with colleagues. There was a classic exchange yesterday on the chat window, where two researchers traded their PNAC publications back and forth at each other.

John Hewitt said:

I did see much of this and found many of the talks fascinating. Of course, the last one (by Williams) remains the most memorable, perhaps due to a short attention span on my part.

I am left wondering whether anyone has linked the layers of the ribosomal onion to the correction of amino acid insertion errors which, as I recall, is powered by GTP hydrolysis. Which proteins are involved and in which layer is it located? More generally, which new functionalities appear with each layer? Where in the tunnel is it located?

The tunnel begins at the PTC where the CCA ends of the A site and P site tRNAs meet and then contiues to the back of the ribosome where it emerges to be greated by the signal recognition particle and trigger factor. Ribosomal protein L29 and L39e are near the exit. The tunnel length is about 93 Angstroms long and the tunnel “wall” is mostly RNA

Loren Williams -

Okay, I know you’re long gone, but I wanted to say that I did check out that tree of life with extinct species included, and I found it to be incredibly interesting, insightful, sobering, and profound.

For my fellow end-of-the-threaders who are still here, here is the link Loren originally provided, in case you didn’t see it. http://web2.uconn.edu/gogarten/

Gary Hurd -

I rest my case. There is one you have to do it twice to. If I mention his handle he will reappear, but I think you know what I’m talking about.

This is under the background section, last paragraph.

“The first treaty is cited as historical evidence in the modern day controversy over whether there was religious intent by the founders of the United States government. Article 11 of the first treaty has been interpreted as an official denial of a Christian basis for the U.S. government.”

This implies that subsequent, revised treaties omitted Article 11, which is what I’ve stated. Only the original treaty had phrase “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”

NoNick said:

henry said:

Sorry, John,

Either you quoted Dawkin incorrectly or he quoted from the treaty incorrectly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

By the way, since your comment about the Treaty of Tripoli, I found out that subsequent revisions omitted the phrase “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”. Were you aware of that?

Of course henry’s lack of intellectual honesty, or at the very least, reading comprehension prevents him from parsing the following last lines of the Wiki article …

However the Arabic and English texts differ, the Barlow translation (Article 11 included) was the text presented to, read aloud in, and ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate.

Regardless if what you say is true, how does this speak to the “Founders” intent henry ?

Any thoughts ?

*head~desk*

NoNick said:

*head~desk*

In other words, NoNick, you have accurately pointed out that henry totally completely lacks both intellectual honesty AND reading comprehension skills.

No doubt henry thinks that the Founding Fathers were actually a bunch of religious fanatics who wanted to found a theocratic dictatorship where people would be punished with death for not using a literal interpretation of the Bible.

It’s fascinating harold, but they’re just catching up now to what Gould, Raup, Sepkoski, Foote and others have done with data from the fossil record for years now:

harold said:

Loren Williams -

Okay, I know you’re long gone, but I wanted to say that I did check out that tree of life with extinct species included, and I found it to be incredibly interesting, insightful, sobering, and profound.

For my fellow end-of-the-threaders who are still here, here is the link Loren originally provided, in case you didn’t see it. http://web2.uconn.edu/gogarten/

Gary Hurd -

I rest my case. There is one you have to do it twice to. If I mention his handle he will reappear, but I think you know what I’m talking about.

So when are you going to read any of Gordon Wood’s excellent histories, which demonstrate that the United States wasn’t founded on Christian principles, but instead, was a result of the French - and especially Scottish - Enlightenments? It was Wood who demonstrated just how radical in nature the American Revolution was.

Your ignorance of American history, especially around the time of the drafting of the United States Constitution and its immediate aftermath, is woeful to say the least. Both NoNick and Stanton have made virtually the same observation.

What’s with the race card?

John Kwok said:

I suppose henry probably thinks my family fled from some Chinese rice paddies in southern China (Not so, and, in fact, the maternal side of my family has been here in the USA since the mid 1920s; my paternal side is from the North.).

But more to the point I strongly suspect that he doesn’t realize that what prompted Darwin to write “Origin” was the unexpected surprise that Wallace had stumbled upon, independently of Darwin, Natural Selection, which is why that theory is correctly termed the Darwin-Wallace Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection.

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4098

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Of course, the website doesn’t mention that only the original treaty has Article 11, but the revised treaties omit it.

John Kwok said:

In several books, of which maybe the most noteworthy is Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion”, the relevant portion of the Treaty of Tripoli is cited, in which is noted that the United States was not - nor was it ever founded - as a “Christian nation”. But thanks for demonstrating anew that your understanding of American history is as abysmal as your grasp of what is valid mainstream science with respect to biology (at least):

henry said:

By the way, since your comment about the Treaty of Tripoli, I found out that subsequent revisions omitted the phrase “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”. Were you aware of that?

henry said:

Last year, somebody suggested I look up some E. coli research. It involved 20,000 generations of E. coli. I pointed out that it’s still E. coli. I was told I didn’t have enough imagination. Is that what is needed for Muller’s fly experiments, imagination? The flies are still flies.

Once again I think it’s worth pointing out that this is nothing more than a semantic game. Henry’s response amounts to “there is no evolution because I can still use the same name for those creatures that I used for their ancestors”. One might as well say that humans and chimpanzees did not evolve from a common ancestor because I can still call them all “apes”.

It’s the genetic content of the creatures that matters Henry, not what words you choose to call them.

So, for the record, you admit that the original version of the Treaty, ratified unanimously by Congress, clearly and unambiguously stated that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”. Therefore, you admit, irrevocably, that this country was NOT founded on your religion. Case closed. The USA was NOT founded as a “christian nation”, whatever that means, if it means anything at all, and we have clear documentation to prove it.

By claiming that the treaty was later changed, are you trying to argue that the United States was not founded as a christian nation, but was later changed into one? If so, what was the relevant Constitutional amendment, and when was it ratified? Because my copy of the Constitution contains no such amendment.

As always, henry is a lying sack of shit, just like all creationists. He’s also a traitor, just like every theocrat.

henry said:

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4098

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Of course, the website doesn’t mention that only the original treaty has Article 11, but the revised treaties omit it.

John Kwok said:

In several books, of which maybe the most noteworthy is Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion”, the relevant portion of the Treaty of Tripoli is cited, in which is noted that the United States was not - nor was it ever founded - as a “Christian nation”. But thanks for demonstrating anew that your understanding of American history is as abysmal as your grasp of what is valid mainstream science with respect to biology (at least):

henry said:

By the way, since your comment about the Treaty of Tripoli, I found out that subsequent revisions omitted the phrase “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”. Were you aware of that?

Science Avenger said:

henry said:

Last year, somebody suggested I look up some E. coli research. It involved 20,000 generations of E. coli. I pointed out that it’s still E. coli. I was told I didn’t have enough imagination. Is that what is needed for Muller’s fly experiments, imagination? The flies are still flies.

Once again I think it’s worth pointing out that this is nothing more than a semantic game. Henry’s response amounts to “there is no evolution because I can still use the same name for those creatures that I used for their ancestors”. One might as well say that humans and chimpanzees did not evolve from a common ancestor because I can still call them all “apes”.

It’s the genetic content of the creatures that matters Henry, not what words you choose to call them.

But to henry, only the word matters. Reality is irrelevant. Words are not chosen to describe things with any consideration of accuracy, not for creationists. They think the words are magic. The question or definitions doesn’t even enter into their hollow heads.

phantomreader42 said:

But to henry, only the word matters. Reality is irrelevant. Words are not chosen to describe things with any consideration of accuracy, not for creationists. They think the words are magic. The question or definitions doesn’t even enter into their hollow heads.

One might say his mind is hermeneutically sealed …

Because you talk exactly like a racist, on top of talking like a pompous idiot who thinks he knows more about science than actual science.

henry said:

What’s with the race card?

John Kwok said:

I suppose henry probably thinks my family fled from some Chinese rice paddies in southern China (Not so, and, in fact, the maternal side of my family has been here in the USA since the mid 1920s; my paternal side is from the North.).

But more to the point I strongly suspect that he doesn’t realize that what prompted Darwin to write “Origin” was the unexpected surprise that Wallace had stumbled upon, independently of Darwin, Natural Selection, which is why that theory is correctly termed the Darwin-Wallace Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection.

I was going to ask you the same question, dumb ass:

henry said:

What’s with the race card?

John Kwok said:

I suppose henry probably thinks my family fled from some Chinese rice paddies in southern China (Not so, and, in fact, the maternal side of my family has been here in the USA since the mid 1920s; my paternal side is from the North.).

But more to the point I strongly suspect that he doesn’t realize that what prompted Darwin to write “Origin” was the unexpected surprise that Wallace had stumbled upon, independently of Darwin, Natural Selection, which is why that theory is correctly termed the Darwin-Wallace Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection.

Have you opted to start reading any of Gordon Wood’s books? Or even Ken Miller’s “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”, in which Ken lauds his former colleague for some rather useful historical insight on the history of evolution denialism here in the good ol’ USA.

henry said: Of course, the website doesn’t mention that only the original treaty has Article 11, but the revised treaties omit it.

It always comes down to lying with you guys, doesn’t it? I didn’t have to spend more than about 45 seconds googling to figure out where the fundies had misrepresented the truth this time.

1. The arabic-language treaty initially signed by the executive branch may or may not have had a section 11 as written.

2. Some version of this treaty went to Congress. It appears it didn’t have the famous “not a Christian nation…” bit in it.

3. Congress added the famous phrase in open (i.e. verbally debated) session. They voted on the revised treaty in open session, and after a unanimous agreement on the version with the new phrase in it, they ratified it.

4. So, the fundies are essentially claiming that a bit of diplomacy that didn’t become law matters more than the actual treaty that did. Its Santorum amendment/NCLB all over again.

4. The aftermath is unclear to me, but there might have been some additional fiddling with it by the executive branch after it was ratified. But AFAIK, no additional version of it was ratified.

5. The irony in all of this is that the henry’s claim made me look stuff up, and what I found was actually a stronger separation argument than the common one. You see, it turns out that it wasn’t the executive branch that put in the “not a Christian nation” bit. It wasn’t a result of any diplomatic pressure. Nor did it become law because some individual congressman snuck in a document change at the last minute. All of Congress did it, together. The people’s elected representatives went out of their way to make an extra, diplomatically unnecessary statement to the world that we are not a Christian nation.

In my personal experience to date, only racists use the term “race card”.

Despite being strongly progressive and despising unjustified discrimination and unkindness, I am not especially “PC”. But if I do accidentally offend (which does not happen very often to begin with), I don’t start blabbering about some kind of “card”, I apologize.

eric said:

The people’s elected representatives went out of their way to make an extra, diplomatically unnecessary statement to the world that we are not a Christian nation.

You should have bolded this part Eric. Maybe even all-capped AND underlined as well. I’m not sure that would have been enough to get the point into Henry’s thick skull, but at least the issued nail-in-his-argument’s-coffin would have had the proper emphasis.

Just Bob said:

One more time for racist Henry (well, no, he won’t get it, so it’s for anybody else):

Imagine that 2 years ago we had elected a president with the SAME family history as Barack Obama: born in Hawaii to an American mother and a foreign father, a couple of years in childhood spent going to school in another country, family deserted by the father, raised mainly by his grandparents. Assume the same political philosophy and professional career, including election to President vs. John McCain.

Assume all that stuff is the same. Now assume that the absent father was SWEDISH, and the President is blond and blue-eyed and his name is Sven Olsen. Then ask yourself–would there even BE a “Tea Party” or “birthers”? If the candidate and President’s middle name were Joseph (like STALIN, right?), would it have been repeated ad nauseum by right-wing radio and TV hosts? When we’ve had moderate-to-liberal presidents in the past, why was there no “Tea Party” then?

My mother’s favorite (valid) generalization: Republicans may not be racists, but racists are Republicans [and now “Tea Partiers”].

Our current president isn’t moderate-to-liberal.

http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Chief[…]p/1439155089

Your mother was wrong about Republicans–the southern Democrats were the racists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa[…]80%931968%29

During this period, the white-dominated Democratic Party regained political control over the South. The Republican Party—the “party of Lincoln”—which had been the party that most blacks belonged to, shrank to insignificance as black voter registration was suppressed. By the early 20th century, almost all elected officials in the South were Democrats.

The Yale Avalon Project (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_[…]/barmenu.asp) contains text for a number of treaties the United States signed with several Muslim countries. I especially like this Article repeated in almost every treaty; it leaves out any mention of Christian or Muslim religions specifically, but stays close to the intent of the first amendment of the U.S. constitution.

As the Government of the United States of America has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of any nation, and as the said States have never entered into any voluntary war, or act of hostility, except in defence of their just rights on the high seas, it is declared by the Contracting parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of Harmony between the two nations; and the Consuls and agents of both nations, shall have liberty to Celebrate the rights of their respective religions in their own houses.

henry said:

Sorry, John,

Either you quoted Dawkin incorrectly or he quoted from the treaty incorrectly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

Did you read the article? The question is whether the sentence appears in the Arabic version. As the article you yourself linked says, “However the Arabic and English texts differ, the Barlow translation (Article 11 included) was the text presented to, read aloud in, and ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate.”

David Fickett-Wilbar said:

henry said:

Sorry, John,

Either you quoted Dawkin incorrectly or he quoted from the treaty incorrectly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

Did you read the article? The question is whether the sentence appears in the Arabic version. As the article you yourself linked says, “However the Arabic and English texts differ, the Barlow translation (Article 11 included) was the text presented to, read aloud in, and ratified unanimously by the U.S. Senate.”

He’s just desperately trying to hide from the fact that he’s admitted that Congress ratified a treaty that clearly said that his cult does not get to rule the country with an iron fist, and that this fact will not change no matter how much he prays to his imaginary, impotent god.

OK, people, let’s stop whipping a dead horse. Mr. henry has clearly lost, though he is not perceptive enough to realize it, and there is no need to pile on. May I suggest that we either return to something roughly approximating the topic of this thread, or else stop and do something else?

“the southern Democrats were the racists.”

Notice your tense, Henry? WERE

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act (by DEMOCRATS), the Dixiecrats (segregationists) abandoned the Democratic party wholesale and became Republicans (strongly encouraged by Nixon’s “southern strategy”).

If you can’t face the facts of US history, too damn bad.

Where do you find the most racism today? The Deep South

Where is creationism most entrenched? The Deep South.

Which states have the worst poverty and lowest educational scores? The Deep South.

Which are the most solidly Republican states? The Deep South.

Reckon there’s any connection?

Wheew. Matt, the discussion is over. Why not close the thread?

Gary Hurd said:

Wheew. Matt, the discussion is over. Why not close the thread?

I’ll second that.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on November 10, 2010 1:12 PM.

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