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Monday, Jan 31, 2005
Forced prostitution or lose welfare benefits
This UK story reports on the current German welfare state:
A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers. ...

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. ...

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits." ...

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

Meanwhile, the European Union has formally told Turkey that it must legalize adultery if it wants to join.

Sunday, Jan 30, 2005
Scientist punished for allowing criticism of Darwinism
Andy sends this article:
The career of a prominent researcher at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington is in jeopardy after he published a peer-reviewed article by a leading proponent of intelligent design, analternative to evolutionary theory dismissed by the science and education establishment as a tool of religious conservatives. ...

The complaint says the chairman of the Zoology Department, Jonathan Coddington, called Sternberg's supervisor to look into the matter.

"First,he asked whether Sternberg was a religious fundamentalist. She told him no. Coddington then asked if Sternberg was affiliated with or belonged to any religious organization. ... He then asked where Sternberg stood politically; ... he asked, 'Is he a right-winger? What is his political affiliation?'

The supervisor recounted the conversation to Sternberg, who also quotes her observing: "There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down."

The complaint, according to the Journal column, says Coddington took away Sternberg's office, which prevents access to the specimen collection she needs. Sternberg also was assigned to the close oversight of a curator with whom he had professional disagreements unrelated toevolution.

"I'm going to be straightforward with you," said Coddington, according to the complaint. "Yes, you are being singled out."

Meyer'sarticle, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories," cites mainstream biologists and paleontologists from schools such as the University of Chicago, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford who are critical of certain aspects of Darwinism.

You can read the controversial scientific review article here. If there are any real scientists with a substantive disagreement, then they should publish a rebuttal.

Bob defends monolithic evolutionism:

I read the review article. The purpose of peer review is to prevent nonsense like Meyer's article from being published as science. I can't imagine how that article made it through peer review without a conspiracy on the part of Sternberg to find creationist referees. There should be an investigation to clear up this point. The fact that Sternberg claims to be surprised that creationism is scientifically disreputable shows his disingenuousness. I will be interested to see who hires Sternberg.

Here is evidence that when the details of speciation are worked out, it will not be allowed to be taught in high school, just as evolution is not taught because of pressure by the creationists.

Notice that Bob implicitly admits that the "details of speciation" have not been worked out yet. I wonder if the evolutionists are willing to allow students to learn that.

Chris send this blog comment:

The Council ... would have deemed the paper inappropriate ..., the journal will not publish a rebuttal to the thesis of the paper, the superiority of intelligent design (ID) over evolution as an explanation of the emergence of Cambrian body-plan diversity. The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.
It is very strange when scientists argue that the integrity of the scientific process requires that published claims not be rebutted.

Bob writes:

Not strange at all. I learned in Philosophy 101 that it is impossible to prove that there is no invisible person in the room. That is exactly the case with ID. Similarly, the PTO refuses to examine patents on perpetual motion machines. Creationists get what they deserve: no respect.

Friday, Jan 28, 2005
Zero intelligence
Sometime I wonder whether school officials are being deliberately stupid for some ideological reason. The Zero Intelligence blog documents such stupidity almost daily.

John sends this story:

The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards," Newman said. "It’s our responsibility to find as many ways as possible to accomplish this."

The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards -- because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind.

"It’s about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That’s contrary to No Child Left Behind," Newman said.

A spelling bee, she continued, is about "some kids being winners, some kids being losers."

As a result, the spelling bee "sends a message that this isn’t an all-kids movement," Newman said.

Furthermore, professional organizations now frown on competition at the elementary school level and are urging participation in activities that avoid winners, Newman said. That’s why there are no sports teams at the elementary level, she said as an example.

The emphasis today, she said, is on building self-esteem in all students.

"You have to build positive self-esteem for all kids, so they believe they’re all winners," she said. "You want to build positive self-esteem so that all kids can get to where they want to go."

A spelling bee only benefits a few, not all, students, the elementary principals and Newman agreed, so it was canceled.

Of course, No Child Left Behind says nothing of the kind.

A Fark reader suggests this Vonnegut story.

Bob writes:

Obviously it is stupid to eliminate a spelling bee for the reasons given in the story. Here are some good reasons to completely eliminate all English spelling bees.
Bob refers to an R.P.Feynman essay about changing some English spellings to be more phonetic.
LA train wreck
Andy sends this news excerpt:
Fox News Network January 27, 2005 Thursday
Bill O'Reilly with Guest Steven Camarota

O'REILLY: "Impact" segment tonight, authorities are still investigating Juan Manuel Alvarez, who is charged with causing that train crash north of L.A. that killed 11 people yesterday. Alvarez left his Jeep Cherokee on a railroad track and watched the accident unfold. He's being charged with 11 counts of murder and may face the death penalty.

"The Factor" has not been able to determine whether Alvarez is an American citizen at this point. In addition the U.S. State Department has issued a warning to Americans about growing violence I should say in northern Mexico, where millions of illegal aliens have been based.

Joining us now from Washington is Steven Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.

You know, it's funny. We've been trying to get -- all indications are that this Alvarez is an American citizen. But nobody can tell us for sure. After two days, and this guy's in the news from coast to coast. They don't know, they can't find out. Isn't that -- shouldn't they be able to?

STEVEN CAMAROTA, PHD, CTR. FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Well, unfortunately, we don't really have a very good system in place for determining whether people are legally in the country or not very quickly. And so it's not really all that surprising that we arrest someone. And well, we're not sure.

O'REILLY: Well, can't they get a Social Security number off of him or something like that? I mean, I thought that was the way to verify if somebody was legal or not.

CAMAROTA: Yes. I mean, if they make a good effort, they probably could determine it. What's not clear is maybe they know and they're just not releasing it.

We do know that Juan Manuel Alvarez is a victim of the family court. According to the NY Times, he because suicidal 2 months ago when the family court ordered him not to see his 2 kids. His wife asked for, and got, a restraining order.
Andy writes:
The amicus brief joined by Christian Coalition and Concerned Women of America is written by Viet Dinh, credited by some with having authored the Patriot Act when he worked for Ashcroft. The brief is a slick piece of deception, claiming that we need to shut down peer-to-peer copying systems to restrain child pornography on the internet.

The argument is ridiculous. This case is about copyright infringement, and child pornography does not use copyright laws in any way.

Christian Coalition and CWA, and in fact all the named amici, apparently joined a brief that they did not pay for or understand. So what is behind this brief? Check out the brief's footnote 1 disclosures required by the Supreme Court:

"Petitioners and Respondents have consented to the filing of this brief. Consistent with Rule 37.6, this brief is not authored in whole or in part by counsel for any party. No person, other than amici or their counsel, has made a monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of this brief. Counsel of record is an independent, non-executive director of the News Corporation, parent company of Petitioner Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Bancroft Associates PLLC provides ongoing public affairs and political strategy advisory services to the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Pictures Association of America, of which some Petitioners are members."

In other words, the author of the brief is a (paid?) director of the parent company of the Petitioner. The law firm of record on the brief is hired by RIAA, the driving force behind the Petition.

The brief does not even claim to be in compliance with Rule 37.6, but merely says it is "consistent with" it. In reviewing hundreds of amicus briefs, I have never seen such an absurd circumvention of Rule 37.6 as above.

Oh, what has become of the once-leading conservative organizations?!

You can find the briefs here and here. The case threatens to ban technology just because it can be used for copyright infringement.
Praising Scalia, court book
Focus on the Family says:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is once again making a plea for judges to focus on the U.S. Constitution—instead of their own political leanings.

Scalia, who has been mentioned as a candidate to become the next chief justice if the ailing William Rehnquist steps down, said in a recent speech that the Constitution says what it says "and does not say what it does not say." ...

To learn more about the problem of liberal judges disregarding the constitution—and the role that play in judicial tyranny, we recommend an excellent book: "The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop it," by Phyllis Schlafly.

Thursday, Jan 27, 2005
State of Fear
Michael Crichton's new novel, "State of Fear," takes on global warming and climate change, and it finally gets some scientific criticism here:
He writes that our paper "concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century." But we didn't say that. Instead, we outlined plenty of technologies that must be further developed to stop a probable several-degree rise in global temperatures. We called for a Manhattan Project-style effort to explore technologies we already have.
It doesn't take a Manhattan Project to explore existing technologies; it would only be used to develop new technologies.
Further, he invokes the pseudo-sciences of eugenics and Lysenkoism (in the former Soviet Union) as examples of mainstream scientists being led astray. But these were politically driven ideologies.
I can why these scientists take offense, but global warming is ideologically driven. For years, anti-progress leftists have used environmentalism as an excuse to attack economic development. Those arguments have been rebutted by the fact that advancing technology has generally made the environment better. Recent arguments that we have an underpopulation problem can be found here and here. Now with global warming they think that they have the perfect no-growth argument, because just about everything seems to generate some warmth.

Bob writes:

I still don't understand why anyone is worried about global warming instead of the next ice age which will put NY City under 50 feet of ice and is due to start soon if ice ages follow the pattern established long before humans were an environmental factor.

As to underpopulation, forget about it. Kids no longer run in the black by a long shot. Best case is that they put you in a decent nursing home. More women can support themselves by doing something other than raising kids. No one likes traffic jams. Most people have to drive at least a half hour to find a place to shoot, when I was a kid it was about 10 minutes. A brief look at the life style of friends with kids, even if they are still married, is a powerful ad for Planned Parenthood. The communitarian sensibility that "it takes a village to raise a child" spells increased government interference in and regulation of parenthood. It seems like everyone associated with kids is eaten up with dumb ass. The schools have pathetic teaching and perpetual meetings where they come up with zero tolerance policies. CPS has a reputation worse than the NAZIs. Family courts rival the Soviet Union in dispensing injustice. The Boy Scouts are under assault. Decreasing reproduction makes kids even more precious and spoiled. The global warming argument is a distant millionth among reasons to avoid having kids. Japan seems to be doing fine with a decreasing and aging population.

Worrying about global warming gives an excuse to restrict CO2 emissions. The best catalytic converters can't do anything about them.

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005
Stupid lawyer with no sense of humor
John sends this Newsday column. from a lawyer defending the arrest of 2 men for telling lawyer jokes:
Mocking the legal system in a courthouse can be a corrosive force to jurisprudence. If permitted, it would attack the very fabric of our democracy by creating a judicial environment that ridicules and derides those who not just serve the courts but, far more important, those citizens who seek justice. Ultimately, scornful, derisive behavior inside our courthouses would threaten the very laughter that is so crucial to who we are as a free and open society.

Laughter has its place. But to the pair of self-proclaimed activists it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that a courthouse is not a comedy club. As the proverbial bartender said to the two disorderly drunks, "Take it outside."

If Lois Carter Schlissel had understood the facts, then she'd know that the pair were "arrested while waiting in line to get into the courthouse". They were outside!
Copernican revolution
Bob writes:
This shows that Galileo believed that the Copernicun position was revolutionary:
[Galileo to Kepler, 1597] ....Like you, I accepted the Copernicun position several years ago and discovered from thence the causes of many natural effects which are doubtless inexplicable by the current theories. ... Copernicus himself, our master, who procured immortal fame ...
Kepler's reply mentions Plato and Pythogoras, and some of the Pythagoreans believed in a heliocentric system.

Copernicus's famous book was titled, "On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres", and that refers to the planetary orbs revolving around a point near the Sun. For 100s of years, that's what people meant by the Copernican Revolution.

I think that Galileo is just saying that he agrees with much of the Copernican model.

Clarence Thomas' America
The blog site Clarence Thomas' America has a nice description of how Justice Thomas views differ from the rest of the Supreme Court. The purpose of the site is to attack Thomas, but it just further convinces me that he is our best justice.

Monday, Jan 24, 2005
Man-made greenhouse gases saved world from big freeze
John sends this article.
HUMANS may have unwittingly saved themselves from a looming ice age by interfering with the Earth's climate, according to a new study.

Sunday, Jan 23, 2005
NY Times wants to suppress criticism of evolution
A long NY Times editorial says:
Critics of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution become more wily with each passing year. ...

The Cobb County fight centers on a sticker that the board inserted into a new biology textbook to placate opponents of evolution. ...

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Although the board clearly thought this was a reasonable compromise, and many readers might think it unexceptional, it is actually an insidious effort to undermine the science curriculum. ...

A more honest sticker would describe evolution as the dominant theory in the field and an extremely fruitful scientific tool. ...

Andy writes:
The genie is out of the bottle on allowing criticism of evolution. Not even the ACLU has enough attorneys to stop the criticisms. This will be yet another example of the internet destroying any censor standing in its way. Add the criticism of evolution to the growing list reflecting the power and influence of the internet. No newspaper publishes any meaningful criticism of evolution, but the internet is awash in it and that is driving the changes in schools.

Why are newspapers so out of step with the internet on this issue? I'll bet nearly 100% of newspaper editors are diehard evolution supporters. Of course, the vast majority of newspaper editors were also Kerry supporters.

Bob writes:
Do you seriously claim that the Cobb county warning stickers and Intelligent Design constitute criticism of evolution? This is like saying that the claims that the earth is fixed and immovable because the bible says that the sun rises, or that the value of pi is 3 because the bible says so constitute criticism of physics and mathematics. People are free to put this on the internet, but teaching it in schools is another issue.

I would like to know how creationists deal with the lightning advances in understanding life such as this Nature article.

The sticker says that evolution is a theory, not a fact. If you read the editorial carefully, you'll notice that it admits that the sticker is 100% correct. The editorial really has to strain hard to try to argue that Georgia students should not get the truth.

I am not sure how how a technical advance in the molecular biology of DNA related to Darwinian evolution. Apparently some RNA-like molecules can turn genes on and off. Darwin didn't even believe in genes.

Bob replies:

Typical wacko argument. Attack evolution based on 150 year old science. Keep up the good work.
I am not attacking evolution, I am attacking the NY Times editorial which focuses on the theory of evolution as it was understood by Darwin.

Bob writes:

The NY Times article mentions "Charles Darwin's theory of evolution", "Darwinism", "Darwinian natural selection", and "evolution" interchangeably. Darwin gets proper credit for priority in discovering and articulating the principle of evolution by natural selection. Why would the NY Times wish to limit the discussion to evolution as understood by Darwin? The idea is absurd. Another ridiculous straw-man argument based on feigned misunderstanding.

Dorothy Rabinowitz on the The Journal Editorial Report weighs in on the Dover county school board here.

The NY Times does indeed want to limit the discussion of evolution. Read the editorial. It does not want schoolchildren to be exposed to any criticism of Darwinism. The NY Times position is fundamentally anti-science.

Bob complains about "religion thinly disguised as science". Real scientist do not goto court to try to prevent students from being encouraged to think critically. It is the evolutionists who behave like narrow-mind religious propagandists who know that their dogma cannot stand serious scrutiny.

I suggest that the Georgia school board prepare a new sticker that says:

A supremacist federal judge has ordered the truth removed from this sticker because he suspicious about the motives of a school board that would want to tell the truth about a science book.

Thursday, Jan 20, 2005
Problem with big bang
Joe writes:
Is this a real problem for Big Bang? And how do you rate status of Big Bang now?

Quasar with enormous redshift found embedded in nearby spiral galaxy with far lower redshift: unsolvable riddle for big bang astronomy

I dunno, but I don't think that you'll find the answer in Genesis.

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2005
Forcing wives to betray husbands
John sends this Seattle Pi story about prosecutors who want to make it easier to force a wife to testify against her husband.
"The bottom line is, accurate and relevant information should be provided to the jury in making a decision about guilt or innocence," said Tom McBride, executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. "Why in the world does the institution of marriage need to suppress information from a jury automatically?"

But the proposal troubles defense attorneys, who say it undermines the whole purpose of the centuries-old privilege -- to protect the sanctity of marriage -- and gives way too much power to prosecutors.

They say people shouldn't have to look over their shoulders all the time, worried their own spouses might turn against them someday in a courtroom.

The marital privilege should be strengthened, not weakened. The state should treat a married couple as a unit, and not use its power to bust up marriages. Just as no man should be forced to testify against himself, no man should be forced to testify against his wife.

Monday, Jan 17, 2005
Mandatory prison sentences
John sends this Debra J. Saunders column in the SF paper:
THE DEPARTMENT of Justice reacted as expected to last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed federal judges to set sentences outside federal guidelines. A spokesman said the feds are "disappointed" because this ruling will lead to more disparity in sentencing.

Bunk. For one thing, that statement suggests that there is less disparity with mandatory guidelines. That's simply not true. There are huge disparities under the present system. Career drug dealers can see their sentences shaved substantially if they testify against other players in their drug ring -- even people below them -- while those new to the trade don't have the knowledge to follow suit.

There also is disparity between venues. Supporters of the system argue that uniform guidelines mean that offenders serve the same time for the same crime, no matter who or where the judge is. But the present system transfers discretion from judges to prosecutors. Some U.S. attorneys go for the absolute maximum -- decades or more -- for first-time nonviolent drug offenders, while others show more restraint.

There is the disparity between local and federal prosecutions. As Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco two years ago, a young man prosecuted for possession of five grams of crack would serve months if caught by local police, but a minimum of five years if caught on federal property and prosecuted by federal officials.

She's right. She is probably the only sane writer for that newspaper.

John also sends this LA Times column in which Harvard law prof Alan Dershowitz blames it all on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In the sentencing guidelines case, a 5-4 court majority ruled that a sentencing judge may not increase a defendant's sentence based on the judge's resolution of disputed facts. All such disputes must be submitted to a jury. ...

The second majority ruled that it would be perfectly all right for a sentencing judge to resolve disputed facts against a defendant and to add years to his sentence based on them, so long as the judge said he was doing so at his discretion, not because he was forced to do it by the guidelines. ...

The swing justice in both instances was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who failed to explain how she could come to what the other eight justices believed were two irreconcilable positions.

The core problem is having women on the Supreme Court. They hold too many contradictory positions in their heads.

Mike writes:

Are you suggesting that they all be required to attend Harvard so Summers can set them straight? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6838216/

If this is how you feel, how can you support Bush's choice of Rice for Colin's job? Careful, you don't want to appear contradictory.

We have two women on the US Supreme Court, and they both seem to lack the crisp logical thinking ability that ought to be a pre-requisite for the job. Sure, some women have the ability, but they seem to be scarce in the judiciary.

The Secretary of State is a diplomat. It requires a different set of skills.

John writes:

Last week, Andy lambasted Justice Breyer for his opinion in the sentencing cases, Booker and Fanfan.

Andy wrote, "Justice Breyer, who initially helped write the Guidelines nearly two decades ago, was the point man for the defense. ... He then proceeded to engage in an unprecedented display of statutory gerrymandering to salvage his progeny."

But Andy failed to draw the obvious conclusion that follows from these assertions, or at least to post the query: Why wasn't Breyer bound by the canons of judicial ethics to recuse himself from the case?

See these posts: http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_01_16_corner-archive.asp#050533 http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_01_16_corner-archive.asp#050528 http://southernappeal.blogspot.com/2005_01_16_southernappeal_archive.html#110605406609962549 http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1105364116296

Now why didn't Andy think of that??

Andy responds:
John omitted how he and Roger generally defended the decision, and were happy to shift blame (unjustifiably) to Congress.

Like many talking heads that dominate TV and radio, John is more interested in complaining about a lack of recusal than the merits of the issue. Of course the issue of recusal is implicit in my remarks, but I emphasize the more important point that Breyer was substantively wrong to hold in favor of his own work.

Not me. I think that Breyer's decision is entirely incorrect. I do think that Congress needs to take some action on the sentencing guidelines, especially now that Breyer has made a mess of them.

Friday, Jan 14, 2005
Social Security angst
Joe recommends this TechCentral article that traces the Social Security shortfall to a decision in the 1970s to index payments to wage inflation instead of price inflation.

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005
Evolution is a theory
John sends this Georgia story:
A federal judge in Atlanta has declared unconstitutional the evolution disclaimers placed inside science text books by the Cobb County school system and ordered the "stickers" removed immediately. ...

The stickers send "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists," [Judge] Cooper said. "The school board has effectively improperly entangled itself with religion by appearing to take a position. Therefore, the sticker must be removed from all of the textbooks into which it has been placed." ...

The disclaimers read, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

You can see the sticker here.

Apparently some of the testimony focussed on the definition of a theory:

The plaintiffs' attorney, Michael Manely, during the trial hit hard on the fact that a scientific theory is not the same as "theory" applied in everyday life. He called on several scientists to testify to that effect, including biologist and textbook author Kenneth Miller.

Testimony from most of the five school board members who took the stand indicated they had not distinguished between an everyday use of theory and scientific theory.

The evolutionist claim that scientists and laymen use the word "theory" to mean different things is just plain nutty. There is no difference. The evolutionists are lying to promote their agenda.

Mike writes:

You're wrong again. The Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary lists 6 definitions for the word:

Main Entry:the-o-ry
Inflected Form:plural -ries
Etymology:Late Latin theoria, from Greek the*ria, from the*rein
1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
2 : abstract thought : SPECULATION
3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art *music theory*
4 a : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action *her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn* b : an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances — often used in the phrase in theory *in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all*
5 : a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena *the wave theory of light*
6 a : a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b : an unproved assumption : CONJECTURE c : a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject *theory of equations*
synonyms see HYPOTHESIS

I agree with Manely and Miller in distinguished between a scientific theory as defined in 5 and what those misguided board members certainly intended as a denigration of Darwin's ideas (by taking the def in 2 or 6). Evolution is a scientific theory not least of all because it explains the fossil record and relations among existing species; it's NOT unfounded speculation or an hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument.

No, I think that the school board would be happy with definition 5. If a physics book referred to the wave theory of light, then I think that both physicists and George school boards would be happy saying that it is theory, not a fact, regarding the nature of light.

Evolutionists are uncomfortable with the word "theory" because they seek the dogmatic certainty of what they regard as their religious rivals. They are just not happy saying evolution is a definition 5 theory.

I don't even agree that the school board was intending to denigrate Darwin. It appears to me that the school board was suspicious about evolution being used to explain the origin of life, and Darwin himself never believed that evolution could explain the origin of life.

Pollution cools
John sends this Reuters story:
Cutting down on fossil fuel pollution could accelerate global warming and help turn parts of Europe into desert by 2100, according to research to be aired on British television on Thursday.
This could be yet another story about how environmentalists are worsening the environment.

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005
Arrested for telling lawyer jokes
John sends this Newsday story:
"How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?" Harvey Kash reportedly asked Carl Lanzisera.

"His lips are moving," they said in unison.

While some waiting to get into the courthouse giggled Monday at the old chestnut, an attorney further up the queue was not laughing.

He told them to pipe down and when they didn't, the attorney reported the pair to court personnel, who charged them with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

It is a sad day when it becomes a crime to tell a lawyer joke on a public street.
Book on judicial supremacy confirmed
John sends this TNR story that says:
Pyrrhic Victory: On judicial nominations, conservatives could lose by winning. ...

Were Bush to appoint several hard-line conservatives to the Court, and were those justices to join Scalia and Thomas in pushing the Constitution in Exile, the abstractions of federalism and separation-of-powers doctrine could very quickly translate into concrete, unpopular policy choices.

This article is just gibberish. Scalia and Thomas are not pushing some sort of Constitution in Exile.

John also writes:

The main argument of The Supremacists is that modern judicial supremacy should be traced to Cooper v. Aaron (1958) and Dred Scott, not (as liberals like to say) to Brown v. Board of Ed and Marbury v. Madison.

That argument was apparently confirmed by a book published almost simulataneously by the new dean of the Stanford Law School, Larry D. Kramer, entitled "The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review." Kramer's book was highly praised by Newt Gingrich. and sharply critized by Laurence Tribe.

Andy responds:
That is an argument nicely echoed, apparently, by Larry D. Kramer. It's great that there is one law professor out of thousands (and a dean no less) who evidently agrees with us. OK, all the better.

But there is far more in the Supremacists that needs to be put out into the legal culture, such as the overwhelming proof of irrational supremacy by the Court on a variety of issues. Pornography comes to mind in particular, as the Supremacists tell it like no one else has. This needs to be injected into law review articles, then picked up by clerks and courts and briefs, and then ultimately embraced by the Supreme Court.

What John failed to note was Kramer's devastating rebuttal to Tribe's review, reprinted at the end of the above website, that leaves no doubt about who has the upper hand.

I agree with Andy. Tribe's criticisms are idiotic and insubstantial.

Saturday, Jan 08, 2005
2A secures individual right
This may be belaboring the obvious, but the US Justice Dept just issued this memo:
The Second Amendment secures a right of individuals generally, not a right of States or a right restricted to persons serving in militias.
The WSJ says:
Readying for a constitutional showdown over gun control, the Bush administration has issued a 109-page memorandum aiming to prove that the Second Amendment grants individuals nearly unrestricted access to firearms.

The memorandum, requested by Attorney General John Ashcroft, was completed in August but made public only last month, when the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel posted on its Web site several opinions setting forth positions on various legal issues. Reaching deep into English legal history and the practice of the British colonies prior to the American Revolution, the memorandum represents the administration's latest legal salvo to overturn judicial interpretations that have prevailed since the Supreme Court last spoke on the Second Amendment, in 1939. Although scholars long have noted the ambiguity of the 27-word amendment, courts generally have interpreted the right to "keep and bear arms" as applying not to individuals but rather to the "well-regulated militia" maintained by each state.

The next step should be to give some specificity to this view. We should have a national consensus that law-abiding individuals are entitled to own and use a 1911 Colt .45 handgun and a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. There is some debate about exotic weapons, but these guns have been commonly used by millions of people for generations.

Bob writes:

Robert Post, a constitutional-law professor at Yale Law School, said the new memorandum disregarded legal scholarship that conflicted with the administration's gun-rights views. "This is a Justice Department with a blatantly political agenda which sees its task as translating right-wing ideology into proposed constitutional law," he said.
Sometimes blatantly political right-wing ideology is correct and constitutional. Often blatantly political left-wing ideology is wrong and unconstitutional. To paraphrase the good Dr. Thompson, buy the supremacist ticket, take the supremacist ride.

Thursday, Jan 06, 2005
Bush favors tort reform
Bob writes:
Bush buys into the supremacist interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and is pushing Federal legislation which is unconstitutional according to the text of the constitution.

I hope that at least some right wingers have the integrity to point this out.

You will probably get agreement among those right-wingers who think that FDR's New Deal was unconstitutional.

I was glad to see Pres. Bush visit Madison County Illinois to take on the ambulance chasers. I grew up in Madison County. Plaintiffs find crazy reasons to file lawsuits in Madision County just because it has a reputation for big damage awards for flimsy claims.

Mohammedan emotional distress
There is a lawsuit pending over this Tucson Citizen letter:
We can stop the murders of American soldiers in Iraq by those who seek revenge or to regain their power. Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter.

After all this is a "Holy War" and although such a procedure is not fair or just, it might end the horror.

Machiavelli was correct. In war it is more effective to be feared than loved and the end result would be a more equitable solution for both giving us a chance to build a better Iraq for the Iraqis.

I am surprised that the newspaper would print this letter. An editor should have changed "should" to "could", at the least. Also, it should have clarified that the writer was referring to mosques in Iraq, not Arizona.

Wednesday, Jan 05, 2005
Dope doc convicted
Andy recommends this column, and John writes:
The article does not explain why Dr. Hurwitz apparently prescribed powerful narcotics with a street value of $3 million to a single patient, and narcotics worth $750,000 to another patient. What possible "legitimate medical purpose" could there have been for such outlandish amounts?

I guess Dr. Hurwitz's defense was that his patients lied or exaggerated their pain, and he believed them and gave them as much as they dope as they wanted. It seems a pretty weak defense when you consider that Hurwitz apparently developed a specialized practice and cultivated a national reputation as a doctor who was willing to dispense extremely high doses of narcotics.

Andy responds:
Dr. Hurwitz did not make any money on that "street value," which is irrelevant to a doctor not trading in that market. The article does explain that Dr. Hurwitz was cooperating with the federal government for years, and probably thought law enforcement was doing its job.

I don't see anything "outlandish" about it, but at any rate malpractice is not a crime, and certainly not a federal crime.

Your conclusion doesn't follow from your argument. Yes, he developed a specialized practice and was quite public about what he was doing. He did not conceal anything. He had patients in severe pain, some who testified in a compelling manner, and prescribed large amounts of painkillers for them with successful results. How you jump from there to our conclusion of a "weak defense" escapes me.

Nothing in John's comments rebut the superb column I circulated.

John responds:
The street value of drugs he prescribed (actually, he didn't just prescribe the drugs, he *dispensed* them) is relevant, not because Hurwitz shared in that money (I never said he did), but because it indicates the extraordinary quantity of dope he supplied to a single patient.

Is there support in the medical literature for the appropriateness of such huge doses?

Are you conceding that Dr. Hurwitz may have committed malpractice? Apparently the jury believed he did.

Medical malpractice, per se, is not a federal crime. However, if it was permissible for the jury to conclude that Dr. Hurwitz's prescriptions were malpractice, then that fact is relevant to whether the same actions were also criminal.

Bad signature
Check out this judge's signature. It has no resemblance to his name.

Tuesday, Jan 04, 2005
Why societies fail
Bob recommends the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. Diamond wrote himself a book review in the NY Times, if you want the executive summary. Diamond's previous book on the subject was Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. That book reinterpreted world history from the viewpoint of trying to explain everything by geography, and it was sufficiently politically correct that it was widely praised among liberal intellectuals.

I am very skeptical of analyses like this:

A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions. That's why Maya kings, Norse Greenlanders and Easter Island chiefs made choices that eventually undermined their societies.
If someone tries to write a one-paragraph explanation of the causes of the American Civil War, the Great Depression, or the fall of the Roman Empire, he'll get endless arguments even tho those events are documented in painful. And yet Diamond thinks that he can look at a few tree stumps and explain illiterate societies that died out hundreds of years ago.

Bob writes:

In the case of an Easter Island which currently supports no human population and has no trees but was forested several hundred years ago and supported 30,000 people, tree stumps can tell quite a lot about why the society on the island collapsed.

I an curious whether you consider the ecological collapse of a society like, say, Rwanda as described by Diamond is right wing, or left wing, or both.

It is left-wing for the reasons as the evolutionist who wanted all schoolchildren to be taught that man is no better than an insect.

Bob writes:

Diamond claims that steep hills are cultivated to the ridge without terracing and that the consequent erosion is reducing the cultivatable land and the food yield. It is harder to show that the "genicide" is due to the agricultural collapse. I haven't read Collapse yet, but from a review the evidence given is that the Hutu killed each other as well as the Tutsi. Diamond is a very craftsman-like in his arguments, I will let you know when I read the book.

I heard someone say that when they flew over Haiti, it is easy to spot the border with The Dominican Republic because there are trees on one side of the border and none on the other side.

I claim that both the left and right wing refuse to accept the truth about ecological collapse and consequent social collapse in both Haiti and Rwanda.

Another misconception of both the left and the right is famine. A Nobel laureate in economics a few years ago pointed out that there have been no famines in democracies. If the do-gooders want to do something about hunger and famine the obvious and effective answer is regime change.

You might want to check out Diamond's utterly fallacious Discover magazine article on QWERTY. You can find it debunked in this Reason article (but you may also want to check out what the Dvorak true believers say).

Monday, Jan 03, 2005
Against filibustering judges
Andrew Hyman has a letter regarding filibusters that was printed in the Washington Times, and writes:
The inspiration for this letter was an interview in which Phyllis Schlafly urged the Senate to change its filibuster rule so that three-fifths of Senators "present" could invoke cloture.

Sunday, Jan 02, 2005
Scientists for unlawful research
Paul Berg (a Nobel-prize-winning DNA scientist) is offended that any politicians would want to regulate scientific research. He writes this in today's Si Valley paper:
For when science is attacked on purely ideological grounds, its very integrity is at risk. Therefore, one must ask if infringing the inherent right of scientists to freedom of inquiry serves our society best. Perhaps, however, that right is already embodied in our Constitution. ...

What is so troubling about this dispute is that the quality of the science may no longer be the principal determinant in whether a particular line of research should be permitted.

So I guess he favors Josef Mengele's Nazi research, Kinsey's child molestation experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, research on exotic weapons, eugenics, cloning, and all the other controversial scientific endeavors.

Bob writes:

Did you check out that CWA link? It appears that Reisman is a wacko and CWA is a wacko organization. The claim of molestation experiments is false based on the CWA site.

No support is offered for the claim of experiments. I'm betting that these people go into the same category as the holocaust deniers, liars.

Bob's link shows Table 34 from Kinsey's 1948 book. I am assuming that the table is authentic. It looks like a report on child molestation experiments to me.

The recent Kinsey movie was made by a gay filmmaker for the purpose of promoting Kinsey as a fathers of the gay movement. I haven't seen it, and I would expect it to be homosexual propaganda.

Bob writes:

I think I get it now. Compiling data obtained from interviews with pedophiles constitutes child molesting and conducting sexual experiments on children. If people accepted reasoning like that, you could get a Nobel Prize for literature for your blog.
Maybe Bob should have been Scott Peterson's lawyer.

Mike rants:

Yes, Rog, it looks to you like a report on child molestation, because that's how the CWA website author wanted you to see it. (And your powers of discernment have lately been somewhat suspect.) However, it's equally obvious that this data is taken (and presented) OUT OF CONTEXT. Placing it back in context, as "Bob" attempts to do, is apparently not something you're willing to allow.

Why is it that right-wing radicals frequently apply 'reductio ad absurdem' type arguments to quotes taken out of context, spinning the author's position in their own way simply to *create* the fallacy they seek to root out, then erroneously attributing that fallacy to the poor soul who clearly meant no such thing by his original statement?

This approach seems to me to be favored above all others by right-wing nuts, allowing them to lie in a manner that appears logical to the uneducated masses (of right-wing sympathizers). EVERY time I've managed to hold in my vomit long enough to read through a Scarborough column, I find that he takes exactly this approach. He doesn't know any other, I guess, and I've noticed that you've been adopting this approach more and more lately yourself. (I'm gratified to see, however, that at least in Bob's case, you haven't stopped stooping to ad hominem attacks as well.) Learning from the master?

Take for example your conclusions about Berg. You state that he is "offended that politicians seek to regulate research." That's not what he says, it's what you say he says. That's your spin on his comments that serves to introduce the absurdity in his position that you take great delight in ferreting out. Hey, you yourself provide a quote of his that clearly complains about *how* regulation is to be applied, not that it *is* to be applied. From that you conclude that he'd support Nazi-like research?

(I, on the other hand, am sure he *wouldn't* support such research because it wouldn't meet the "quality of science" criteria that you made the mistake of quoting as his second paragraph. Your argument would have been stronger if you simply omitted that second paragraph, as his first does appear to support your spin on his position and lead directly to your "absurd" conclusion. Fool!)

Needless to say, I do not find this particular blog entry very persuasive. I think you *do* need to have your head examined by a sandplay psychologist!

BTW, Evan and I insist that you mischaracterized our conversation over breakfast. He might have indeed regarded you as a curiosity, but he never said you were the only Bush supported he'd ever met. He has friends that voted for Bush, and he even knows some in Santa Cruz. (Yeah, I know, some of your best friends are Jewish. ) *I* raised a question about how comfortable you could feel living in the midst of that largely left-wing community and somehow you confused the two issues. We demand a retraction!

No, Berg is saying that scientists have an "inherent right" to do whatever scientific experiments they want. He doesn't want any regulation. As for Kinsey, go ahead and put the child molestation in context, if you can.

Bob writes:

I was just reminded that Berg chaired the committee appointed by NSF to investigate the dangers of recombinant technology which resulted in a moratorium on recombinant experiments and the NIH regulation of recombinant research. This is hardly a record of not wanting any regulation. Maybe Berg just objects to being regulated by political hacks who pander to religious hypocrites and nuts.

Saturday, Jan 01, 2005
Hoping Rehnquist retires soon
Chief Justice Rehnquist just issued his annual report on the judiciary and he devotes 5 out of 18 pages to whining about public criticism of judges. He says:
Although arguments over the federal Judiciary have always been with us, criticism of judges, including charges of activism, have in the eyes of some taken a new turn in recent years. I spoke last year of my concern, and that of many federal judges, about aspects of the PROTECT Act that require the collection of information on an individual, judge-by-judge basis. At the same time, there have been suggestions to impeach federal judges who issue decisions regarded by some as out of the mainstream. And there were several bills introduced in the last Congress that would limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide constitutional challenges to certain kinds of government action.
I guess he is conceding that Congress has the power to limit jurisdiction, or he wouldn't be complaining about it.

His response is to babble about all the power the Supreme Court supposedly got in its 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, and to praise FDR for how he intimidated the Court into renouncing its constitutional interpretation.

President Roosevelt lost this battle in Congress, but he eventually won the war to change the judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court. He won it the way our Constitution envisions such wars being won -- by the gradual process of changing the federal Judiciary through the appointment process.
No, the way to change the Constitution is by amendment. FDR wanted to enact dubious policies that everyone had always understood to be unconstitutional.

Rehnquist stands for judicial supremacy more than anything, and the sooner he is replaced, the better.

Man is no better than an insect
A Haverford College student writes this letter to Phyllis.
Your column, "Darwinists top the censorship food chain" (12/29/04), is full of misinformation and in places, entirely wrong.

In your third paragraph, you write, "But that does not stop an intolerant minority from trying to impose a belief in the ape-to-man theory on everyone else." That humans have evolved from other primates is shown through evidence in the fossil record. Real, touchable, tangible pieces of history have led the scientific community to conclude that it is certainly a fact that humans came from apes. This is not a belief, it is what happened, and is not being imposed on people, but shown to them that it happened. If anything, intelligent design is a belief that is being imposed on people. There is absolutely no evidence, nothing tangible besides writings, that offer an explanation for creation from an intelligent maker. There is no factual support for intelligent design. Intelligent design, and religion, are imposed on children as they grow up. They have no choice as to what to believe, since their parents make that choice for them from birth. Intelligent design is imposed on these impressionable kids, even though zero hard facts have been found to support the idea.

You continue to bash Darwinists and attempt to use giraffes in text books as evidence against Darwinists. You make the association of inheritance of acquired characteristics with Darwinists and since that theory is wrong, Darwinists must be wrong. But Darwinists do not believe in the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Here you are just completely wrong, it is Lamarck's (1807) followers who believe in this theory. Darwinists attack it just as you, they have said it is wrong all along. You somehow missed this basic part of evolution.

The Cobb Country authorities are wrong in saying that evolution is a theory. Evolution is not a theory, but rather the mechanisms of evolution, its causes, are the theoretical part. Evolution has happened, and is happening today. Organisms change over time, this is shown clearly in the fossil record, backed by real evidence. Furhermore, evolution has been critically considered for the last 200 years by all of science. The conclusion scientists have come to is that evolution occurs quickly via natural selection. Everytime this theoretical mechanism is challenged, it prevails. It is presented as fact, because nothing has shown that it is not.

You claim, "if the theory of evolution were well supported, there would be no reason to oppose open debate about scientific claims," and there is not. Evolution and natural selection has plenty of evidence, you only need to look in journals, text books, museums, the ground, any biology classroom, present organisms and their similarities and countless other things. If you substitute your intelligent design in for evolution in the above quote, you will get my meaning. If intelligent design were well supported, maybe there could be a debate. Where is your proof? There is no evidence for intelligent design, and it does not matter if an atheist believes intelligent design, he still cannot prove it in anyway. This is why books written on intelligent design have not been allowed in libraries, because they cannot be presented as factual when there are no facts, no evidence, no support. The fiction section of a library, maybe, but not one for research.

Later, you say, "evolution corrodes this inborn appreciation of beautry and falsely trains children to view themselves as mere animals, no more worthy than dogs or cats." People are no better than any other animal. Humans have interesting mental abilities, but we deserve to be here no more than any other insect, animal, or plant. This belief that we are better, more worthy, than some other organisms is quite similar to the Nazi's belief that Germans were better than the rest of the world. Surely, this is a terrible thing to teach children, that they can be better than an animal, because it will lead them to believe that they are inherently better than other races, other religions, other nationalities. Millions of lives have been lost because of ignorant beliefs like these and it is a terrible thing to be compared to the Nazi's.

But you compared believing in evolution to being a communist in the former East Germany, a very low blow and pot shot taken by yourself I believe.

I think your commentary is just plain wrong. Debate in the field of evolution has been and will continue to rage, but only in the midst of theories with evidence and support and a plausible base. And yes, the Red States voted for Bush, and yes they are people like you, who do believe in things like intelligent design and write columns that are factually wrong and idiotic like yourself, and this is the problem with our country. This is why people against Bush feel so helpless, because his followers seem so blind to the facts, to the real world, and to what is the best direction for the world, rather than ourselves. Happy holidays.

Yes, this guy is a good example of the perils of teaching evolution in schools. I was sympathetic when he tried to argue from the point of view of science, even tho his arguments were fallacious. But then he insists on a completely unscientific assertion, that man is no better than an insect, and he insists that it be taught for essentially political reasons.

The evolutionists talk all day about how noble Science is, but they will not stick to science in what they want to teach as evolution.

Bob writes:

What exasperates me about your attacks on teaching evolution is the assumption you seem to make that the way to combat the unscientific nonsense which is taught in high schools and social science courses is to attack the idea of evolution. The source of the bad ideas you complain about is Marxism, and post modernism, not evolution. Gould, a Marxist, made the bizarre claim that evolution shows that there is no such thing as progress! Relativists claim that cultures are never superior or inferior to each other. Evolution instructs the exact opposite in both cases. By making the obnoxious and false claim that there is a scientific controversy over evolution you deprive yourselves of the strong arguments against the nonsense you criticize and completely discredit yourselves by joining the creationists who are entirely disreputable. It is a scientific fact that we have common ancestors with other living things. Accept it and get to work using evolutionary explanations for why we are better than insects.
My idea of progress is to permit criticism of Stephen Jay Gould in the schools.