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Thursday, Mar 31, 2005
Evolution v blasphemy
Bob writes:
The mutant hothead genes and T. Rex bone may or may not turn out to be what some scientists currently think they are. Science will sort it out. The polywater episode is a great illustration. There was a paper published in Science the early '70s describing how water could polymerize under certain conditions. The properties of polywater were described. Soon letters and rebuttal letters appeared in Science. Eventually a letter was published which described reproducing the results in the paper with dirty lab equipment. That was the end of the polywater controversy.

Mendel's work was seminal. If there are exceptions to Mendelian inheritance, it takes nothing away from Mendel or the work which was based on his work. Evolution has survived scientific scrutiny and new discoveries in the fastest progressing field of science for nearly 150 years. There are no scientific alternatives to evolution which explain the observed results. Evolution is settled science. Critics of evolution are willfully ignorant. When they complain, for example, about not understanding why it isn't possible that genes which produce proteins with the same structure could not have evolved independently one invariably discovers that they haven't read any of the literature or even the basic text books.

It is interesting that anyone is concerned with blasphemy. I thought that concern was limited to mullahs and their followers. I find that most religious folks are not humiliated by evolution, evolutionists, or science. There is a passionate, vocal religious minority which is so unreasonable that they refuse to accept common sense and settled science who humiliate themselves. My advice to them is to read some of the books they would like to ban.

Notice his faith that science will sort everything out, that evolution must be believed regardless of contrary evidence, and that it is okay for science to attack religion but not okay to attack evolution.

In other evolution news, elephants are evolving into trucks. Here is a goofy theory about how the neanderthals went extinct. And there are octupuses who are learning to stand erect and walk on 2 legs. At this rate, they could be crawling out of the sea in about 30 million years. I couldn't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, Mar 30, 2005
Spanking therapy
According to this Russian research, spanking is not only good for kids, it is good for adults:
Spanking is more effective than exercise at keeping the blues at bay, say Russian researchers who carried out tests on caning.

They recommend that people receive 30 weekly sessions of 60 of the best. High levels of pain make the body produce endorphins or 'happy chemicals' and this leads to feelings of euphoria.

Endorphins also boost the immune system, release sex hormones and reduce appetite.

It sounds dubious to me, but there are a lot of shrinks advocating crazier things.
Attorney capture
Andy writes:
This Terri case illustrates perfectly the problem of attorney capture, whereby a domineering attorney uses a client as a vessel for the attorneys' own ends.

This happens often in the law, particularly in litigation. I've seen it done and probably been guilty of it myself. I woke up to it one day when one of my clients went completely around me and settled his dispute directly with the other side, without even telling me.

Felos captured Michael Schiavo and is using him to advance an agenda (and probably earn more money for Felos). One day Michael will realize he was an accomplice to a gravely immoral act, and it won't be pleasant for him. Maybe he's starting to realize it already.

The person on the other side of the litigation, however, fails to realize what is going on. He assumes the attorney is working for the client, not vice-versa. He gets angrier and angrier at his adversary, but that just stokes the fire. The more polemic things get, the greater the need for the attorney who is causing it all.

The solution is for the adversaries to go around the attorneys. I suggested this yesterday and pleaded with those in contact with the Schindlers to do this. Perhaps not surprisingly, my contacts were irritated by the suggestion. Why? Because even those sympathetic to Schindler cannot accept that it is Felos, not Michael Schiavo, who is the real problem here.

Michael Schiavo is no angel, but he's no Rhodes Scholar either. He couldn't graduate from community college and was living off his in-laws' generosity. He probably changes his mind and love interests frequently. He probably needed a job and was irritated at the burden of Terri's condition, particularly after starting another family. Enter Felos to take over, perhaps find him employment, and tell him what to do.

I bet it would only take a few hours in a meeting between the Schindlers and Michael, without attorneys, to change everything about this case. There would be a risk that Michael would revert back to Felos' wishes upon returning to him. Felos would say that Judge Greer's decision stands regardless of Michael's wishes, but it wouldn't withstand public outrage. What is surprising is that no one Schindlers' side even sees value in this approach. Perhaps they're not aware of the phenomenon of attorney capture.

Check out Felos' book and reviews and then tell me if he's the problem.

I don't know, but everyone who hires an attorney should realize that the attorney may have conflicting interests.

Monday, Mar 28, 2005
Perils of democracy
This news story says that political freedom can mean less freedom to tell jokes.
But after Iraq's Jan. 30 parliamentary elections, Joudi noticed that divisions were emerging among his old friends. ... "Now if you tell a joke about a Sunni or a Kurd, you wonder whether you're hurting their feelings," said Joudi, 42, who's a Shiite. "People are just not relaxed about that stuff anymore." ...

Under Saddam Hussein's regime, jokes about the Sunni dictator or his tribe were forbidden, but everyone else was fair game. Cracking on Kurds became a national pastime. Shiites, particularly those who come from southeastern cities, were derided as "shiroogi" - a word that means "eastern" but is used pejoratively as uneducated or backward. Sunni jokes are almost always told through one prominent tribe, the Dulaimis of Ramadi, who're stereotyped as bumbling and provincial.

So I guess that is one advantage of keeping people powerless -- everyone can make fun of them with impunity!
Benefits of global warming
This Wired article explains some of the benefits of global warming. It could very well cause a net gain in USA GDP.
Critical mass
New York police are arresting bicyclists who participate in the monthly Critical Mass ride:
Bicycle advocates, 37 of whom were arrested Friday night during the latest Critical Mass ride, vowed Sunday to fight city efforts to require permits for the monthly bicycle rally. ...

The city has filed a complaint seeking to require permits for a monthly bicycle rally through Manhattan that typically brings automobile traffic to a standstill.

The city wants to require permits for use of city streets and of Union Square, the rally's starting point, and to bar participants from publicizing the ride. Siegel called the complaint and the arrests of 37 bicyclists during a ride on Friday unconstitutional, and vowed to fight both in court.

This is police harassment. They don't arrest car drivers just because there is a traffic jam. They shouldn't be arresting bicyclists they have attracted a crowd. Riding on the public streets is entirely legal.

The Critical Mass bicycle rides started in San Francisco a little over 10 years ago. It is not a protest or an organized political movement. It is just bicyclists who happen to like riding with other bicyclists so that they will be at less risk of being hit by a car.

Mining religion
Steven Hayward writes:
... in the pages of Jared Diamond’s new best-seller Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In a particularly frothy passage on page 462 attacking mining companies, Diamond writes:
Civilization as we know it would be impossible without oil, farm food, wood, or books, but oil executives, farmers, loggers, and book publishers nevertheless don’t cling to that quasi-religious fundamentalism of mine executives: ‘God put those metals there for the benefit of mankind, to be mined.’ The CEO and most officers of one of the major American mining companies are members of a church that teaches that God will soon arrive on Earth, hence if we can just postpone land reclamation for another 5 or 10 years it will then be irrelevant anyway.
I really doubt that any mining company officers think that way. Diamond just made up that quote. When Diamond is so wrong about present day events analysis, why does anyone believe his tenuous theories about what happened in prehistorical societies 1000s of years ago?

Sunday, Mar 27, 2005
Shiavo polls
These Terri Shiavo polls are biased, and have been widely misinterpreted. Besides these problems, consider these Time poll questions:
Congress met in a special session this past weekend to pass legislation moving the Schiavo case from the Florida state courts, which have repeatedly ruled to remove the feeding tube, to the federal court system. Regardless of your opinion on the Schiavo case, do you think it was right for Congress to intervene in this matter, or not?

How about President Bush, who signed the legislation this weekend moving jurisdiction to the federal courts? Was it right for him to intervene, or not?

Congress did not move jurisdiction to the federal court. The Florida state court still has jurisdiction, and its order is still binding and effective. Congress merely said that the federal courts could consider claims that federal rights were infringed.

I also don't think that it is correct to say that Bush intervened. In legal jargon, to intervene in a case means to become a party to a case. Bush has not taken sides as a party.

Here are some CBS News questions:

Do you think Congress and the President should be involved in deciding what happens to Terri Schiavo, or is this a matter Congress and the President should stay out of?

Regardless of your opinion about the Terri Schiavo case, in general, do you think the federal government should decide whether it is legal for family members to remove a patient from life support, or should each state government decide, or are these issues something the government should stay out of?

The answers to these are hard to interpret. Someone could answer no to the first question, thinking that Congress and Bush should not be the ones making the feeding tube decision, and still favor their law to allow federal courts to review the matter. I don't think that such a view would be unusual. Most people seem to be in favor of allowing federal court review of death penalty cases, whether they are for or against capital punishment laws.

The second question got 75% of the respondents saying that the government should stay out of the matter. If taken literally, that means that 75% of the public oppose Judge Greer's starvation order.

Bob says that can't be right, and claims that people answering the question regard (falsely) that the government includes Congress, the President, the Florida legislature, and the governor, but not the state and federal judges. I cannot imagine why anyone would think that. They are all essential parts of the government.

I think that it is more likely that most people think that such decisions are ideally made by the patient or her spouse or family, and that they should not be litigated.


The judicial supremacists will cheer when Terri Shiavo dies:
The message is a blunt and welcome rejection of a crude maneuver by Congress. While judges have a duty to interpret and apply the law as Congress writes it, they also have a duty to stand up to politicians when the law so requires. Perhaps the only happy outcome of this most unhappy case is that the federal judiciary did not let itself become an instrument of political manipulation.
I don't see how anyone could be happy with judges, when they took 10 years to decide the case, and appear to have overlooked some factual issues.

Thursday, Mar 24, 2005
Living Will
Andy sends this:
Living Will (or Self-Defense Against Judges Trying to Kill Me)

If I am incapacitated, then:

  • no physician shall be permitted to examine me for the purpose of legal proceedings who has not sworn to uphold the original Oath of Hippocrates, or belongs to an organization that subscribes to it (such as the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons).
  • I consent to the provision of food, water, or medical care by any volunteer and object to any governmental interference with the same.
  • I disapprove of guardianship of me by a spouse who has entered into a long-term adulterous relationship, and also object to any hearsay submitted by that spouse about my intentions.
  • I consent to care by any parent or child of mine who files legal papers to do so, and object to any judicial interference with it.

    Signed by:

    Witnessed by:

  • You can find a more conventional one here.
    Correcting mutant hothead genes
    This NY Times story claims that scientists have disproved a central premise of the theory of evolution. They showed that normal mustard plants can result from parents with mutant hothead genes. They claim that human babies also may be getting genes from some source other than the DNA of their parents.

    It is not a total loss for the theory of evolution. The new results might explain the Darwinian fitness of bdelloid rotifers that are renowned for not having had sex for millions of years.

    No, it is not April Fool's Day yet. This appears to be a legitimate story.

    Chris writes:

    Your comments indicate how little you understand the scientific method and the theory of Evolution. There is no individual finding which can disprove the premise of Evolution. The very nature of the theory allows new findings to revise and correct the current thinking of the process that leads to life’s existence. No scientific theory is so brittle and inflexible to collapse upon new and exciting developments. (Well there are some such theories, but they quickly find their place on history’s garbage heap.)

    The fact that there is a mechanism to allow the genomes of individual plants to restore themselves is fascinating information. Upon reflection, a mechanism that has evolved to help protect species from catastrophic mutation would seem inevitable. We know that most mutations are fatal. Many of the core sections of the DNA of all life share large sections of identical genes, as well as poorly understood replicated sections of the same genes. A backup system relying on RNA, the earliest genetic material would have huge utility. Selection for organisms that continue to maintain this backup system would seem obvious.

    This wonderful discovery strengthens and extends our understanding of life and in turn the process that lead to the creation of life. It is unlikely that we will know how life started. It is certain that at least once it did occur. Moreover, the historical record shows that life began as soon (geologically speaking) as the conditions permitted its existence. As a curious social species, Humans are trying to understand the physical process that lead to life and its explosion into the myriad forms we see around us.

    Extending the Theory of Evolution is a simple game with one rule anyone can play. The only explanations allowed are those that involve physical actions obeying the rules of Physics. Anyone can bring forward any explanation that explains the current state of life on this planet as long as you only invoke physical processes that exist today. Imaginary friends are not allowed in this game.

    Mike writes:
    In his latest Scarboroughesque twisting of the truth, Roger blogs:

    "This NY Times story claims that scientists have disproved a central premise of the theory of evolution."

    Hogwash!!!! The NYT article quite clearly points out that the finding in question challenges Mendel's laws of inheritance NOT evolution:

    "If confirmed, it would represent an unprecedented exception to the laws of inheritance discovered by Gregor Mendel in the 19th century."

    In fact, the only reference to evolution is in this paragraph and they find a scientist to deny the finding impacts any Darwinian theory:

    "The finding poses a puzzle for evolutionary theory because it corrects mutations, which evolution depends on as generators of novelty. Dr. Meyerowitz said he did not see this posing any problem for evolution because it seems to happen only rarely. "What keeps Darwinian evolution intact is that this only happens when there is something wrong," Dr. Surridge said."

    What they do say the finding "undercuts" is why sex is believed to be necessary: "The finding could undercut a leading theory of why sex is necessary." I think that what Roger's comments illustrate is that sex among the religious right is not only unnecessary, it's a danger to the continued growth in intelligence of the human species.

    Mendel's "laws of inheritance" are NOT "evolution!"

    Of course the evolutionists are never going to admit that there are any flaws in their theory, no matter how much contrary evidence is found.

    Blaming the Purdue discovery on Mendel is curious. Mendel knew nothing about DNA. Mendel observed certain generation-skipping traits in peas that were eventually explained in terms of recessive genes in DNA.

    Now these mutant hotheads come along (and no, I am not referring to Chris and Mike!) The Purdue scientists observed some generation skipping traits that were vaguely similar to what Mendel observed, but they claim that the genes causing the traits were not recessive genes or even anywhere in the DNA of the parent plants. If this discovery is confirmed, then it is a big deal because it threatens the notion that all of the genetic information is carried by DNA from one generation to the next.

    The Purdue group doesn't seem to have any good explanation as to how the mutant hothead genes got corrected. Based on what Chris says, I guess the paper would not have been published if it had mentioned hypothetical imaginary friends.

    Anti-evolutionists may also be interested in this news story:

    Scientists could turn Jurassic Park fiction into fact after extracting what look like blood vessels and cells from a Tyrannosaurus rex, it was disclosed yesterday. ...

    Dr Mary Schweitzer, from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, in the United States, who led the team, told the journal Science: "It was totally shocking. I didn't believe it until we'd done it 17 times."

    I still don't believe it. The T-rex died 70 million years ago.

    Update: The NY Times now editorializes:

    No one can object if Imax theaters, whether commercial or located in museums, turned down the deep sea film in the belief that it was too boring to draw much of an audience, as some managers indicated. But it is surely unacceptable for science museums to reject the film in part because some people in test audiences complained that the material was blasphemous.
    So science museums are obligated to offend people with blasphemous movies at any opportunity? This is just more evidence that the evolutionist-atheist lobby wants to use science education as a tool for humiliating religious folks.

    Tuesday, Mar 22, 2005
    The ONLY 7 Star Hotel in the world
    Be sure and stay at this hotel, if you visit Dubai and you have money to burn.
    Fewer college sports quotas
    The Bush administration has relaxed the rules on college sport team sex quotas. The AP story says:
    The Education Department has given universities a new way to prove they offer women equal sports opportunity, triggering some criticism the Bush administration is undermining a landmark anti-discrimination law.

    The federal government has created an Internet-based survey that schools can use to show they are accommodating the athletic interests and abilities of women on campus. Schools have long been able to comply with the Title IX law by proving they have met the sports interests of women, but never before has the government endorsed and promoted a way to measure that.

    Here is the text of the guidance, which purports to offer an "additional clarification" of the third prong of the three-part test. Here is the USA Today story.

    Most college athletic programs comply with Title IX regulations by having an academic proportionality quota. That is, the sex of students participating in varsity sports must be in proportion to those taking academic courses.

    Today's USA demographics are that more girls than boys attend college classes, and more boys than girls want to participate in varsity sports. That is a fact. It is crazy to drop a sport like wrestling in order to meet negative quotas. It would make more sense to drop departments like English and Psychology because too many girls major in them.

    Monday, Mar 21, 2005
    Computers are bad for students
    News from London:
    The less pupils use computers at school and at home, the better they do in international tests of literacy and maths, the largest study of its kind says today.

    The findings raise questions over the [UK] Government's decision, announced by Gordon Brown in the Budget last week, to spend another £1.5 billion on school computers, in addition to the £2.5 billion it has already spent.

    Computers at home distracted pupils from doing homework

    Mr Brown said: "The teaching and educational revolution is no longer blackboards and chalk, it is computers and electronic whiteboards."

    However, the study, published by the Royal Economic Society, said: "Despite numerous claims by politicians and software vendors to the contrary, the evidence so far suggests that computer use in schools does not seem to contribute substantially to students' learning of basic skills such as maths or reading."

    Indeed, the more pupils used computers, the worse they performed, said Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Wossmann of Munich University.

    Buying lots of computers is just another example of schools looking for ways to waste money.
    No credit for Bush
    For a couple of years, the Bush-haters told us that the Iraq War had nothing to do with WMD, but with some delusional neocon conspiracy to bring democracy to the Middle East.

    Now the Bush-haters acknowledge that there is actually some hope for bringing democracy to the Middle East, but that Bush shouldn't get any credit because he was really just interested in WMD, or exploiting 9-11, or something else. Eg, see this article.

    Saturday, Mar 19, 2005
    Volcano propaganda
    An Imax science movie titled "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" ought to be non-controversial, but test-marketing showed that some people were offended by some blasphemous comments about the origin of life on Earth. Others thought that the movie was boring, and not very entertaining. The leftist funders of the movie refuse to change it, because they want to preserve the pro-evolution message. So some Imax theatres will not show it. The NY Times thinks that this is a scandal.

    Bob writes:

    Next thing you know these alarmists will claim that wackos will be protesting and demonstrating when people make life and death medical decisions about their families.
    Here is a typical evolutionist defense of the film:
    The fundamentalists and Galileo
    The Church made him renounce his teachings... turned out he was right and they were wrong. Those that lead their life based on beliefs and dogma rather than observations and the facts that come from them need to be eradicated from this planet for the better of it.
    No, the conflict between Galileo and the Church was not so simple, and eradicating people for their beliefs will not improve the planet.

    Friday, Mar 18, 2005
    Debate on judicial nominees
    John mocks my suggestion that the Senate Repubs have a public debate on just why they want these judicial nominees, and make the Demos explain just why they are opposed. They won't do that. I think that both sides in the Senate are avoiding the real issues.
    After four years of haggling over these judicial vacancies, you say we still need more debate. You still haven't heard enough from the likes of Schumer, Durbin, Leahy, Boxer, and Kennedy. Youe want to hear them explain yet again, ad nauseam, "just why they are opposed."

    I for one have heard enough. It's long past time to end the debate and bring these nominations to a vote.

    This National Review Online article is the answer to anyone who thinks we still need more debate on judicial nominees.

    No, I don't think that the public knows what the issues are. I watched some of the last filibuster. Senators gave boring speech about irrelevancies like ABA endorsements, judicial experience, law school grades, other nominations approved, etc. Anything but the real issues.

    I happen to think that the real issue is judicial supremacy. But I have yet to hear it from one senator on either side.

    I don't think that the Repubs can win on this issue if they are unable or unwilling to articulate what they are fighting for.

    Turns the mind to mush
    Ed Felton's blog says that porn politics turns the mind to mush.

    I think that he is right. When people debate the merits of internet filtering, neither side wants to be honest about what can and cannot be done.

    Teachers blaming parents
    Here is a teacher study that shows teachers griping about discipline problems in the schools. No mention of corporal punishment.
    Shaken baby syndrome
    Andy writes:
    Another big lie is the "shaken baby syndrome" (SBS), which claims that a child can be shaken to death without any external impact or injury to the neck. Every day someone in our country is charged or convicted based on this scam. One study (Duhaime model) showed this was biomechanically impossible, yet the child abuse industry forges ahead. The worst perpetrators are soaking up big grants for this at prestigious universities, fueling the child protective services folks.

    Here's an abstract of an article designed to suppress evidence in trials about how SBS is impossible.

    They ought to have some good scientific evidence before they send parents to prison.
    Men differ from women
    Liza sends this LA Times article, which includes:
    All told, men and women may differ by as much as 2 percent of their entire genetic inheritance. That degree of difference is greater than the hereditary gap between humankind and its closest relative - the chimpanzee.
    Differences between men and women are undeniable. They include differences in brain function. No one could deny them, except maybe a feminist Princeton president.
    The science of the unknown
    Real scientists don't just tell you what is known; they can also tell you what is unknown to modern science. Here is a list of 13 things that do not make sense.

    The examples are almost all in the hard sciences. Psychologists and evolutionists just won't admit what they do not know.

    Bob writes:

    False. The debates among scientists about the unknown aspects of evolution are just as vigorous as the debates about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, for example. The other similarity is that both in the case of evolution and quantum mechanics there is no scientific alternative which explains the known observations. The differences are that progress in understanding evolution has been far faster in the last 50 years than progress in physics and fortunately for physicists there is no religious theory which is an alternative to quantum mechanics. Biology is being used as a stalking horse by groups which want religion taught in public schools.
    The debate over the interpretation of quantum mechanics is more of a philosophical rather than scientific debate. Yes, there are evolutionists who are fond of various philosophical debates, such as whether evolution is algorithmic or contingent or progressive or egalitarian or gradual.

    The Tao of Physics was a popular book that offered an Eastern religious alternative and explanation to quantum mechanics.

    I think that it is funny how evolutionists alternate between saying that evolution was established by Darwin as a scientific fact 150 years ago, and saying that current research is just now figuring out how it works and that we'll all know the true story real soon now.

    Marbury v Madison
    Here is another conservative who thinks that the problems with the USA courts are rooted in an 1803 decision.
    Perhaps judicial review wasn't such a great idea after all. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall assumed the power of judicial review over acts of the legislature. According to Marshall, the Constitution vested in the Supreme Court the ability to overturn legitimately enacted laws if those laws conflicted with the Constitution itself.

    It is anything but clear that the Constitution meant to create the power of judicial review. Marshall's opinion is full of holes, both textual and logical. As Judge Learned Hand stated, Marshall's opinion "will not bear scrutiny." Professor Alexander Bickel of Yale University agreed in his work "The Least Dangerous Branch": "The opinion is very vulnerable."

    ... The Supreme Court has consistently, for the past 50-odd years at the very least, substituted its judgment for the judgment of the people, without regard to the Constitution.

    No, that case was an example of judicial restraint, because the court merely refused to issue an order that it thought would be unconstitutional. The problems of the last 50 years were caused by the judicial supremacists on the Warren Court.

    Tuesday, Mar 15, 2005
    Ebbers convicted
    Andy writes:
    The nearly communist venue of the Southern District of New York, where pro-government procedures and jealousy of wealth reigns supreme, just nabbed another victim: Bernie Ebbers, guilty on all counts, and facing life in jail. His face turned bright red at the verdict; his wife burst into tears.

    At one point the jury asked to see documents that didn't exist in evidence.

    That's the same venue that convicted John Rigas for living extravagantly and generously. After his conviction, his cable company became the first in the country to pipe hard-core, triple X porn into the subscribers' homes. Rigas wouldn't allow it when he was in charge.

    Samuel Waksal, a brilliant scientist working on cures for cancer, agreed to spend the rest of his productive life in jail just to avoid subjecting his family to that venue.

    That venue was the one that refused to convict Alger Hiss in his first trial.

    Forbes reports that the federal conviction rate for securities fraud in that venue is nearly 100%.

    No rational basis for the marriage law
    The SF paper promotes yesterday's same-sex marriage ruling:
    As the case begins the appeal process, one central issue is sure to be Kramer's eye-catching conclusion that there is no rational basis for the marriage law. ...

    Herma Hill Kay, a Boalt Hall professor of family law and author of California's no-fault divorce law, said Kramer's ruling fairly demolished the rationale offered by organizations opposing same-sex marriage: that the current law encourages procreation and childrearing by a husband and wife.

    "I've never thought there was a good answer to the fact that if procreation is the primary purpose of marriage, we've never prohibited heterosexual couples who didn't want to or couldn't procreate from getting married,'' she said.

    That makes perfect sense. The Berkeley law prof who wrote the California no-fault divorce law sees no rational basis to our marriage law. I've always suspected as much! I am surprised to hear her admit it.

    Kay once wrote a brief supporting Roe v Wade. She is currently teaching these courses:

    281 - Family Law (Spring 2005)
    The course provides a basic introduction to laws designed to regulate the formation of intimate relationships between adults, including marriage and cohabitation. It also covers family dissolution, with an emphasis on the custody and support of children and spousal support. ...

    284.1A - Sex-Based Discrimination (Spring 2005)
    The course examines the validity of distinctions based on sex in U.S. law, in light of their history, underlying policies, and social context. ...

    She has no publications on her web site. It doesn't say whether she is lesbian, or married, or what. Here are some of her views on same-sex marriage.

    Kay surely thinks that a pregnant woman has an absolute privacy right to have an abortion. But she pretends to wonder why newlyweds cannot be forced to commit to having children?!

    The marriage law rationale is not that complicated. The state has no ability to determine whether a male-female couple will have children. The state has traditionally encouraged child-bearing couples to get married in order to protect the legal rights of th children. Those protections have been partially negated by the no-fault divorce law, but they still exist.

    It is true that a same-sex lesbian couple can have an illegitimate child, but there is no reason the state should encourage such activities. Children do best, and cause the fewest problems for the state, when they are raised by their natural fathers and mothers.

    The Purpose-Driven Life
    The Purpose-Driven Life, a book by Rick Warren, just had its Amazon sales rank shoot from number 57 to 2 in one day. The book has a message that apparently reached the Atlanta judge murderer. Hostage Ashley Smith has an amazing story.
    The Population Bomb
    Stanford prof and scaremonger Paul R. Ehrlich writes in the NY Times:
    As Nicholas D. Kristof writes, I said in "The Population Bomb": "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." Indeed, the battle goes on, and we're still losing.

    Since "The Population Bomb" was written in 1968, conservatively 200 million people have starved to death. As the Food and Agriculture Organization's 2004 annual hunger report pointed out, hunger and malnutrition kill more than five million children every year.

    Bob responds this article:
    Amartya Sen, a Nobel Laureate in economics, demonstrated empirically that no famine - mass starvation leading to mass death - ever occurred in a democratically governed country.
    and he says:
    My suggestion for solving the problem of famine is that any country which has a famine goes on the regime change list. People who complain about famine will then have something productive to do. They can volunteer to kick out the bad regime which is causing the famine.
    I don't think that the world has seen a real famine since the 1800s.

    Monday, Mar 14, 2005
    Photons with incredible speed
    Sci. American reports:
    Telescopes around the world recorded the brightest explosion ever detected in our galaxy, which sent x-rays and gamma rays careening outward at incredible speeds, astronomers announced on Friday.
    Yes, photons travel at the speed of light. Here and elsewhere.
    Perfecting the theory
    Wash Post on teaching evolution:
    Meyer said he and Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman devised the compromise strategy in March 2002 when they realized a dispute over intelligent design was complicating efforts to challenge evolution in the classroom. They settled on the current approach that stresses open debate and evolution's ostensible weakness, but does not require students to study design.

    The idea was to sow doubt about Darwin and buy time for the 40-plus scientists affiliated with the institute to perfect the theory, Meyer said. Also, by deferring a debate about whether God was the intelligent designer, the strategy avoids the defeats suffered by creationists who tried to oust evolution from the classroom and ran afoul of the Constitution.

    I don't think that either side will be perfecting a theory any time soon.
    Leftist bias of media
    Study shows anti-Bush bias:
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. media coverage of last year's election was three times more likely to be negative toward President Bush than Democratic challenger John Kerry, according to a study released Monday.

    The annual report by a press watchdog that is affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said that 36 percent of stories about Bush were negative compared to 12 percent about Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.

    Only 20 percent were positive toward Bush compared to 30 percent of stories about Kerry that were positive, according to the report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

    No doubt the news media will justify this by saying that there was more negative news about Bush.

    Sunday, Mar 13, 2005
    Death of Environmentalism
    As an intellectual force today, environmentalism is dead.
    Harvard elitists
    Here is news from Harvard.
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - A Harvard University student's fledgling dorm-cleaning business faced the threat of a campus boycott on Thursday after the school's daily newspaper slammed it for dividing students along economic lines.

    The Harvard Crimson newspaper urged students to shun Dormaid, a business launched by Harvard sophomore Michael Kopko that cleans up for messy students.

    "By creating yet another differential between the haves and have-nots on campus, Dormaid threatens our student unity," the Crimson said in an editorial.

    "We urge the student body to boycott Dormaid."

    It is amazing how leftist Harvard elitists can pretend that they are not elitists. The main reason they goto Harvard is to distinguish themselves from the have-nots in our society.

    Saturday, Mar 12, 2005
    Reservists do battle in family court
    The San Diego Union-Tribune has been syndicating Phyllis Schlafly's column since 1977, and now it has finally printed one of them:
    Most reservists called upon to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan have paid a big price: a significant reduction of their wages as they transferred from civilian to military jobs, separation from their loved ones, and of course the risk of battle wounds or death. Regrettably, on their return home, those who are divorced fathers could face other grievous penalties: loss of their children, financial ruin, prosecution as "deadbeat dads" and even jail.
    One critic says:
    I have no sympathy for men who are still held accountable for their actions of choosing to have children and go off to war.
    Usually when Phyllis's critics talk about "choosing to have children", the only choice they mean is the woman's choice regarding whether or not to have an abortion. The father is not involved in that choice.

    I realize that we have a volunteer army, and not everyone agrees with the Iraq War, but it is very strange for any American to suggest that a man is shirking his responsibilities by reporting for military duty and being sent off to fight a foreign war.

    Another letter from Amy Redding says:

    I am outraged by Schlafly's commentary. ... Schlafly's inflammatory article baits a war of the sexes. I guess she thinks we do not have enough division, war and suffering children in this country.
    I am outraged too, but she is blaming the wrong party. The war of the sexes has been fueled primarily by feminism, and Phyllis has spent of her career trying to quell male-female conflicts.

    John sends these links to positive comments: http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_03_06_corner-archive.asp#057990 http://www.theagitator.com/archives/019529.php#019529 http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=51&PHPSESSID=a54df9d1e16bcc3e85dbf2e81be88f2a http://www.childsbestinterest.org/ http://www.freeconservatives.com/vb/showthread.php?t=19762 http://www.fathers.ca/two_year's_in_iraq_for_fathers.htm http://www.blogsforbush.com/mt/archives/003928.html http://www.digitalbrownpajamas.com/digital_brownpajamas/2005/02/support_our_tro.html http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2005/03/returning_from.html http://www.harrysnews.com/tgReservistSoldiersTreatedLikeDirt.htm

    Criticizing evolutionists
    This Fred Reed essay explains a lot of what is wrong with evolutionism.
    Second, evolution seemed more a metaphysics or ideology than a science. The sciences, as I knew them, gave clear answers. Evolution involved intense faith in fuzzy principles. You demonstrated chemistry, but believed evolution. If you have ever debated a Marxist, or a serious liberal or conservative, or a feminist or Christian, you will have noticed that, although they can be exceedingly bright and well informed, they display a maddening imprecision. You never get a straight answer if it is one they do not want to give. Nothing is ever firmly established. Crucial assertions do not to tie to observable reality. ...

    Third, evolutionists are obsessed by Christianity and Creationism, with which they imagine themselves to be in mortal combat. This is peculiar to them. Note that other sciences, such as astronomy and geology, even archaeology, are equally threatened by the notion that the world was created in 4004 BC. Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny. Thus the fury of their response to skepticism.

    I found it pointless to tell them that I wasn’t a Creationist. They refused to believe it. If they had, they would have had to answer questions that they would rather avoid. Like any zealots, they cannot recognize their own zealotry. Thus their constant classification of skeptics as enemies (a word they often use)—of truth, of science, of Darwin, of progress.

    (I found it quoted at Team Hammer.) It is bad enough that the evolutionists are so unscientific, but they are really unbearable when they start lecturing us on what is and is not science. You know that they are not real scientists when they defend their positions by launching into idiosyncratic definitions of common terms like science and theory.
    Hate speech
    Here is a Contra Costa editorial against hate speech:
    Hate based on skin color and/or ethnic and cultural differences still festers among us. It's an aggressive monster that actively seeks putrefaction like itself so it may commune and spawn. It spreads like a fungus, seeking to multiply.

    The Internet has been a fertile ground for groups to plant evil seeds. As ways to interact on the Internet's have grown, so grow the hate groups. Online communities, which so innocently attempt to bring like-minded individuals together for virtual socializing, created a nice breeding ground for venom.

    No, it is not talking about Ward Churchill or MoveOn.org. It is attacking Google for failing to censor some private discussions.

    Friday, Mar 11, 2005
    Google v Yahoo
    The Google lovers amaze me. They seem wildly impressed that Google now has mail, weather, maps, and customizable news. Yahoo has had all these features for years, and many others. Yahoo search is even as good as Google now.

    I like Google, and I am glad to see them give Yahoo some competition, but Google is overrated and overvalued. Google and Yahoo have about the same market value, but Yahoo has a better and broader range of services.

    (Note: I have another blog on Blogspot.com, owned by Google.)

    Racist convict not to blame
    The man who murdered family members of Chicago judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow has just been caught, and all of the finger-pointing at so-called hate groups turned out to be wrong. Everyone was blaming Matt Hale, the former leader of a fringe group called the World Church of the Creator, even tho Hale was in prison and Judge Lefkow actually tried to rule in his favor.

    Hale is serving an up to 40-year prison term for threatening to kill Judge Lefkow, but the case against him was very strange. The evidence against him was an ambiguous tape from an FBI sting operation. The feds said that Hale was speaking in code. It sounds fishy to me.

    St. Louis dentist Tom Sell was also charged with conspiring to kill a federal agent based on extremely flimsy evidence. I believe that Tom Sell is innocent. He has been held in prison for about 6 years without a trial. He also belonged to a political group with politically incorrect racial views. I am suspicious that there might be some systematic attempt to bust up racist groups by framing their leaders.

    Convergence of science and religion
    UC Berkeley physicist Charles Townes just won a religion prize that is worth more cash than his Nobel prize. See also USA Today. Here is the silly essay on The Convergence of Science and Religion. It doesn't look like a million dollar essay to me.

    Update: Here is a WSJ essay by him.

    Wednesday, Mar 09, 2005
    Unethical business school applicants
    John sends this AP story:
    On Monday, Harvard became the second school, after Carnegie Mellon, to announce its blanket rejection of any applicant who used a method detailed in a BusinessWeek Online forum to try to get an early glimpse at admissions decisions in top business schools.
    I think that the rejected applicants did not do anything unethical, and that they should sue the colleges.

    Harvard posted its acceptance letters on an external web site. Applicants were allowed to log in, and check their status. Someone discovered that applicants could get their decision letters before Harvard's intended release date by logging in, and requesting the letter with an appropriate URL.

    I guess Harvard Business School is a little sensitive about having educated a generation of unethical businessmen, but Harvard is blaming the wrong parties. If it didn't want the admissions decisions released, then it shouldn't have put them on an unprotected public server.

    Update: According to this Princeton prof, only rejection letters were posted. So all the applicants found out was whether a rejection letter had been posted.

    Tuesday, Mar 08, 2005
    Ready for kindergarten
    The local United Way has a well-publicized report about preparing kids for kindergarten. The biggest recommendation is that kids be sent to subsidized preschool so that they will be ready for kindergarten.

    The study did not even look at the possibility of parents teaching their kids. The closest it got was to quote another source to say:

    Additionally, it is crucial for young children to have literacy experiences prior to entering school, because “failing to give children literacy experiences until they are school age can severely limit the reading and writing levels they ultimately attain”.
    That is because schools do a lousy job of teaching kindergarten. My kindergarten child complains that the only books she gets at school are "too easy". Teaching 5-year-olds is not hard. There is research that shows what methods work best. The schools just have to follow it. It is pathetic that they have to rely on the parents to do what the teachers should be doing.
    Merck lied about vaccines
    Malkin's blog says:
    Myron Levin of the Los Angeles Times reports:

    Drug maker Merck & Co. continued to supply infant vaccine containing a mercury-based preservative [thimerosal] for two years after declaring that it had eliminated the chemical.

    In September 1999, amid rising concern about the risks of mercury in childhood vaccines, Merck announced that the Food and Drug Administration had approved a preservative-free version of its hepatitis B vaccine.

    "Now, Merck's infant vaccine line," the company's press release said, "is free of all preservatives."

    But Merck continued to distribute vaccine containing the chemical known as thimerosal, along with the new product, until October 2001, according to an FDA letter sent in response to a congressional inquiry....

    The vaccine was supposed to be pulled because it exposed babies to mercury in excess of govt guidelines.

    More info about mercury in vaccines can be found at www.nvic.org.

    Thursday, Mar 03, 2005
    Superstrings in space
    This article claims that we see 2 identical galaxies because of a giant superstring from another dimension.

    Roger Penrose, one of the most brilliant mathematical physicists alive, doesn't believe in string theory.

    Tuesday, Mar 01, 2005
    Soldiers become deadbeat dads
    This Human Events column says:
    Most reservists called upon to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan have paid a big price: a significant reduction of their wages as they transferred from civilian to military jobs, separation from their loved ones, and of course the risk of battle wounds or death. Regrettably, on their return home, those who are divorced fathers could face other grievous penalties: loss of their children, financial ruin, prosecution as "deadbeat dads" and even jail.
    Remember this when you hear about deadbeat dads.
    Supremacist alert
    The US Supreme Court just outlawed the juvenile death penalty, 5-4, reversing a 1989 decision on point. Note especially Kennedy's reliance on the law in other countries in part IV. Here are some excerpts:
    Yet at least from the time of the Court's decision in Trop, the Court has referred to the laws of other countries and to international authorities as instructive for its interpretation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments."

    As respondent and a number of amici emphasize, Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which every country in the world has ratified save for the United States and Somalia, contains an express prohibition on capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles under 18.

    As of now, the United Kingdom has abolished the death penalty in its entirety; but, decades before it took this step, it recognized the disproportionate nature of the juvenile death penalty; and it abolished that penalty as a separate matter.

    It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime. See Brief for Human Rights Committee of the Bar of England and Wales et al. as Amici Curiae 10-11. The opinion of the world community, while not controlling our outcome, does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions.

    Just a couple of years ago, I believe that the Supreme Court intended to make this ruling, but chickened out because of the popularity of the pending death penalty charge against the 17-year-old DC sniper. But now that the DC sniper will probably not get the death penalty anyway, they figured that the timing was better now.
    Schwarzenegger amendment
    I'm going to have to ask my mom about this Mercury News letter:
    A special-interest amendment

    I think it's curious that the same people who oppose civil rights for gays and opposed the Equal Rights Amendment for women now want to amend the Constitution to benefit just one person, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Talk about your special interest.

    Mark Nelson
    San Jose

    I doubt that there are any such people. I believe that Schwarzenegger maintains an active Austrian passport and claims dual citizenship. I really doubt that any of the Stop ERA folks would want to amend the Constitution to allow an Austrian citizen to run for President of the USA.

    Bob writes:

    About a year ago I ran into some people from Vermont who wanted to know why we had to go outside the country to find a Governor. The staircase wit was that having a governor from another country was an improvement over having a governor from another planet like Davis.
    Schwarzenegger has been a whole lot more effective than Davis. It is amazing, since conventional wisdom was that Davis was much more intelligent, had vastly more political experience, had strong support from the majority party in California, and had every other advantage.