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Comment Re:Icebergs float on glaciers (Score 1) 50

NASA used the term "float"

Thanks.

because the water ice is less dense than the ice dominated by nitrogen

Ice -- whether water or nitrogen -- is solid. Thus, there is no displacement of nitrogen ice by water ice. Ergo, no floating.

Another example might be a block of ice sitting on a bar of lead. It's not displacing any lead, so it's not floating.

Comment Re:Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertar (Score 1) 459

Whatever you want to call them - do you think that they would not be entitled to, at the minimum, a right to life to the same degree as humans (i.e. killing them should be treated as murder)?

Only if they can fight for them. "Our Creator" didn't endow man with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: men fought other men for those rights.

"Wait!!", you say. "Babies and Down's Syndrome people, and people in iron lungs can't fight. They must not be human, either!!" To that I reply, "They came from humans, so must be humans."

but not all humans have 23 chromosomes

You ignored the other differences.

Down syndrome

Interestingly -- and off topic -- males with DS have never been known to reproduce, and only 1/6 to 1/3 of DS females are fertile.

Ultimately, all this is just accumulated mutations and selection of them over the course of that 6 million years of divergence.

Why stop at six million? Why not regress back to 90 Mya and the first placental mammals? Or even further to the probainognathians, cynodonts, synapsids, amniotes, chordata, animalia, eukaryotes, bacteria, all the way back to the Last Universal Ancestor? Call everything human.

If you could incrementally edit a chimp's genome to make it human, at which point during the process is it "human enough"?

I don't know that.

But we do know that if it comes from the joining of male & female DNA, then it's human. And that's Good Enough.

Comment Re:Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertar (Score 1) 459

surely you can imagine a hypothetical non-human person, even under whatever subjective definition you subscribe to?

No, I can't.

suppose we do determine that dolphins are "intelligent enough" ... would that not make them persons?

No. It would make them sentient dolphins, not "non-human people".

you'll have to show a difference in quality rather than quantity of differences

Easy peasy!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_genome_project

The primary difference is that humans have one fewer pair of chromosomes than do other great apes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes and other great apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes. ... There are nine other major chromosomal differences between chimpanzees and humans: chromosome segment inversions on human chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, and 18.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/full/nature08700.html

we show that they differ radically in sequence structure and gene content, indicating rapid evolution during the past 6âmillion years. The chimpanzee MSY contains twice as many massive palindromes as the human MSY, yet it has lost large fractions of the MSY protein-coding genes and gene families present in the last common ancestor.

You can't boil the argument down without agreeing on what the argument is about.

That's for sure... :)

Comment Re:Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertar (Score 1) 459

Why not the egg? Why not before?

Anyone intelligent enough to post on /. is intelligent enough to know that half the DNA isn't enough. (It's also why the Roman Catholic "every sperm is sacred" doctrine is so silly.)

And it's a valid question to ask whether they should have the same rights as a self-aware human being.

Quoting "The Interpersonal World of the Infant", 1985, p. 165: Prior to the age of eighteen months, infants do not seem to know that what they are seeing in a mirror is their own reflection. After eighteen months, they do.

Thus, if self-awareness is the measure of humanity/personhood, it's just as ok to "put down" an eighteen month old human as it is to kill an unwanted dog.

you're not basing your definition of rights on whether someone is a person or not. You're basing it on whether they're human or not

I fail to see the difference between the two. The Wikipedia article just demonstrates a bunch of philosophical BS.

don't see why this is, in principle, any better than denying on a scattering of other genetic markers that correspond to dark skin etc.

Where did I indicate such a thing???

Biology is irrelevant here

It is relevant, because with it you boil the argument down to objective facts instead of philosophical and socio-political arguments.

Comment Re:Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertar (Score 1) 459

So self-awareness, and brain in general, is not required to be a person?

Excellent question!

Answer, part #1: Because the the human brain develops naturally from that zygote.

Answer, part #2: Babies with severe microcephaly have no self-awareness, but are still humans.

why don't they get all the same rights that a person should?

Just because they have a wrong DNA?

Because their DNA is not human. Even when it functions properly, it doesn't produce the panoply of features required for humanness.

Does it also apply to humans with "the wrong DNA" (e.g. not sufficiently white)?

Only for people without a competent understanding of biology.

Comment Re:Authoritarians will always rule. (Score 2) 459

laws prohibiting abortion force those who are not to bow to my beliefs and surrender their own.

And what about my belief that stupid people should be shot hit the head?

If you say something about my freedom stopping at his nose, then I remind you that the baby's right to live stops at the aborter's saline injection, scraping blade, etc.

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