newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Wroclaw, Poland
20 August 2004

Start of Bhagavad-gita class, ISKCON Wroclaw, Poland, 19 August


His Holiness Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja

A Letter to the Members of the GBC by HH Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja

Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

First let me beg forgiveness for my constant arrogance. Actually, this is the way I cover up so many of my faults. When there is no arrogance in my behavior or letters then you should know, for sure, I am leaving the body. (Smile)

Yesterday, a Godbrother called me. As he spoke he was in tears. He had consulted a reputable devotee astrologer who told him he saw sudden death for me in my astrological chart. He shared that he had placed my picture between his two Silas to offer daily prayers. We both agreed, however, that the "Krsna factor" could maintain or change any situation.

A short time later, I read my e-mails and saw that several devotees had written, sharing how they came so close to death and somehow pulled out of it. I was in awe at the near-death experiences of so many devotees and how so many have such intense faith and devotion. What a wonderful spiritual family we have!

Today, I spent the morning and evening taking different tests inside of machines. Physicians at the Washington Cancer Center want to look closer at what areas of the body have or have not been affected. During the two hours I spent in the MRI machine I again had such a wonderful meditation. I saw myself being in Mayapur at the GBC meeting and I meditated on each of you, your dedication to Srila Prabhupada, the attacks and challenges each of you encounter, the amazing sacrifices each of you make almost daily, how year after year each of you go on in spite of the confusion, problems, disappointments, sickness, etc. What can I say? By the time I went around the GBC table (in my mind) I was somewhat intoxicated with appreciation and gratitude to have your association. All of you are so empowered.

Two years ago I did this during one of the meetings. I did not want to come to the meetings, so from the first day to the last, I meditated on something special each of you offer to ISKCON. I felt great satisfaction and happiness all during the meetings, especially since I am one of those who do not like meetings that are over one hour long.
Today I found out some devotees are setting up a fund for my medical expenses. Maybe I will get sufficient donations to pay off my Turley case assessments in full. Krsna is so full of tricks and does many things at the same time. (Smile)

I see the surgeon on Thursday, and he will surely recommend amputation, chemotherapy, and a host of other such things. By next week I will inform you of my plan, perhaps where I will go and what I will do. If you want to make Krsna laugh, just tell Him your plans. (Smile)

Yours in Srila Prabhupada's service,

With love,

Bhakti Tirtha Swami

Not Black and White

A reader who recently discovered In2-MeC, and who is now going through all the back entries, sent me this article as his response to a book review I did on 29 May about the scientific scam known as industrial melanism. The article is written by Jerry A. Coyne, member of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 1101 E. 57 Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. Mr. Coyne reviews this book:

Melanism: Evolution in Action
by Michael E. N. Majerus
Oxford University Press, 1998, 338 pp.

Cautionary tale: the classic account of industrial melanism in the peppered moth now looks flawed.

From time to time, evolutionists re-examine a classic experimental study and find, to their horror, that it is flawed or downright wrong. We no longer use chromosomal polymorphism in Drosophila pseudoobscura to demonstrate heterozygous advantage, flower-colour variation in Linanthus parryae to illustrate random genetic drift, or the viceroy and monarch butterflies to exemplify Batesian mimicry. Until now, however, the prize horse in our stable of examples has been the evolution of 'industrial melanism' in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, presented by most teachers and textbooks as the paradigm of natural selection and evolution occurring within a human lifetime. The re-examination of this tale is the centrepiece of Michael Majerus's book, Melanism: Evolution in Action. Depressingly, Majerus shows that this classic example is in bad shape, and, while not yet ready for the glue factory, needs serious attention.

According to the standard textbook litany, before the mid-nineteenth century, all B. betularia in England were white moths peppered with black spots, a form called typica. Between 1850 and 1920, typica was largely replaced by a pure black form (carbonaria) produced by a single dominant allele, the frequency of which rose to nearly 100% in some areas. After 1950, this trend reversed, making carbonaria rare and typica again common. These persistent and directional changes implied natural selection. In a series of studies, this conclusion was verified by several investigators, most prominently Bernard Kettlewell of Oxford.

According to these workers, the evolution of colour was caused by birds eating the moths most conspicuous on their normal resting site-tree trunks. The increase in black moths was attributed to pollution accompanying the rise of heavy industry. A combination of soot and acid rain darkened trees by first killing the lichens that festooned them and then blackening the naked trunks. The typica form, previously camouflaged on lichens, thus became conspicuous and heavily predated, while the less visible carbonaria enjoyed protection and increased in frequency. After the passage of the Clean Air Acts in the 1950s, trees regained their former appearance, reversing the selective advantage of the morphs. This conclusion was bolstered by a geographical correlation between pollution levels and morph frequencies (carbonaria was most common in industrial areas), and most prominently by Kettlewell's famous experiments which showed that, after releasing typica and carbonaria in both polluted and unpolluted woods, researchers recaptured many more of the cryptic than of the conspicuous form. The differential predation was supported by direct observation of birds eating moths placed on trees. Finally, Kettlewell demonstrated in the laboratory that each form had a behavioural preference to settle on backgrounds that matched its colour.

Criticisms of this story have circulated in samizdat for several years, but Majerus summarizes them for the first time in print in an absorbing two-chapter critique (coincidentally, a similar analysis [Sargent et al. , Evol. Biol. 30, 299-322; 1998] has just appeared). Majerus notes that the most serious problem is that B. betularia probably does not rest on tree trunks-exactly two moths have been seen in such a position in more than 40 years of intensive search. The natural resting spots are, in fact, a mystery. This alone invalidates Kettlewell's release-recapture experiments, as moths were released by placing them directly onto tree trunks, where they are highly visible to bird predators. (Kettlewell also released his moths during the day, while they normally choose resting places at night. )

The story is further eroded by noting that the resurgence of typica occurred well before lichens recolonized the polluted trees, and that a parallel increase and decrease of the melanic form also occurred in industrial areas of the United States, where there was no change in the abundance of the lichens that supposedly play such an important role.

Finally, the results of Kettlewell's behavioural experiments were not replicated in later studies: moths have no tendency to choose matching backgrounds. Majerus finds many other flaws in the work, but they are too numerous to list here. I unearthed additional problems when, embarrassed at having taught the standard Biston story for years, I read Kettlewell's papers for the first time.

Majerus concludes, reasonably, that all we can deduce from this story is that it is a case of rapid evolution, probably involving pollution and bird predation. I would, however, replace "probably" with "perhaps". B. betularia shows the footprint of natural selection, but we have not yet seen the feet. Majerus finds some solace in his analysis, claiming that the true story is likely to be more complex and therefore more interesting, but one senses that he is making a virtue of necessity. My own reaction resembles the dismay attending my discovery, at the age of six, that it was my father and not Santa who brought the presents on Christmas Eve.

Occupying a quarter of the book, the Biston analysis is necessary reading for all evolutionists, as are the introductory chapters on the nature of melanism, its distribution among animals, and its proposed causes. Majerus, however, designed his book for both professional and lay readers, and this causes some unevenness in the material. The Biston story is sandwiched between less compelling chapters, including long sections on the basic principles of genetics and evolution, which can be skipped by evolutionists. Other discussions, involving melanism in ladybirds and other Lepidoptera, as well as the author's unpublished work on habitat selection, are full of technical details that will overwhelm the lay reader. Unfortunately, most of the work described is inconclusive; despite the widespread occurrence of melanism, its evolutionary significance is nearly always unknown.

What can one make of all this? Majerus concludes with the usual call for more research, but several lessons are already at hand. First, for the time being we must discard Biston as a well-understood example of natural selection in action, although it is clearly a case of evolution. There are many studies more appropriate for use in the classroom, including the classic work of Peter and Rosemary Grant on beak-size evolution in Galapagos finches. It is also worth pondering why there has been general and unquestioned acceptance of Kettlewell's work. Perhaps such powerful stories discourage close scrutiny. Moreover, in evolutionary biology there is little payoff in repeating other people's experiments, and, unlike molecular biology, our field is not self-correcting because few studies depend on the accuracy of earlier ones. Finally, teachers such as myself often neglect original papers in favour of shorter textbook summaries, which bleach the blemishes from complicated experiments.

It is clear that, as with most other work in evolutionary biology, understanding selection in Biston will require much more information about the animal's habits. Evolutionists may bridle at such a conclusion, because ecological data are very hard to gather. Nevertheless, there is no other way to unravel the forces changing a character. We must stop pretending that we understand the course of natural selection as soon as we have calculated the relative fitness of different traits.


Now let's see how the proud scholars of ancient religious history are earning their pay.

Scholars Disagree on Early Inhabitants

Wed Aug 18

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer

QUMRAN, West Bank--Rival groups of scholars excavating this dusty plateau overlooking the Dead Sea are arguing over who lived here in biblical times-ordinary farmers or the Essenes, a monastic sect seen by some as a link between Judaism and early Christianity.

The Essenes were the authors and collectors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, more than 1,000 ancient texts found a half century ago in the caves above Qumran, one of the most significant discoveries in the Holy Land.

But some Israeli archaeologists say the placement of the scrolls in the caves doesn't mean the Essenes lived at Qumran, arguing they have found evidence the plateau near the caves was a plantation inhabited by seasonal workers.

The dispute has been simmering for several years, with a majority of scholars backing the theory that the Essenes lived here, but the argument has gotten new impetus from recent excavations.

"The old consensus is not valid anymore," said Yizhar Hirschfeld, a professor of classical archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Yuval Peleg, who has been excavating at Qumran for 10 seasons with fellow archaeologist Itzhak Magen, said artifacts such as coins and pottery they have discovered indicate the ancient community at Qumran "lacks any uniqueness" that would indicate the presence of a sect of austere monks.

However, Randall Price, an adjunct professor at Trinity Southwest University in New Mexico, said his five-week dig at Qumran yielded "new evidence to support old ideas"-that a special Jewish sect lived at Qumran.

Price said he found animal bones carefully placed together, sometimes with pieces of pottery, in arrangements that "make it quite clear that this was a religious ritual. "

Price, an evangelical pastor, thinks the arranged bones could have resulted from a communal meal held by the inhabitants, which he suggests may have been a precursor for a ritual that later became the Christian Eucharist.

He also said a pot he found, roughly two feet tall and still intact, is the same type of pottery found in the nearby caves that held the Dead Sea Scrolls. That is further evidence of links between the Qumran inhabitants and the scrolls, he said.

Disputing the traditionalists, Hirschfeld contends that findings cited as evidence of a cult-like community at Qumran, such as ritual baths, were not unusual for the Second Temple period 2,000 years ago.

He said other finds indicate the scrolls were not written at Qumran and were probably hidden there by people from Jerusalem, some 20 miles away.

Stephen Pfann, one of the scholars deciphering the scrolls, said that over a period of about 900 years, starting in 750 B. C. , Qumran may have changed hands nearly a dozen times and that this could explain the conflicting evidence.

He said the Essenes apparently lived at Qumran during two periods, starting in about 130 B. C. and ending in A. D. 66. In between, they are believed to have spent some 25 years in Jerusalem, at the invitation of King Herod, and to have written some of the scrolls there, he said. During the Essenes' absence, date farmers apparently lived at Qumran, Pfann said.

Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review in Washington, considers the question of who lived at Qumran undecided, but he is among those who think the scrolls were written elsewhere.

"I personally find it hard to believe that it was a factory of scroll writing," he said. "The better case can be made that this was an Essene library from Jerusalem. "

Pfann, however, said several scribal tables and ink wells have been found in the ruins of Qumran, indicating scribes worked here and argued at least some of the scrolls must have been written here.

Restaurant for Cats Opens in New York

Wed Aug 18

NEW YORK - Dressed in a tuxedo, Simba sat at the front of one of Manhattan's newest dining establishments and nodded at people who greeted him. Then he yawned, began to roll on the floor and lick his paws. That's acceptable behavior at the Meow Mix Cafe, a new eatery designed especially for cats and their human owners.

Simba, an 8-month-old kitten, was joined by about two dozen other tabbies, Persians and Burmese for a feast at Tuesday's grand opening of the cafe, which is owned by the Meow Mix Company, a Secaucus, N. J. -based cat food maker.

"Why not take your cat out for dinner?" asked Simba's owner, Leah Thompson, 19. "There's always things for dogs, but never cats. "

The midtown restaurant serves Meow Mix packets for its feline customers with corresponding dishes to satisfy human palates. "Deep Sea Delight" mackerel for cats is paired with tuna rolls for cat owners; "Upstream Dream" salmon for felines corresponds with mini crab cakes for humans.

Meow Mix president and CEO Richard Thompson said the feline-friendly restaurant has two main rules: no dogs and no catnip, which must be checked at the door.

"Our goal is to keep cats happy," Thompson said. "The idea is that you can bring them and start socializing them. "

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