War Dogs – Soldier’s Best Friend

From a fascinating article on the increasing use of dogs by our military: “The scent of war: According to Mike Dowling, a former Marine Corps dog handler who served in Iraq, there’s a simple explanation for why the Navy SEALs took a dog along on the Osama raid: “A dog’s brain is dominated by olfactory senses.” In fact, Dowling says, a dog can have up to 225 million olfactory receptors in their nose — the part of their brain devoted to scent is 40 times greater than that of a human.

“When you’re going on a mission,” Dowling says, “a raid or a patrol, insurgents are sneaky — they like to hide stuff from you. But a dog can smell them. …. [Think about] Saddam Hussein … what if Osama had been [hiding] in a hole in the ground? A dog could find that. A dog could alert them to where he’s hiding because of the incredible scent capabilities. … You can only see what you can see. You can’t see what you don’t see. A dog can see it through his nose.” HT: D. Lance

Paul Tripp making sense

This looks to be a great deal on a great resource. This DVD consists of 10 sessions addressing parenting issues for varous age-groups of children from 0-13.  Go to Westminster Bookstore to view some sample clips of Paul Tripp making sense. Just $15 for a limited time.

“Parenting is more than using your power to get children to behave in certain ways. Parenting is all about the exposure and change of the child’s heart. When the heart of a child changes the behavioral change that is needed will last. This is a great conference for parents raising children from age toddler through teen.

Learn how to be an instrument of heart changing grace in the little moments of life that God will give you with your children. Paul Tripp will begin with giving you a picture for God’s design for the family. Because if you don’t understand the family; you will never understand parenting. Then, Paul will help you to understand the life transforming and agenda setting things that the Bible says about the heart. Then, he will apply the principles about the family and the heart to the three primary stages of parenting.

In each stage Paul will give you the key issue of focus and practical steps for achieving what is important, at that particular stage of the child’s growth and spiritual development. Paul will also help you to identify those places where you are in the way of what God is calling you to do rather than being part of it by helping you to locate your own heart issues.”

Blog Commenting

An administrative note, if you’ll humor me. I’ve been getting enough spam comments to be annoyed, so now you have to register in order to comment. I trust this will be only momentarily painful, and then your smart browser will remember and type in your access information for you. Thanks for taking the trouble.

Brain Map

Paul Allen gave us the Experience Music Project (a truly pomo building shaped like, if anything, a smashed guitar), the Allen Telescope Array that searches into deep space for extra terrestrial life, SpaceShipOne, and now the Allen Brain Institute which is trying to do the brain version of the Human Genome Project.

Jonah Lehrer writes in April’s WIRED that some unexpected and disheartening “data sets have already demonstrated that the flesh in our head is far more complicated than anyone previously imagined. The brain might look homogenous to the naked eye, but it’s actually filled with an array of cell types, each of which expresses a distinct set of genes depending on its precise location. … But the atlas has revealed a startling genetic diversity; different slabs of cortex are defined by entirely different sets of genes. The supercomputer analogy needs to be permanently retired.” It turns out the brain is far more complex than imagined,and that every new level reveals a new level with discrete regions, and of course those regions open up to more. “This is the bleak part of working at the Allen Institute: What you mostly discover is that the mind remains an immense mystery. We don’t even know what we don’t know.” Such are the difficulties of a brain cartographer.

And to add discouragement, just when you think you are getting somewhere, you remember that “the brain, after all, is a byproduct of evolution, an accumulation of genetic accidents. The data that looks so arbitrary might actually be arbitrary. If that’s the case, having a precise atlas of the rain won’t lead to  a unified theory–because such a thing can’t exist.” But if the brain is really the product of arbitrary genetic accidents, then these thoughts about the brain are nothing but more of the same, and what sense does it make to trust them? It’s amazing to watch people pull the rug out from under themselves and still think they have some cushy to sit on and grey matter to trust.

Regardless, the $100 million is not going to waste. The apparent uniqueness of individual brains is especially fascinating. It seems every brain has “a landscape of cells that has never existed beofre and never will again. … This variation is even visible at a gross anatomical level–different people have differntly shaped cortices, with differnet boundaries between anatomical regions. (This is why, for isntance, neurosurgeons hav eot painstakignly probethe cortex during surgery.) If the human atlas is like Google Maps, then every mind is its own city.”


Blog action. This is finally live. Many thanks to the friends who have gone against their better judgment and encouraged me to write.  Also, kudos to Pete Bentley for his design and John Moss for technical wizardry.

If you turned the world upside down and shook it, what would come out? How much change, assorted papers, gum wrappers, licenses to operate heavy machinery and other knacks would trickle down? I’m not sure, but I’m keeping an eye out.

This blog is titled from that row in Thessalonica when the Christians were said to have “turned the world upside down…. saying there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:6-7). Obviously they didn’t invert things in the way their accusers said, but in a more profound way, the things that existed were shaken so that the things that could not would remain. This place where the meek inherit the planet, the mighty are brought low, the first will be last and countless other wild aspects of the gospel make everyone paying attention double-take in astonishment is my subject. Your comments are welcome.