August 05, 2006

Friends & Family Watch

Robbie Wokler, my dad's college roommate and longtime friend, passed away last weekend. His academic accomplishments were significant enough to earn a nice obituary in the Times of London, declaring it "an indictment of the university system that a scholar of his calibre never held a chair." Over at the liberal group blog Crooked Timber, University of Bristol philosophy professor Chris Bertram laments the loss of a fellow Rousseau expert. RIP.

Speaking of academics, my cousin Cliff and his team at Harvard have discovered a genetic explanation for the variations in finches that Darwin observed.

Using a genetic analysis technique called DNA microarray analysis to study the differences between five species of finch, they found that the longer, pointed beaks contained more calmodulin, a protein molecule that binds calcium in cells.

To confirm their findings, the team -- led by Clifford Tabin of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts --, used genetic manipulation to increase the level of calmulodin in the beaks of chicken embryos.

The chickens were born with pointy beaks that were 10-percent longer than normal.

That's right, science has unlocked the secret recipe for genetically engineered huge-beaked superchickens. Can this technology be weaponized?

Posted by John Tabin at August 5, 2006 07:13 AM

Dr. Wokler was a honorable and sincere scholar.
Although he and I agreed on almost nothing politically for 45 years, he was always respectful and sincere.

He never resorted to ad hominem attacks on those he disagreed with like so many of the left do. Also, unlike many men and women of the 60s left who ended up teaching in universities he was appalled at the politicizing of course study. He was disgusted at the savaging of the canon, and in later years he began to believe that his economic views were probably too idealistic. He admitted to me that he had begun reading the WSJ and well as the FT.

He also totally understood the nature of the enemy we are fighting. He was the kind of liberal who exists in all too few numbers.

Mom and I will miss him.


Posted by: ltabin at August 5, 2006 08:20 AM