Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thomas Paine and Bob Dylan

Thomas Paine from The Rights of Man
Bob Dylan from Chimes of Freedom

The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man. Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, — and all it wants, — is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness; and no sooner did the American governments display themselves to the world, than despotism felt a shock and man began to contemplate redress.

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

As America was the only spot in the political world where the principle of universal reformation could begin, so also was it the best in the natural world. An assemblage of circumstances conspired, not only to give birth, but to add gigantic maturity to its principles. The scene which that country presents to the eye of a spectator, has something in it which generates and encourages great ideas. Nature appears to him in magnitude. The mighty objects he beholds, act upon his mind by enlarging it, and he partakes of the greatness he contemplates. — Its first settlers were emigrants from different European nations, and of diversified professions of religion, retiring from the governmental persecutions of the old world, and meeting in the new, not as enemies, but as brothers. The wants which necessarily accompany the cultivation of a wilderness produced among them a state of society, which countries long harassed by the quarrels and intrigues of governments, had neglected to cherish. In such a situation man becomes what he ought. He sees his species, not with the inhuman idea of a natural enemy, but as kindred; and the example shows to the artificial world, that man must go back to Nature for information.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

From the rapid progress which America makes in every species of improvement, it is rational to conclude that, if the governments of Asia, Africa, and Europe had begun on a principle similar to that of America, or had not been very early corrupted therefrom, those countries must by this time have been in a far superior condition to what they are. Age after age has passed away, for no other purpose than to behold their wretchedness. Could we suppose a spectator who knew nothing of the world, and who was put into it merely to make his observations, he would take a great part of the old world to be new, just struggling with the difficulties and hardships of an infant settlement. He could not suppose that the hordes of miserable poor with which old countries abound could be any other than those who had not yet had time to provide for themselves. Little would he think they were the consequence of what in such countries they call government.

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretences for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.

As revolutions have begun (and as the probability is always greater against a thing beginning, than of proceeding after it has begun), it is natural to expect that other revolutions will follow. The amazing and still increasing expenses with which old governments are conducted, the numerous wars they engage in or provoke, the embarrassments they throw in the way of universal civilisation and commerce, and the oppression and usurpation acted at home, have wearied out the patience, and exhausted the property of the world. In such a situation, and with such examples already existing, revolutions are to be looked for. They are become subjects of universal conversation, and may be considered as the Order of the day.

My paper is finished!!! - update below

I finally finished the reviewer-suggested revisions for my latest paper. Tomorrow it will be submitted and accepted shortly thereafter. Since some of TG's writer friends appear to be obsessed with word counts, I post this in their honor

Zokutou word meter
4,711 / 4,600

This paper describes the molecular details of how protein toxins active against certain insects (including mosquitos) rearrange their shape to interact with the gut membranes of their target insects which eventually leads to dead insects. The paper is going to appear in a special edition of Proteins: Structure, Function, & Bioinformatics dedicated to my first postdoctoral advisor on the occasion of his 65th birthday. I also decided to dedicate the paper to my recently deceased 2nd postdoctoral advisor who was a dedicated mentor and colleague.

Update - the acceptance letter arrived

Dear Dr. S:

I am pleased to inform you that your manuscript entitled "The
role of a conserved histidine-tyrosine interhelical interaction
in the ion channel domain of [[delta]]-endotoxins from
Bacillus thuringiensis" has been accepted for publication
in the next available issue of PROTEINS: Structure, Function,
and Bioinformatics.

Congratulations on submitting such an excellent study.


Ed Lattman

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Stones

The greatest rock and roll band of all time will be here in January. I missed out on them the last time they were here because I thought the tickets were too expensive - dumb, dumb, dumb. I vowed that if they came back, I would pay whatever the price to see Mick and the boys. Well, tickets went on sale this a.m. to the general public. By the time I remembered, the only tickets left were $95 and at the side of the stage in the middle deck (limited view) or the $160 or $350 seats also at the side of the stage, but supposedly not limited view. My only hope now is that they add yet another show here the next night since this one effectively sold out just after tickets went on sale. I really, really want to see the Stones before they die :o)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reader participation survey

make yourself known (in the comments section).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thomas Paine & Woody Guthrie

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

A continual circulation of lies among those who are not much in the way of hearing them contradicted, will in time pass for truth; and the crime lies not in the believer but the inventor. I am not for declaring war with every man that appears not so warm as myself: difference of constitution, temper, habit of speaking, and many other things, will go a great way in fixing the outward character of a man, yet simple honesty may remain at bottom. Some men have naturally a military turn, and can brave hardships and the risk of life with a cheerful face; others have not; no slavery appears to them so great as the fatigue of arms, and no terror so powerful as that of personal danger. What can we say? We cannot alter nature, neither ought we to punish the son because the father begot him in a cowardly mood. However, I believe most men have more courage than they know of, and that a little at first is enough to begin with. I knew the time when I thought that the whistling of a cannon ball would have frightened me almost to death; but I have since tried it, and find that I can stand it with as little discomposure, and, I believe, with a much easier conscience than your lordship. The same dread would return to me again were I in your situation, for my solemn belief of your cause is, that it is hellish and damnable, and, under that conviction, every thinking man's heart must fail him.

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men; and whoever will be at the pains of examining strictly into things, will find that one and the same spirit of oppression and impiety, more or less, governs through your whole party in both countries: not many days ago, I accidentally fell in company with a person of this city noted for espousing your cause, and on my remarking to him, "that it appeared clear to me, by the late providential turn of affairs, that God Almighty was visibly on our side," he replied, "We care nothing for that you may have Him, and welcome; if we have but enough of the devil on our side, we shall do." However carelessly this might be spoken, matters not, 'tis still the insensible principle that directs all your conduct and will at last most assuredly deceive and ruin you.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stone walls

I built a stone wall today (that's not it in the photo). Well, a "wall" actually implies something large. I'm not certain that a "wall" around a semi-circular shade garden qualifies. This small garden surrounds the large Bradford pear tree just off the deck. Nothing grows in this sunless spot, so I made it into a shade garden. It's always been in dire need of something to hold it in. Plastic edging was the choice the first year. It lasted about a year and a half. The last half of the season last year and this summer the garden has had no walls. As a result, it hasn't had much in the way of plants either - you know, kids, erosion, varmints...

So, as the growing season winds down, I've prepared this latest object of my affection for next year. Now, the premade, concrete blocks of all the same size and shape are of no use to me. No, I need stone carved in shapes by the hands of God himself. So, we set off to the nursery to get just that. Well, I settled for some stones that had been modified ever so slightly by a Missouri road crew. These stones are rectangular in shape, but with enough crooked edges to give them character. They are a nice weathered shade of gray which allows them to stand out just enough, but not too much in the shade.

Building a stone wall is a rather relaxing endeavor - even in the 100 degree heat and humidity of late summer. Digging the border, getting it just level enough to match the uneven contour of each stone, finding just the right match for the next spot so that there are no gaping holes. It's all quite therapeutic. No one builds real stone walls anymore. You get the Home Depot precast squares, all the same sterile color and shape. Sometimes you see a 100+ year old stone wall in a field in New England. These days, most houses are fenced by some nasty-looking wooden privacy fence, or a white picket fence made of, you guessed it, vinyl. Awful. Wouldn't life be much better if everyone had a stone wall instead? Imagine being able to enjoy your neighbor's garden, and their neighbors' flowers, too. Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbors. I suspect he had stone walls in mind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Any day, any place, any person

If I could choose to spend any day in history at any place with any person, it would be September 21, 1941 at Fenway Park in Boston with my PaPa S. watching the Red Sox play the damn Yankees. Since I technically haven't been born, I would choose to be the magical age of 10. We sit out in right field, just beyond Pesky's Pole (even though it isn't known as that at this time). He is wearing a Yankees hat and pulling for his favorite team. I am decked out in a Red Sox cap and teasing him about his team. I tell him that Ted Williams is a much better player than Joe DiMaggio, and he just scoffs, "you don't believe such a thing." He reminds me that Joltin' Joe hit in 56 straight games earlier in the season. I counter with Teddy Ballgame hitting over .400 for the season. We eat at least two bags of warm peanuts. He shells them for me and I eat them faster than he can crack them. He scolds me to slow down so he can have some, too. He tells me what is going to happen on the field before it does, and he is usually right. However, in the 5th inning, he says that Williams is going to strike out. "No way, Papa, he's going to hit a homerun." Sure enough, the pitch ends up out in right field, 3 rows away from us. Teddy Ballgame drives in 2 runs. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-1. My team wins and I'm excited. And even though PaPa has been a Yankees fan his whole life, he's glad that my team won today anyway. We get on the bus and ride back to his home glad that we could spend another day at the ballpark together.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Your life is good

We spent the weekend in downtown Chicago. It was intended to be a birthday trip for the kids. It turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

Our hotel was next to Neiman Marcus on N. Michigan Ave. also known as The Magnificent Mile. As we were leaving the hotel on Friday afternoon to have dinner, we passed a homeless man sitting on the marble window ledge of Neiman Marcus. He was just sitting not talking to anyone. He simply had a cardboard sign that said, "just hungry. God bless you." There was a coffee cup sitting in front of him with some change in it. As we passed, we noted the rich irony of having to beg for change in Neiman Marcus' marble window ledge with a mannequin wearing an $850 outfit watching over your shoulder.

The next morning, we headed out to the American Girl Place store for McK's birthday trip. This same man was lying on this ledge asleep with his head propped up on some rolled up bags. He slept there all night. He smelled awful when you walked by as well. I couldn't help but think how I had just walked out of a very nice hotel that is $200+ a night, heading to a store where dolls are $100+ each, and here was this man who was sleeping on the street. On the way back to the hotel, he was eating what was obviously someone's leftovers from the pizza joint next door. Whether someone gave them to him, or he dug them out of the garbage, I have no idea. I dropped whatever change I had in my pocket at the time in his cup, probably just to assuage my own guilt.

Yesterday when we were taking a last stroll up Michigan Ave., we saw a homeless lady gathering all the Starbuck's cups out of a trashcan and pouring the leftover contents into a single cup. McK asked what she was doing. TG had to explain it to her. These things are incomprehensible to a 7 year old whose whole life has been suburban bliss.

I can't stop thinking about that man in the Neiman Marcus window. I came home vowing not to complain anymore about my very blessed lot in life. If you're reading this on a computer in the comfort of your own home, then you probably shouldn't either.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Michael J. Fox is my cousin

Really, he is. I swear. We don't call him that of course. In our circle, he just goes by Alex. You know, Alex P. Keaton. My cousin has never driven a Delorean masquerading as a time machine, only an orange Vega stationwagon. I am also pretty certain that he's never been deputy mayor of New York. But he is just as funny as Michael J. Fox nonetheless.

He was born on this day 38 years ago - a meager 17 months after I made my appearance. A cousin by lineage, a brother by heart. As far back as I can remember, we were inseparable. That is until I had to move away from home to get on with life. Once I moved away, we used to write letters all the time - you know, the way people communicated before the internet was in every home and people had blogs. Of course, we never addressed our letters to each other using our birth names. No, we made up stupid stuff like "Stymie's Home for Orphan Midget Wrestler's" or "Larry Sausage's Truck Stop Temporaries." I'm sure we caused more than one mailman to take a double take when delivering our mail.

I called him tonight to wish him happy birthday and to tell him to enjoy it while he can because when he hits 39, body parts are going to start falling off the man.
There are so many good things to remember about the times we spent together. Now, we didn't end up marrying twins and living next door to each other with a secret tunnel that joined our two houses. That is probably a good thing. But I wouldn't count out the cross-country Winnebago tour whenever we hit 75 and retire.

Happy birthday, Alex.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


There was change in the air this week. The calendar rolled over to August which means that there's still ample sauna weather here in the midwest. However, the hints of the change to come are starting to show themselves, if you're inclined to notice them. The Purple Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans have gone to seed inviting the yellow finches to light and have a late summer meal. All of the daisies have gone the way of "she loves me, she loves me not," and the still-green leaves are storing up food for the long winter's rest. The shadows of the sun are longer earlier in the evening while the song of the cicada serenades the children to sleep. But the surest sign yet of the coming cool breezes was not so quiet in arriving. On Tuesday, I saw the first flock of Canada geese land on the pond in a nearby subdivision. Yes, winter's guests have started arriving for the season. It won't be long before the chill in the morning air brings out the L.L. Bean field coat for the season. Shorts will be packed away yet again, and autumn will be in full firey display. Thank God...

Thursday, August 04, 2005


My very good friend M. took this photo. Isn't she wonderful?
Boats on the River Avon in England

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bouncing Bush

now this is just hours of fun. I particularly like it when he gets caught with his head up his arse, sorta like he runs the country.