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Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Deep Throat
The press is accepting the story that Mark Felt was the infamous Watergater leaker code-named Deep Throat. I am skeptical. There have been published rumors about Felt since 1974, and he probably leaked some info. But there are a number of holes in the story, and neither Felt nor the Wash. Post is clearing them up. I think that Deep Throat was a fictional character that was created to sell the Woodward-Bernstein book.

Assuming that Felt did leak details of a confidential FBI investigation because he hated Pres. Nixon, then he was irresponsible and criminal. He should have been prosecuted along with John Dean and the others.

Definitions of science
Chris writes:
Show me anywhere where evolution relies upon peculiar definitions of science. Evolutionary work is full of repeatable experiments, such as the extensive work with fruit flies that I have mentioned before. Fossils are available for all to examine and to use to support or refute other scientist’s interpretation of them. You are going to have to provide a “broad definitions that include giving explanations for nature” that are rejected out of hand by evolutionary scientists.

“Creationism” is the thesis that the biblical description provided by Genesis is allegorically true and states that the Judeo-Christian God created the earth and all of the life on it, including humans. This is religion because, as of yet, no one has been able to devise an experimental means of proving, or disproving, God’s existence. (Though I would recommend you look at some of the current threads on the Evangelical Outpost Blog for attempts to do just that.)

“Intelligent design” is the thesis that there are structures in life too complex to have been created purely by random chance. It is an offshoot of Creationism and again fails to provide a mechanism for the designer that is provable by a mechanism other than faith. Further is glosses over the many more designs in nature that are clearly sub optimal and thus begs the question why would a designer leave so many bad designs lying around when there are clearly better solutions.

I would be interested to hear you cite any other criticism of evolution other than these two since I have not heard of them but I would be interested to hear of them.

I just listened to a lecture on global warming from a prof who spent half her time repeating that there is no scientific criticism of "climate change", and attacking Michael Crichton. Sure, no one disputes that the climate can change, and her protestations were hiding legitimate controversies related to global warming.

Likewise, evolutionists like define evolution as change, and they include any changes in the history of the universe. Even the Big Bang and the early history of the Solar System is part of evolution. Evolution is divided into biological evolution and non-biological evolution. Defined that way, I agree that there is no criticism of evolution.

Here is a discussion with various definitions of biological (or Darwinian or neo-Darwinian) evolution. One of the definitions is "descent with modification". Some textbook definitions are longer, but they mainly just say that populations of organisms exhibit change over time.

Nader wants impeachment
Ralph Nader cites the Downing Street Memo:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
and argues for impeaching Bush:
The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"
The simple answer is No.
Bad books
Here is a Conservative list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Bob writes:

Origin of the Species is claimed to be worse than Foucault or Coming of Age in Samoa. Too bad it didn't make the top 10 so they would have to state the rational for the bad rating. If evolution were properly taught, more people would realize that it is right wing.
If evolution were taught properly, then it would not be so harmful.

There are some idiotic comments here. They point out that the list overlooks the Harry Potter books, Catcher In The Rye, and the Warren Commission Report.

Sunday, May 29, 2005
Judges v Democracy
John sends this John Leo column:
Here is the dominant Republican concern in two short sentences, as framed by blogger Mickey Kaus (a conservative Democrat, as it happens): "In the post-Warren era, judges . . . have almost uncheckable antidemocratic power. The Constitution has been durably politicized in a way that the Framers didn't anticipate." Burt Neuborne of New York University law school said recently that his fellow Democrats may be making a mistake by depending so heavily on judges to establish law without seeking true public support.

Well, that's one way of putting it. Another is simply to say that the Democrats consistently rely on judges to impose legislation that they can't get through the normal democratic process because majorities don't want it. As a result, our politics and our courts have been deformed. A contempt for majorities keeps growing on the left, and contempt for the courts keeps rising on the right. Megan McArdle, the sensible blogger at Asymmetrical Information, says Republicans are determined to pack the court because "it is the only way Democrats have left them to undo the quasi-legislation that liberal judges wrote."

I can shorten the concern to two words: Judicial Supremacy.

Saturday, May 28, 2005
Trying to censor a cosmology movie
The NY Times is upset that:
Smithsonian to Screen a Movie That Makes a Case Against Evolution

Fossils at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History have been used to prove the theory of evolution. Next month the museum will play host to a film intended to undercut evolution.

But the Smithsonian is just allowing a private showing for a fee, and the movie is about cosmology:
Elsewhere, you might learn that Earth and its local environment provide a delicate, and probably exceedingly rare, cradle for complex life. But there's another, even more startling, fact, described in The Privileged Planet: those same rare conditions that produce a habitable planet-that allow for the existence of complex observers like ourselves-also provide the best overall place for observing. What does this mean? At the least, it turns our view of the universe inside out. The universe is not "pointless" (Steven Weinberg), Earth merely "a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark," (Carl Sagan) and human existence "just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents" (Steven Weinberg). On the contrary, the evidence we can uncover from our Earthly home points to a universe that is designed for life, and designed for discovery.
This is a typical leftist-evolutionist-atheist attack. If anyone merely suggests that life has a purpose, then the evolutionists want to censor him, and brand him an enemy of science and evolution. In this case, it appears that the movie doesn't even have anything to do with Darwinian evolution.

Chris says:

Since the quote is a direct blurb from the movie website and takes the comments it chooses out of context it can hardly be considered “typical leftist-evolutionist-atheist attack” whatever that may be. (Rather like the time I was accused of being a “fascist-communist” while discussing hand gun control.)

The argument that is propounded in the movie is along the lines of intelligent design and from the same source. Life, as we know it, could not exist without the unique circumstances of our reality. The big-bang could have created a physical reality in which the laws of physics would be slightly different. This is like saying if I had been born to different parents, I would be a different person. Well, duh!!!

This is another argument in the classic proof of predestination. If anything else could have happened it would have, thus nothing else is possible. We cannot possibly know that life is impossible in any other configuration of physical laws until we create a universe with those characteristics and wait to see if life occurs. (I am willing to say that that will not happen in my lifetime.) Therefore, it is impossible to say that life can only occur in the current universe because there is no way to know.

The only thing we know for sure is that life has occurred in this universe on this planet. If others want to take it as an article of faith that, the Judeo-Christian God caused it to happen, then have at it. What they cannot do is say that that needs to be taught in a science course because it is not science. It is religion or personal belief.

Your comments relate to the Anthropic principle. It is a controversy on the fringe of science. If a school were to teach this principle, then I think that it should say that it is controversial, and that the scientific views on it are not the only ones.

Update: Because of leftist-evolutionist-atheist pressure on the Smithsonian to censor the cosmology film, it is showing the film for free. I guess the evolutionists decided that it would be bad for a museum to accept money from an organization suspected of trying to promote a belief in God.

More on evolutionists
Bob writes:
You may be able to find a few evolutionists who say the things you claim. This proves nothing. Most of your complaints are about the personal, rather than scientific, opinions of scientists, which are irrelevant. Definitions of evolution are in the province of philosophy of science. The Darwin quote in the piece by Dawkins you link to gives one way of falsifying evolution. Given your straw-man claims about what Dawkins said in that piece I am not surprised that you ignore it. Evolution predicts that there will be no fossils of rabbits found before a specified date. Evolution predicted that all living things would share genes. Evolution predicted that the more distantly related species are, the more differences there are in shared genes. Failure of these predictions would put evolution in doubt. You persist in mentioning observations which put evolution in doubt but refuse to cite them. You have yet to give a scientific argument against evolution. Your arguments are political and philosophical. Scientists reject theories that rely on the supernatural and theories which are capable of explaining any possible observation. Even philosophers agree that this is a defining property of science. I guess that you are shocked that academicians tend to be left wing. People who get their money from the government tend to be left wing. The beauty of science is that it weeds out ideas with nothing to back them up but ideology and politics. If religious people didn't make false claims and bogus arguments which disillusion people there would be fewer atheists.
When the evolutionists took over the Kansas school board in 2001, they made the following change to the science curriculum:
Old standard: "Learn about falsification. Example: What would we accept as proof that the theory that all cars are black is wrong? How many times would we have to prove the theory wrong to know that it is wrong? Answers: One car of any color but black and only one time. No matter how much evidence seems to support a theory, it only takes one proof that it is false to show it to be false. It should be recognized that in the real world it might take years to falsify a theory."

New standard: "Share interpretations that differ from currently held explanations on topics such as global warming and dietary claims. Evaluate the validity of results and accuracy of stated conclusions."

The evolutionists eliminated the notion of falsification. The evolutionists also eliminated this section:
If a student should raise a question in a natural science class that the teacher determines to be outside the domain of science, the teacher should treat the question with respect. The teacher should explain why the question is outside the domain of natural science and encourage the student to discuss the question further with his or her family and other appropriate sources.
It seems to me that the evolutionists want to be able to teach untestable theories, and still be able to ridicule alternate theories.

A Boston Globe editorial says:
Last year, the Kansas Legislature approved a $500 million initiative to attract biotechnology companies into the state. Kansas will be less appealing to these companies if it becomes a haven for antiscientific dogmatism. Scientists would do well to join forces with business leaders to prevent that occurrence.

Evolutionary theory guides the development of flu vaccines, which change every year to cope with evolving viruses. Evolutionary theory helps to track HIV infections. Computer scientists have applied evolutionary theory to software programming. Intelligent design can make no such claims. A public education campaign ought to inform Kansans about the value of solid, time-tested science.

Evolutionary theory has no significant impact on development of flu vaccines or tracking HIV infections. Evolution has inspired some "genetic algorithms" that are indeed useful in some situations. The vast majority of the time, though, you want software that has been intelligently designed.

Friday, May 27, 2005
Ideas that must not be discussed
Richard John Neuhaus says:
Some school boards have very modestly suggested that students should know that evolution is not the only theory about the origin and development of life. What they want students to know is an indisputable fact. There are other theories supported by very reputable scientists, including theories of evolution other than the established version to which students are now bullied into giving their assent. On any question, the rational and scientific course is to take into account all pertinent evidence and explanatory proposals. We can know that the quasi-religious establishment of a narrow evolutionary theory as dogma is in deep trouble when its defenders demand that alternative ideas must not be discussed or even mentioned in the classroom. Students, school boards, and thoughtful citizens are in fully justified rebellion against this attempted stifling of intellectual inquiry.
Bob writes:
A "theory" is not a scientific theory because you, Richard John Neuhaus, and a few "reputable" scientists say it is. A theory is a scientific theory when it is based on science. It is hard work to determine whether a theory is based on science. It requires reading scientific literature, following scientific arguments, and for those of us who are not scientists, looking up words in dictionaries and glossaries. It requires understanding unfamiliar concepts and critical thinking. It requires the ability to distinguish between a scientific argument and legalistic cheap shots like those presented by you and Neuhaus. If our schools taught those skills it wouldn't matter what they taught about evolution.
Okay, but evolutionists want to use their own peculiar definition of science that no one else accepts. Evolutionists don't like traditional definitions of science in term of repeatable experiments, because they hardly have any repeatable experiments. They don't like definitions in terms of falsification, because they are not willing to admit that any observation would falsify their theories. They don't like broad definitions that include giving explanations for nature, because they might include creationism, intelligent design, or something else with potential religious overtones. The evolutionists want to define science as any leftist-atheist-materialist activity that has the support of the scientific establishment.

Thursday, May 26, 2005
Ridiculing believers
Chris writes:
No doubt, there are those who do ridicule those who believe in God (Christian, Moslem, Pantheist, Wicca, Druid, Taoist, and all others) and they may very well be leftists, evolutionists or atheists; just as there are those who, some who may well believe in God, ridicule those who believe in science. Neither group is terribly serious nor am I sure seriously involved in wanting to improve the education our children, as well as the children in Kansas. Rather they are people who live a small, self-centered existence that does not allow them much freedom or joy.

Science education does not threaten anyone’s belief in God. Neither does a belief in God threaten anyone’s understanding of evolution and the scientific search for a physical explanation of the world around us. They are, in fact, orthogonal to each other and cannot be seriously said to conflict except in people who are so insecure in their faith that they require everyone and everything to support and believe as they do.

Many serious scientists are deeply religious and hold a deeply felt profound faith in God that helps illuminate their lives and guides their actions as they live and work within the world. Many scientists hold other non-theist beliefs that help illuminate their lives and guide their actions as they live and work within the world. They continue to work diligently to understand how everything around us came to exist. I dare say that some believe that the explanation posited by Genesis in the Old Testament accurately explains the process. No serious person mocks such a belief, as it is a private matter for each person to explore and decide for him or herself. Nor would such a person mock the serious research and attempts that others make to move the science of evolution forward.

A number of reasons leave evolution open to critics. It is incomplete. Human minds have a great difficulty imagining the timescales and distances involved in an explanation that states that the universe came into existence 12 billion years ago and everything around us came from the primordial hydrogen that the big bang created. We want at a fundamental level a simpler explanation of life and our existence.

You notice that no one proposes an alternative explanation for the theory of Gravity other than the curvature of the space-time continuum even though it is not mentioned anywhere in the Old or New Testament. It is the incredible complexity of life that makes people question the theory of evolution. Even modern day critics admit that microevolution is a fact as the adaptation of insects to all modern insecticide attest. What they object to is that this sort of microevolution could possibly have given rise to human beings. Yet the critics are unable to propose any explanation that passes Occam’s razor. Each explanation for evolution other than the result of natural processes invokes some entity or power lacking a physical explanation. The argument that speciation could not be possible has been disproved by experiments with fruit flies that have produced different species that no longer can interbreed with their progenitors. The Cambrian explosion is explicable by considering the very animals that Darwin observed having differentiated in the Galapagos Islands. The geologically short time that allowed the Galapagos finches to fill many different ecological niches was at work when a new evolution of invertebrates suddenly exploded into a world empty of any serious competition.

In a world where math and science is becoming an evermore-important lynchpin of our economic success trying to pretend that, serious science is a threat to people’s belief in God is a recipe for disaster. We need to train more and more children to work with their minds rather than their hands. Teaching them that all truth is only revealed not learned is to allow other countries to produce the scientists and engineers that will power tomorrow’s world. Our hegemony that you are so proud, of will be consigned to the dustbin of history as so many empires before us. Remaking the United States into a theocracy will destroy much of what is great about this country.

People do propose goofy alternatives to the space-time continuum. There is a current Wired magazine article about one. I think that all scientific theories should be subject to criticism, including gravity and evolution.

Bob writes:

Science constrains what it is reasonable to believe as fact. It is reasonable to believe that the explanation of creation in Genesis is a useful metaphor which evokes the appropriate emotions of gratitude and reverence we should have about creation and the universe. It is not reasonable to believe the Genesis account as a scientific or historical fact. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that certain beliefs are unreasonable. Serious people are careful about what they say serious people can say.
Then you shouldn't mind when I point out that certain beliefs are unreasonable.

Chris writes:

I do not know a single scientist who thinks that any scientific thought is beyond critiscm. The major occupation of most science is to poke holes into other people?s theories as well as conducting experiments to provide data that will help to refine any theories more precisely or disprove all or part of a theory. The article you cite is a perfect example of the entire process. Lynd has found a different way of thinking about time and other scientists are excited to try to prove or disprove. Like quantum Gravity a ?chronon? has eluded experimentalist for many years despite their best efforts to determine its existence and duration. Quantum mechanics has already shown that sub atomic particles move freely forward and backward in time violating our concept of causality. That experimental result lacks a coherent theory to explain how particles can come into existence before the collision that produces them.

It might very well be that Lynd?s work will help us understand results like this. It is even possible that there will be a theorist like Einstein that will smash quantum mechanics like Einstein smashed Newtonian physics. No theory or scientific thought is immune from criticism, nor should they be.

However saying I do not like what evolution says about human beings is not a valid critisicm. Neither is saying the theory of evolution conflicts with my religious beliefs and interferes with my parental right to teach my children to have the same religious beliefs. These are not attacks upon the theory of evolution but rather on the entire principle of universal public education and the study of science. If you want to have religious beliefs taught in public schools say so. Argue the merits of that concept do not try and pretend that you find some deep flaw in a particular detail about evolution.

No, I do not want religious beliefs to be taught in public school science classes, nor do I want gratuitous attacks on religion to be taught. The Kansas school board does not want religious beliefs to be taught either.

The Kansas school debate is all about whether evolution theories should be subject to criticism. The evolutionists want evolution to be taught in a dogmatic manner, with no alternative views allowed.

Reading the Kansas report
Bob writes:
Here is one of the stories quoting Kathy Martin as not having read the standard she was voting on.

TOPEKA, Kan. - (KRT) - None of the eight intelligent design proponents who testified at the Kansas State Board of Education's evolution hearings Friday have read the science standards they want changed.

Under cross-examination, all eight admitted they simply read the 28-page minority report and not the full 107-page draft of proposed science standards, most of which is not controversial. ...

After the hearing, Martin said what she meant was she hadn't read the second draft of the science standards presented to the board March 9 because she had read the first draft.

I haven't read the whole draft either. I just read the changes that are generating the controversy.

Try asking your congressman whether he has read the USA Patriot Act.

Bob writes:

I expect more from members of a board of education than from a congressman whose primary skills are the ability to remember names and to raise funds from special interest groups.
Kansas is Scopes Trial redux
In the 1925 Scopes Trial, William Jennings Bryan testified on the witness stand, as Clarence Darrow demanded. Darrow tried to attack his beliefs:
[Bryan] refused to attempt to tell how old the earth might be, although he said: "I could possibly come as near as the scientists do."

As both interrogations and replies became faster and shorter, the attorney-general was brought forward again to ask the purpose of the examination.

"The purpose is to cast ridicule on everybody who believes in the Bible, and I am perfectly willing that the world shall know that these gentlemen have not other purpose than to ridiculing every person who believes in the Bible," declared Bryan.

"We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States, and you know it, that is all," fired back Darrow.

The two faced each other on the platform. The witness asserted:

"I am simply trying to protect the Word of God against the greatest, atheist, or agnostic, in the United States. I want the papers to know that I am not afraid to get on the stand in front of him and let him do his worst. I want the world to know that agnosticism is trying to force agnosticism on our colleges and on out schools and the people of Tennessee will not permit it to be done."

Darrow then sandbagged Scopes with a guilty plea, rather than take the stand himself, or let any scientists take the stand.

The evolutionists were the bigots and ignoramuses in 1925, and they are the bigots and ignoramuses in Kansas today. Their purpose is to ridicule everyone who believes in God, and they will not stand up and defend their leftist-evolutionist-atheist beliefs.

The 1925 biology textbook cited Piltdown Man as proof of evolution, and advocated white supremacy and eugenics. Bryan understood Darwinism and evolution much better than Darrow, and had legitimate reasons for opposing it.

More stem cell facts
For those who are worried that the Koreans are the only ones doing human embryonic stem cell research, the WSJ says:
In fact, federal funding for all forms of stem-cell research (including adult and umbilical stem cells) has nearly doubled, to $566 million from $306 million. The federal government has also made 22 fully developed embryonic stem-cell lines available to researchers, ...

At the state level, Californians passed Proposition 71, which commits $3 billion over 10 years for stem-cell research. New Jersey is building a $380 million Stem Cell Institute. The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill authorizing stem-cell research by a veto-proof margin, and similar legislation is in the works in Connecticut and Wisconsin.

Then there's the private sector. According to Navigant Consulting, the U.S. stem-cell therapeutics market will generate revenues of $3.6 billion by 2015. Some 70 companies are now doing stem-cell research, ...

There is now more money available for stem cell research than anyone knows how to spend. It looks like a big boondoggle to me. I predict that most of the money will be wasted.

Bob writes:

So, how did the Koreans get ahead of the US in an area where we had a decisive lead? Embryonic stem cells were first isolated and cultured by James Thomson at U. Wisconsin in 1998. The Koreans and the UK can now do something which no US lab is able to reproduce. Patents may prevent US labs from reproducing these results for 20 years.
So maybe patents will prevent some useless cloning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Dawkins on ignorance
Richard Dawkins complains that quoting scientists admitting to ignorance "threatens the enterprise of science itself", and says:
The standard methodology of creationists is to find some phenomenon in nature which Darwinism cannot readily explain. Darwin said: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." Creationists mine ignorance and uncertainty in order to abuse his challenge. "Bet you can’t tell me how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved by slow gradual degrees?" If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, a default conclusion is drawn: "Right, then, the alternative theory; 'intelligent design' wins by default."
Here is a typical college lesson in evolution (pdf slides). It argues that evolution is scientific, states a few generalities, and concludes that "Evolution explains the diversity of life on earth".

It seems to me that if evolutionists are going to claim that the theory explains everything, then it is fair game for critics to try to find things that it does not explain.

Bob writes:

After reading all of the Dawkins piece linked to above, I understand. I read a book review once in which the author complained that a book which he had reviewed, "Leadership Principles of Attila the Hun" and called "twaddle" had a quote taken out of context as a blurb on the cover. The reviewer ended the review with the statement that he had made sure that nothing could be taken from the review and made to sound positive. Dawkins is complaining about unscrupulous creationists taking the words of scientists out of context to criticize evolution, nothing more.
So Dawkins wants his fellow evolutionists to carefully control their language so that nothing they say will be construed to be a limitation on the explanatory power of the theory of evolution?!

Real scientists are happy to explain what is and is not explained by theory. They are happy to explain what has and has not been empirically demonstrated. Only leftist-atheist-evolutionist science propagandists like Dawkins are so concerned about people discovering the theory's shortcomings.

Bob writes:

I defy you to supply the quote where Dawkins or I say anything which justifies your statement [about Dawkins].
Dawkins says, "It isn’t even safe for a scientist to express temporary doubt ...". The whole point of his column is to encourage evolutionists to avoid expressing doubts or evolution limitations, and to attack efforts to fully inform Kansas students. Dawkins also said in 1986:
Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
That is his real problem. He is a propagandist for atheism, and he wants the schools to teach science in a way that promotes atheism and does not allow alternative views.

Here is another attack on Dawkins' essay.

Stem cell junk science
Bob writes:
I'm glad that someone is concerned that conservatives are embracing junk science. I thought that was a lost cause when conservatives started supporting ID. Personally, I reject the assertion that bible banging busy bodies are real conservatives.
He sends an incoherent stem cell essay by Harvard researcher David Shaywitz. (The essay is not freely available.) It says:
For true believers, of course, these scientific facts should be beside the point; if human embryonic stem cell research is morally, fundamentally, wrong, then it should be wrong, period, regardless of the consequences to medical research. If conservatives believe their own rhetoric, they should vigorously critique embryonic stem cell research on its own grounds, and not rely upon an appeal to utilitarian principles.
This is nonsense. He is not a conservative, does not know any conservatives, and may not have ever even read anything that conservatives wrote. Yet he somehow thinks that he knows what conservatives ought to be thinking.

In fact conservatives do sometimes criticize embryonic stem cell research on its own grounds. It is especially strange to hear a scientist complain about someone else using a utilitarian argument!

Bob writes:

Shaywitz is complaining about following deceptive practice. Monday on Lehrer a Republican congressman was shown holding up a folder with 60 some odd "cures" using adult stem cells and a folder showing 0 cures from embryonic stem cells. The complaint is not that a utilitarian argument is being used, but that the particular argument that adult stem cells are more useful than embryonic stem cells is based on junk science. This is exactly what is being implied by the Republican scam artist I mentioned. Of course adult stem cell research is ahead of embryonic stem cell research, it has been funded for more than a decade longer than embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cell research has never operated under the severe restrictions under which embryonic stem cell research must operate in the US. While US research is pawn in the abortion wars, Korea, the UK, Japan and Singapore are patenting the technology we will need to solve our health care crisis. The end of this research is not organ farms, but an understanding of the molecular basis for the development process by which we become what we are starting from a single cell. The factors which guide this process and which can turn an adult cell into an embryo in cloning will be identified, their mechanisms understood, patented, and used to repair diseased or failing organs in situ. Thanks to the obstructionists, the US is already years behind in this race for intellectual property and the means to save lives. I call that evil.
The congressman was stating a fact. Adult stem cells have led to useful therapies, and embryonic stem cells have not. If Shaywitz's objection is to that congressman stating facts, then he should say so. Instead, he wrote a dishonest straw man attack.
Supremacists let murderer go
Liza writes:
I'm surprised nobody on this list has complained about the Supreme Court's latest outrage - the decision yesterday throwing out a death penalty because the convicted murderer was shackled during the penalty phase of the trial. Again, a Missouri criminal defendant was involved. Apparently the state now has to show that the shackling is necessary because the defendant (who has already been convicted of murder, remember) represents a threat! This decision is especially weird coming so soon after an Atlanta defendant went nuts and killed a few people in the courthouse.

See also the column on the Wall Street Journal editorial page today by Prof. Lino Graglia of U. of Texas Law School, complaining about judicial supremacy/activism generally. He's coming out with a new book on the subject. His proposed solution seems silly to me - to amend the Constitution to restrict the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the abolition of official race discrimination (in order to get rid of all the due process and equal protection jurisprudence). First of all, it's extremely unlikely such an amendment would ever pass. Second, lots of supremacist decisions don't rely on the 14th Amendment.

Yes, Graglia fails to grasp the true nature of the problem.
Judicial supremacist is sensitive to criticism
A Mass. judge just hates it when people call a spade a spade. She is a good example of a judge who ought to be impeached for irresponsible behavior in office.

Sunday, May 22, 2005
Prof. Larry Tribe
Prof. Larry Tribe has just canceled volume 2 of his constitutional law treatise. Apparently he is worried that it would be obsoleted by a couple of Bush appointments to the Supreme Court. One can only hope!
Anti-social behavior orders
Here is a weird British trend:
ASBO is an acronym for the ''anti-social behavior orders'' that have been introduced by the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. He has promised to extend them in the third term he won in elections earlier this month. An ASBO is a kind of esoteric injunction that bans people from highly specific acts that fall just this side of criminality. Kerry McLaughlin's order, for instance, threatened her with jail if she had more than two guests over after 10 at night.

Civil libertarians warn that there is little restraint on the imposition of ASBO's, and 97 percent of those requested are approved by court authorities. Some law-and-order politicians want the courts taken out of the equation altogether, so that you can be slapped with an ASBO on a policeman's say-so. They are proliferating. The Guardian reports that a suicidal young woman who tried to drown herself in the Avon got an ASBO that forbids her from jumping into any rivers. Two teenage gang members have to stay out of certain neighborhoods in Gloucester until they turn 24. A girl suspected of shoplifting has an ASBO that will land her in jail if she wears a hooded sweatshirt to hide her face. Britons have long managed to balance a need for order with a tendency toward eccentricity. With astonishing speed, the state has gone into the business of micromanaging morality.

In Britain, you cannot even encourage a kid to catch a butterfly:
A spokesman for Butterfly Conservation, a Dorset-based charity, was appalled by the prospect of thousands of net-wielding children charging across the British countryside with murder in mind.

He said: "Butterflies are in danger across the British Isles - even the most common species are now under threat. We condemn anyone encouraging the killing and collecting of butterflies.

"Even if you do not kill them, catching butterflies with a net can harm them if you do not know how to use a net properly. Butterflies are very delicate and if we were to encourage people to catch them we would ensure they were properly trained."

What are they going to do -- license the use of a butterfly net?
Benefits of preschool
A third-grade teacher says:
While research suggests that the benefits of preschool tend to wear off by fifth grade, some would argue that the first five years of school are important.

The positive effects of preschool on young children are very clear to early childhood teachers in elementary schools. At the school I teach at in the Bronx, one student who had never been to school before shouted on the first day of kindergarten, "Stop reading so loud, Teacher ! I am trying to sleep!" Preschool allows students to understand at an early age the roles of the student and the teacher, as well as how to cooperate in a classroom environment.

In other words, preschool has no benefit to the kids, but it does benefit the teachers by brainwashing the kids into accepting their idiotic and destructive teaching techniques. That kids is probably better off taking a nap.

Saturday, May 21, 2005
Feminists snivel
Gumma approves of Judge Janice Rogers Brown, because she testified:
If my family had a motto, it would be 'Don't snivel'. We had a very clear sense of right and wrong.
She says that the statements proves that Brown is not a feminist. Feminists are all whiners and snivelers.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Leftist nut-case Catherine Crier complains on Court TV about how we have a conservative court. Pat Buchanan sets her straight. Most of the Republican-appointed judges are judicial supremacists and liberals. Crier is unwilling to distinguish between judges who rule contrary to the Constitution or to statutes, and judges who rule contrary to "case law".
Burning bibles
The Mohammedan world does not believe in religious tolerance:
The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated.
Disposing of a copy of the Koran in front of a terrorist prisoner is trivial in comparison.
IBM wants cheap programmers
A N. Carolina paper says:
DURHAM -- With a critical shortage of Information Technology workers projected in the coming years, it's crucial that university computer science departments do all they can to attract top students to the field, a local IBM official said Tuesday. ...

"The slope shows an unbelievable decline in computer science majors," Astrachan said. "There are smart people no longer even signing up to take our introductory courses. We need to fix it, or there's not going to be a U.S. work force in computer sciences."

It is a simple matter of supply and demand. IBM pays much more to its lawyers, salemen, and managers than it pays its programmers. Programmers suffer an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average, while other professions have much lower unemployment rates. The USA has policies of importing cheap programmer labor from India and China. The students are acting rationally when they avoid computer science classes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Filibuster polls
The mainstream media (MSM) is saying that the polls favor the Democrats in the current filibuster debate. Here is the Time poll question:
Some Republicans in the Senate want to eliminate the ability of Democrats to use the filibuster, or extended debate, to block the Senate from voting on some of President Bush's judicial nominees. Do you think the Republicans should or should not be able to eliminate the filibuster in this case?
Time says only 28% support the Republicans. But I wonder what the result would be if the question were phrased more like this:
Some Democrats in the Senate want the ability for a minority to block the Senate from voting on some of President Bush's judicial nominees. Do you think the Republicans should or should not be able to hold a vote on the nominees?"
My hunch is that people who don't follow this issue closely are likely to oppose whoever seems to be changing the rules. The Democrats say that the Republicans are changing the rules, but the Republicans say that it is the Democrats who want a minority to be able to use the filibuster to kill judicial nominations, and that has never been done before.

The use of the word "filibuster" is also confusing. The traditional Senate filibuster was just a debating tactic, and it only delayed votes. It did not prevent votes. The average voter is likely to think that a full debate on judges is a good thing. But what the Democrats really want to do is to veto the nomination with a minority of the votes. They do not just want a full debate.

Expelling preschoolers
A new study says:
More than 600 kids are expelled from preschool in New York each year, according to a new study. That means preschoolers get kicked out at a rate nearly 18 times higher than that of kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. Preschoolers are generally three- and four-years-old.
The preschool lobby is unhappy:
The fact that children who are just learning how to hold a crayon or recognize the alphabet are being tossed out of classrooms has surprised and alarmed researchers and preschool advocates, who warn that early intervention and support -- not expulsion -- is the key to long-term student success.
They ought to be alarmed, because they are ideologically committed to a fallacious theory. A lot of 3- and 4-year-olds just aren't ready to be ruined by educators yet. Preschool is just daycare, and I suspect that most kids are better off without it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005
Darwin on trial
John sends this Wash Post article about evolution and intelligent design.
"Evolution is the most plausible explanation for life if you're using naturalistic terms, I'll agree with that." Johnson folds his hands over his belly, a professorial Buddha, as his words fly rat-a-tat-tat. "That's only," he continues, "because science puts forward evolution and says any other logical explanation is outside of reality." ...

"A lot of the DNA in there is not needed -- it's junk," says Phillip Kitcher, the Columbia University philosopher of science. "If it's intelligently designed, then God needs to go back to school."

If it turns out that the junk DNA is needed, then I am sure that the evolutionists will say that it is further proof for evolution and for the non-existence of God.

Bob writes:

The Wash (com)Post quotes a lawyer to defend ID and a philosopher to defend evolution. In a political fight I guess it is better to have a lawyer on your side. Fortunately, the defense of evolution does not require philosophers. ID on the other hand would not even exist if it hadn't been concocted by Johnson, a lawyer.
Yes, the scientists followed an AAAS-led boycott of the Kansas hearings. It is hard to find a scientist who will defend the evolutionist position.

Friday, May 13, 2005
John sends this Thomas L. Friedman column and writes:
The same people who supported outsourcing U.S. computer jobs to India now wonder why college computer departments no longer attract the best students.
Yes. Simple supply and demand. If computer jobs disappear because of outsourcing, then the best students will go elsewhere. No mystery to it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Buchanan questions WWII
Pat Buchanan quotes Pres. Bush, and then questions whether fighting WWII in Europe was worth the cost. Critics are calling him an anti-Semite again. Cramer suggests asking the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis? I guess he means to ask the Jews who escaped the Nazis.

Today, schoolkids are taught that the USA went to war in WWII because of Pearl Harbor and to save European Jews from the Nazis. It must seem strange that Buchanan doesn't mention either. However, I really don't think that saving the Jews had much to do with entering the war in Europe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Scientific Revolutions
Jonathan writes:
Saw Kuhn's "SSR" on your list of harmful books. Maybe you're a "sophisticated methodological falsificationist" and disagree with Kuhn's "psychology of research" approach, but ... harmful? Isn't Kuhn just a sociologist and "mildly interesting"? Where's the harm?

I think the notions of paradigm shift, "normal" science, and "extraordinary science" are useful for beginners. After that, hell, make them read Popper. Wondering if your detestation of Kuhn is based solely on a naked reading of SSR, or if on the other hand you know something I don't. Personally, in class "way back when" we read SSR, then Popper, then "Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge"-- based on the London 1965 symposium where Kuhn led off, then was taken up by (in turn) Watkins, Toulmin, Williams, Popper, Masterman, Lakatos, and Feyerabend. At the end of the book, Kuhn tries to rebut his critics. So I'm just curious as to what "level" you attack Kuhn on, and what's harmful with teaching SSR as a "newbie intro thing".

Or is your attack deeper than that? As in, are you against any/all study of philosophy of science, psychology of science, or sociology of science as complete timewasters compared to things like math or "hard" science or history of science?

I guess it sounds odd to attack such a universally praised book. People like Al Gore and Stephen Jay Gould said it was one of the best books they ever read.

I don't like the book because of the way in which Kuhn denies that there is scientific progress. Furthermore, the book inspired all sorts of other bad ideas.

For a good criticism of Kuhn from the point of view of a scientist, see Steven Weinberg's essay.

Bob writes:

Anyone who defends Kuhn must defend his remarks on "Revolutions and Relativism" p205-206 second edition, in which Kuhn denies that science has anything to do with objective reality and effect endorses relativism in a mealy mouthed fashion. Go ahead, make my day.

Note Weinberg's misunderstanding of "evolution as described by Darwin, a process driven from behind, rather than pulled toward some fixed goal to which it grows ever closer." Anyone who believes this must account for the fact intelligence has evolved independently at least three times. Independently? Yes, three entirely different brain structures in three distantly related species have produced intelligence. The correct understanding of evolution is that species are pulled toward the "fixed goal" of adapting to an ever changing environment with invariant properties which are not obvious or ascertainable by formal systems or their implementations.

If science doesn't explain objective reality, then the next step is to say that there is no such thing as objective reality.
Iraq War plans
The latest UK scandal is this 23 July 2002 leaked memo:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
I don't know why anyone would be surprised that the USA was making Iraq war preparations in 2002. We had even bombed Iraq as recently as 1998.

Monday, May 09, 2005
Democrat nonsense on judges
John sends this Ramesh Ponnuru article as a good response to a Wash. Post column defending Democrats who want to filibuster judges.

See also this scathing criticism.

Finally, Caplan says "the current Supreme Court has a right and a center, but no left." This is just silly. If it were the case we would see more decisions overturning Warren and Burger Court precedents and fewer cases that, like Lawrence and Roper, shift constitutional jurisprudence to the left. Any description of judicial ideology along these lines must account for the trajectory of the Court's doctrines, many of which, I would submit, still trend left.
Anyone who says that we have a right-wing court is just a leftist propagandist.
Emotional-assistance service dog
I didn't know that non-blind people get to have seeing-eye dogs.
Another Seattle case in which a merchant got in trouble for not admitting a dog which was accompanying its owner for purposes of psychological assistance (as distinct from the service provided by seeing-eye and hearing dogs for the physically disabled). This time the Wicker Basket grocery store in Ballard was fined $21,000 after owner Hojoon Park wouldn't let the dog into the shop.
I did once see an apparently normally-sighted man with a seeing-eye dog eat in a restaurant. I figured that maybe he was training the dog, or had some unusual visual problem.
Woman Gets $45K for Cat Killed by Dog
John sends this:
SEATTLE (AP) - A woman who sued a neighbor after his dog mauled her cat to death has been awarded more than $45,000.
I think that a better remedy would have been to just let her shoot his dog.

Saturday, May 07, 2005
Shiavo's effect on Bush
Gumma writes:
It is depressing the way the TV commentators , in evaluating Bush's standing in the polls, or report on his forst 100 days, or whatever, continually refer to the Schiavo case as a negative for Bush without any explanation whatsoever. Everybody is just supposed to understand that it was a Bush/Republican negative. Any ideas for dealing with this?
Andy writes:
It should be a negative. Bush hid behind the skirts of the judges. Bush passed the buck. Bush gave quotes like "it's up to the courts to decide this." For pete's sake, ever since Harry Truman it has been understood that the president should not be passing the buck. Bush made himself look less important than a mere probate judge.

The president is accountable for what the federal judiciary decides. He should be. Hopefully Bush realizes that he won't get away with nominating another Souter in two months, when Rehnquist is expected to resign. But I'm not optimistic, unless conservatives turn up the rhetoric on the issue of filling the vacancy.

What should Bush have done? Ideally, he should see a crisis like that coming and taken steps long beforehand to avert it. Line up the votes in the Florida legislature, the way a Democratic president would. Tell Jeb he has to take Terri into custody an obtain some fair medical examinations, the way that Clinton would have called Lawton Chiles. Get Terri out of the state the way as Elian was. Launch an early federal investigation, the way Janet Reno would have. But don't hide behind the courts and pass the buck.

John writes:
Schiavo is a negative for Bush and the Republicans because they set a goal but failed to accomplish it. Like the CW song, they "fought the law and the law won" - law in this case meaning the judges.

Americans like a winner. Clinton remains popular because he beat Newt in the great budget standoff of 1995, then he beat impeachment in 1999 and left office in glory. Whereas Nixon left office in disgrace even though few can say exactly why.

In the Schiavo case, the Republicans who control the Federal and Florida governments were unable or unwilling to come up with a succesful strategy to save Terri. The willful decisions of Judge Greer prevailed, and the matter is closed, with the arrogant Judge Birch having the last word.

It is understandable and inevitable that political observers would call this a "Bush/Republican negative"; they lost!

I don't buy this analysis. I don't think that Shiavo was a negative for Pres. Bush. And if it was, you have to ask whether it was because Bush did too much or too little.

I think that Clinton was severely damaged by the impeachment.

Schiavo's supporters lost in the sense that Schiavo died, but she may have been a martyr to the cause, and her death may help the cause in the long run. Until she actually died, there were probably a lot of people who didn't believe that the authorities would really starve her.

All of those same TV commentators claimed that Bush lost the Bush-Kerry debates, and argued that poll data proves it. They were wrong. Bush won the debates. Bush articulated where he stands and why, and Kerry never did.

Friday, May 06, 2005
Man's refusal to return digit found in custard kills bid to reattach
Here is proof that we have too many lawsuits by greedy plaintiffs.
RALEIGH, N.C. — To a dessert shop customer, the severed fingertip found in a pint of frozen custard could be worth big dollars in a potential lawsuit. To the shop worker who lost it, the value is far more than monetary.

But Clarence Stowers still has the digit, refusing to return the evidence so it could be reattached. And now it's too late for doctors to do anything for 23-year-old Brandon Fizer. ... He refused to give it to the shop's owner, and refused to give it to a doctor who was treating Fizer, who accidentally stuck his hand in a mixing machine and had his right index finger lopped off at the first knuckle.

Medical experts say an attempt to reattach a severed finger can generally be made within six hours.

But according to the shop's management, Stowers wouldn't give it back when he was in the store 30 minutes after the accident.

I was surprised to learn that a small fingertip can sometimes regenerate in a child.

This story has pictures. I am a little surprised no one forcibly took the finger away from Stowers. I hope that there is an investigation of Stowers, to see what produced his mindset.

Meanwhile, we are learning more about the background of the Wendy's finger woman. She practices witchcraft, and has a husband who owes $433,000 in child support.

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Leftist evolution
Andy writes:
Politics & Evolution

Students represent 100% of the future. Just as promoting cigarettes to teenagers ensures many will continue to smoke as adults, hooking grade-schoolers on evolution guarantees most will become liberals as adults. Please read on if you doubt this.

For example, the more someone views people like animals, the more he will see a need for gun control. For good reason, we do not allow animals to have or play with guns. A similar correlation in views exists for animal rights, environmentalism, population control, taxation, right-to-work and free enterprise itself. The more that a society believes in evolution, the more controlling they will want their government to be.

Countries with high percentages of belief in evolution, such as the former East Germany, have had the most socialistic governments. America, the most free country in the world, has the lowest percentage of belief in evolution (about 35%). An increase in the percentage of Americans who believe in evolution would have a dramatically adverse effect on politics, as our country would become more like socialistic Western Europe. The battleground is our school curriculum, as it sets the standard for all of society.

The effect of evolution indoctrination is dramatic on a state-by-state basis. Gore lost the 2000 election because he surprisingly lost his home state of Tennessee. Tennessee has always been very resistant to imposing evolution in its schools, enabling Bush to prevail (as have two Republican Senators and a lack of any state income tax).

Soon after Bush was elected, his nomination of conservative John Ashcroft to be Attorney General was aggressively contested by Democrats. But eight Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for confirmation; seven of them were from states with the least stringent evolution requirements. Remember Senator Jeffords' switch in 2001 to support Democratic control of the Senate? No problem for him, as he represents a pro-evolution state.

In the past twenty years New Jersey has swung from a Republican to Democratic state, in response to increasing evolution indoctrination schools, where it now begins as early as the 4th grade. The first President Bush carried New Jersey by 13 points in 1988, yet by 2000 George W. Bush lost it by 16 points on the same platform. In 2001, Bret Schundler, a popular conservative mayor of one of New Jersey's largest cities, lost by a double-digit margin to the liberal James McGreevey.

A pro-evolution foundation (Fordham) rated these states as having the least evolution indoctrination: Kansas, Wyoming, Maine, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Florida, Alabama, North Dakota, Georgia, Mississippi, West Virginia and Tennessee. What do they have in common? They are overwhelmingly Republican in voting patterns.

It was Georgia's resistance to evolution in its schools, for example, that laid the foundation for the stunning upset of its popular incumbent U.S. senator in 2002, thereby allowing the Republicans to recapture the entire U.S. Senate.

The above list of evolution-resistant states played a crucial role in 2004, as Bush could not have been reelected without the support of West Virginia and Ohio, two states that have kept evolution indoctrination at bay. Bush's narrow victory in Ohio, however, reinforces the need to be vigilant against evolution in schools. Ohio began imposing evolution in its schools in a high-profile struggle in 2003, and Bush did not do as well as Republican candidates have done there in the past. He only won by merely 100,000 votes out of over 5 million cast. Will Ohio's embrace of evolution enable the Democrats to win that state and capture the presidency in 2008?

If Ohio is lost to evolution and the Democrats, then Republicans will need to pick up either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania (or perhaps Minnesota) to remain in the White House. Bush narrowly lost Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2004. Why did Bush do relatively well in those states compared to others in the North and Northeast? Because both states resist evolution indoctrination in their schools. Wisconsin adopts evolution at the state level, but local school districts have the unique authority to define their own curriculum. Since the 2004 election, at least one school district has allowed (Grantsburg) something other than evolution to be taught. Likewise in Pennsylvania, as the Dover school district has opened its curriculum to a competing theory.

The ongoing battle against evolution indoctrination has a greater influence on political outcomes than any other single factor in American politics.

NPR had a story today about Kansas and other states debating the teaching of evolution.

Chris writes:

I am happy to believe that the less people know about science the more likely they are to be conservative and Republican. I just didn’t think that anyone would be proud to be walking down the middle of the street proudly waving the banner of “Know Nothingism.” I am always impressed by peoples ability to be proud of their ignorance.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Chris writes:
You Say:
NY Times slanders judges
A NY Times editorial has the usual smears on Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. They must be good judges to get such slanderous attacks.
To paraphrase ‘The Princess Bride’ “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” Unless you genuine believe that quoting directly from a judge’s written opinion is slander. I am willing to assert if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales opinion of Justice Owen‘s is that she is a judicial activist she might very well be.

I am also willing to say that any member of the Constitution in Exile is unfit for a position on the Federal Bench. Justice Brown is a member of a group that espouses legal beliefs that the only form of environmental protection is agreements amongst neighbors and only enforceable by local ordinance and living in a libertarian lala land. If that is not sufficiently out of the mainstream of contemporary legal thought then nothing is.

Yes, I do think that it is slander (or libel) to say that a Gonzales court opinion called Owen a judicial activist. It is not true. I blogged about this in 2002 and 2005.

As far as I can determine, there is no Constitution in Exile movement or group. The issue is debated here. Apparently it is just a big straw man.

The attacks on Justice Brown are strange. Her attackers do not usually cite any of her opinions. When they do, those opinions are excellent. I actually hope that she does not get confirmed, because we need her here on the California Supreme Court.

John sends this Michael S. Greve essay writes:

It just won't fly to try to deny there's a conservative Constitution in Exile movement. Clearly, the Supremacists envisions a Constitution before it was misinterpreted by the Warren Court. A better response is to point out that the Left has its own Constitution in Exile, i.e., leftist legal doctrines that they want to write into the Constitution.
Yes. The NY Times article attacks the so-called CIE with quotes from Cass Sunstein, who calls himself a moderate. In fact, Sunstein has his own extreme leftist ideas for his own constitution in exile.

I don't know whether there is a CIE movement or not, but I do know that J. Brown's opinions are on the record. The attacks on her rarely mention that record. When they do, it is often like this:

In a lead Oct. 25 editorial, "Out of the Mainstream Again," The New York Times cited as one of her "extreme positions" Justice Brown's dissent in a case where "her court ordered a rental car company to stop its supervisor from calling Hispanic employees by racial epithets." Also attacking Justice Brown for her dissent in that case, Aguilar vs. Avis Rent A Car Systems, were Sen. Edward Kennedy and the Congressional Black Caucus Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Have they read the full record of the case?
This Gene C. Gerard article attacks Brown on this case first:
Justice Brown dissented, and argued that the right to free speech protected the use of racial slurs in the workplace, even when it violated federal laws against racial discrimination. Her dissent essentially ignored many previous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brown's excellent opinion in that case is one of 3 dissents, and it cites 15 US Supreme Court precedents. It does not say that the racial slurs are protected, because she upholds the employee's lawsuit for damages. If that is her worst opinion then I think that Pres. Bush should appoint her to the US Supreme Court. She would be better than 7 of the 9 we have.

Chris writes:

You Say: “Yes, I do think that it is slander (or libel) to say that a Gonzales court opinion called Owen a judicial activist. It is not true. I blogged about this in 2002 and 2005.”

Ah, it is a reading comprehension problem. Where in the following sentence from the NYT does it say that a court opinion of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being quoted? “Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, suggested that Justice Owen's narrow reading of the law was "an unconscionable act of judicial activism."”

Please show me the slander here.

The phrase "an unconscionable act of judicial activism" does come from a Gonzales court opinion, but it did not refer to Owen's reading of the law. The NY Times repeats this falsehood.
Most harmful nonfiction books
Human Events is collecting lists of the most harmful nonfiction books on the last 2 centuries. Here is mine.
  1. The Interpretation of Dreams, 1909, by Sigmund Freud
  2. Ten Days That Shook the World, 1919, by John Reed
  3. Mein Kampf, 1925-26, by Adolf Hitler
  4. Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928, by Margaret Mead
  5. Behaviorism, 1930, by J. B. Watson
  6. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, 1936, by John Maynard Keynes
  7. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, 1946, by Benjamin Spock
  8. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948, by Alfred Kinsey
  9. The Doors of Perception, 1954, by Aldous Huxley
  10. The Affluent Society, 1958, by John Kenneth Galbraith
  11. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962, by Thomas S. Kuhn
  12. Silent Spring, 1962, by Rachel Carson
  13. The Feminine Mystique, 1963, by Betty Friedan
  14. Quotations from Chairman Mao, 1966, Mao Zedong
  15. The Population Bomb, 1968, by Paul R. Ehrlich
  16. The Mismeasure of Man, 1981, by Stephen Jay Gould
  17. The Fate of the Earth, 1982, by Jonathan Schell
  18. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, 1991, by Susan Faludi
  19. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, 1991, by Naomi Wolf
  20. Only Words, 1993, by Catharine A. MacKinnon
I may revise this list. Comments welcome. I was helped by some book lists that I found here.

There are some idiotic comments here. They point out that the list overlooks the Harry Potter books, Catcher In The Rye, and the Warren Commission Report.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Selling eggs
Liza sent several message objecting to selling blood and eggs, including:
In your own words: "in California, there are some laws restricting paying blood donors."

I never said all payments are abusive. My argument is that we already restrict payments for organs and blood; a fortiori, we should restrict payments for eggs.

Baby-selling is not okay. Payments for medical care, attorney's fees, and perhaps lost wages for the birth and recovery process sound all right to me. A full nine months' wages as proposed by Andy does not sound wise. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

I should have made it clear that California has no practical restriction on paying blood donors. Anyone can pay any donor any amount of money for blood, as long as the blood is marked "paid". The blood banks can resell the blood. There are some mild restrictions on the usage of paid blood. They don't matter much because we have a surplus of blood.

If a law is passed to regulate selling eggs in a manner analogous to current laws on selling blood, then it would not be much difference from current practice.

It sounds like Liza just wants to cap the price for baby selling at $10k or so.

Evolution news
Princeton Univ. is holding a Frist filibuster, and they are reading evolutionist essays!

Meanwhile, evolutionists cannot agree whether there is any reason for parent to take better care of pretty kids.

Dr. W. Andrew Harrell, executive director of the Population Research Laboratory at the University of Alberta and the leader of the research team, sees an evolutionary reason for the findings: pretty children, he says, represent the best genetic legacy, and therefore they get more care.

Not all experts agree. Dr. Frans de Waal, a professor of psychology at Emory University, said he was skeptical.

"The question," he said, "is whether ugly people have fewer offspring than handsome people. I doubt it very much. If the number of offspring are the same for these two categories, there's absolutely no evolutionary reason for parents to invest less in ugly kids."

Bob writes, "It is my experience that parents favor the kids who look most like them."

When I get the chance, I'll connect the dots on these issues.

Women earn more
John sends this John Leo article about women earning as much as men for the same jobs.
Sup Ct vacates feminist ruling
Andy writes:
The Sixth Circuit had expanded equal protection to include feminist demands, and forced the entire state of Michigan to revamp its boys and girls high school schedules. I wrote about this here.

On appeal, the Supreme Court just vacated the ruling and order the Court to reconsider in light of an obscure recent decision about exclusivity of remedies. As best I can tell from a cursory review, the Court is saying that Title IX is an exclusive remedy for these cases and lawsuits using Section 1983 and the equal protection clause should not be allowed. That's great!

Andy also notes that the US Supreme Court also just agreed to hear a case on the Solomon Amendment. This means that the Court may uphold the power of Congress to require colleges to allow military recruiters on campus.
Congress can enforce the 14A
Andy writes:
Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment (and ERA) says that "CONGRESS SHALL HAVE THE POWER TO ENFORCE, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

The Court does not enforce the Fourteenth Amendment; Congress does. This Section does not say "Congress and the Courts shall have the power ...."

Most, perhaps all, of the proposed statutes limiting jurisdiction concern the Fourteenth Amendment. These statutes should mention Section 5 as a ground (in addition to Article III) for Congress to define the scope of the courts' jurisdiction. That would double the legal force.

John cites this Austin Bramwell article for a similar argument, and writes:
One trouble with the idea is that in the 1997 case of City of Boerne v. Flores (which the author erroneously cites as "Boerne v. City of Flores") the Supreme Court tried to say that it and not Congress will have the final say on the scope of the 14th Amendment, at least insofar as the 14th is used to "incorporate" the 1st Amendment against the states.

Sunday, May 01, 2005
Science of global warming
John sends this UK Telegraph story:
Two of the world's leading scientific journals have come under fire from researchers for refusing to publish papers which challenge fashionable wisdom over global warming. ...

The controversy follows the publication by Science in December of a paper which claimed to have demonstrated complete agreement among climate experts, not only that global warming is a genuine phenomenon, but also that mankind is to blame.

The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.

Dr Oreskes's study is now routinely cited by those demanding action on climate change, including the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser.

However, her unequivocal conclusions immediately raised suspicions among other academics, who knew of many papers that dissented from the pro-global warming line.

They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents - and concluded that only one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly.

Dr Peiser submitted his findings to Science in January, and was asked to edit his paper for publication - but has now been told that his results have been rejected on the grounds that the points he make had been "widely dispersed on the internet".

Remember that the next time you read about a scientific consensus on global warming.