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While I Was Out: News from the Net

July 17th, 2007 | 3 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

My hiatus last week left me lots of catching up to do. Here are a few items that I found interesting:

Tattoos are going to be easier to remove than ever:

Now scientists at Harvard Medical School, Brown University, and Duke University have engineered safe, permanent, and easily removable tattoo inks, made from tiny microcapsules of natural pigments. Researchers say these inks are designed to be removed with just one laser treatment, and they may also help reduce allergic reactions and other health problems commonly experienced with traditional inks.

When this hits the mainstream, it is going to seriously undercut a lot of parents' chief arguments against children who want to make their bodies a piece of art.

The Art of Goalie Masks

In what other sport do high and low cultures meet like they do in hockey? Not only do players drop the gloves and fight--some of them also get to wear fine art!

If evolution is true, why are there....ugly people?

The adjective is Sharon Begley's, not mine. The reason, it turns out, isn't all that complex:

Evolutionary theory predicts that the unfeeling hand of natural selection would lead to a culling of disadvantageous traits—or, as biologists more delicately phrase it, “depletion of genetic variation in natural populations as a result of the effects of selection.”

But look around, and you’ll see that that has not happened—not in people, and not in wild animals where homely and infirm offspring are born all the time.

Evolutionary geneticists try to explain this paradox by positing that mutations for disadvantageous traits keep popping up no matter how hard natural selection attempts to wipe them out, but in their more honest moments the scientists admit that in real life undesirable traits are way more common than this mechanism would account for; “ugly” mutations just don’t occur that often. In a groundbreaking study, biologists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have figured out why, at least in one species: genes that are good for males are bad for females and, perhaps, vice versa.

The Revenge of the Bridezilla

Is there anything more revealing than the phrase—uttered with a stamping of the foot and a rising of the voice—"my day"? Of course it's not "our day," because the groom is merely an accessory, like a cake topper. The first time a bride-to-be utters the words "my day," I recommend potential bridesmaids and grooms respond, "Mayday."

Read the whole thing for some very entertaining--and more than mildly disturbing--anecdotes. Jan at the ViewFromHer also provides some analysis.

Making Abortion More Difficult

That's what Missouri, my future home, has done by forcing abortion clinics to adhere to the health requirements of other hospitals. Says the aptly named governor Matt Blunt, “I say if [abortion clinics] can’t meet the same basic requirements that other (medical) providers do, then they should shut down.” Indeed.

In related news, John at Verum Serum forsees the future: "We’ve essentially fought a 30 year PR war and won, not because we had a better pitch but because people have figured out the other guys are liars. 4D ultrasound spells the end of abortion on demand." Hopefully.

Men: they aren't women, and vice versa.

We were not created with interchangable parts or traits, nor is it our purpose to duplicate or replace one another.

That's not a happy thought to many, because egalitarian culture resents differences. We believe (wrongly) that differences by their very nature are unequal. History would seem to support this assumption. The sad history of most cultures has assumed that male traits (authority and leadership) are superior to female traits (meekness and service). But that is more a product of human pride than of the created order. In the end, we have no objective standard by which to judge the intrinsic value of differing gifts and abilities.

I'm with him until that last sentence, which seems to slide into relativism. Why not say that the value of such traits are contextualized?

There's more coming, but those should tide you over for now.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.