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Sunday, Jul 31, 2005
Funding California cloning
John sends this San Diego story:
Unable to sell bonds to finance California's $3 billion stem cell initiative, the state treasurer's office is trying an unprecedented new approach.

With any bond sale delayed by lawsuits over the initiative, the new plan is to issue "bond anticipation notes" that the state would repay if it wins the legal challenges and is able to issue actual bonds. ...

There is no certainty that bonds to fund Proposition 71 will ever be issued to pay off the notes. So investors who buy the bond anticipation notes run the risk of never recouping their money. ...

Harrison said there was never any expectation that institutional investors would be interested in buying the notes because they are relatively risky and unusual. But philanthropic groups would be able to write off a loss as a grant if the state loses the legal challenges and cannot issue bonds and repay the notes.

This is pathetic. If someone wants to fund therapeutic cloning research, then he could do that directly. Nobody should lend money to this California boondoggle.
The Culture War
Pat Buchanan says:
Why has Teddy Kennedy reverted to his apocalyptic rhetoric of Bork-battle days? Why is Chuck Schumer threatening an inquisition of Bush nominees? Why is the liberal media wailing that, to avoid a bloody Senate battle that will “divide” the country and “poison” our politics, Bush must nominate a “moderate” to the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O’Connor?

Answer: stark fear. If the Left loses the Supreme Court, the Left loses the Culture War. The Left loses the country. For 50 years, the high court has been its indispensable ally in the campaign to remake America into a secular and egalitarian society. The court has served as the battering ram of a social revolution that has to be imposed upon America—because it is hated by most Americans. ...

The Left gets it, but many Bush Republicans still don’t. They don’t like moral issues, and they don’t enlist in culture wars. But as the Left has turned the Supreme Court into a judicial tyranny more powerful than the president or Congress in deciding social and moral questions, Republicans have two choices: they can fight the Judges War, or they can lose the war.

He's right, as usual.
Human intelligence
This article says that babies can learn sign language.
Spreadsheet inventor
Randall Stross perpetuates a myth in the NY Times:
Had Dan Bricklin, the creator of VisiCalc, the spreadsheet that gave people a reason to buy a personal computer, obtained a patent covering the program in 1979, Microsoft would not have been able to bring out Excel until 1999. ...

So why didn't Mr. Bricklin file for a patent for VisiCalc in 1979? Patents for software alone were not an option then. He consulted a patent attorney who said that the application would have to present the software within a machine and that the odds were long that the ploy would succeed. The courts regarded software as merely a collection of mathematical algorithms, tiny revelations of nature's secrets - not as an invention, and thus not patentable.

Earlier inventors of the spreadsheet (Pardo and Landau) had filed for a patent in 1970. That patent even describes the natural order recalc -- a feature that VisiCalc lacked. In fact, software patents had always been available, if drafted properly.
Hockey stick graph
John sends this Steven Milloy column about the most famous graph supporting global warming theory:
Noting that “sharing data and research results is a basic tenet of open scientific inquiry” and that the hockey stick research was paid for with public funds, Chairman Barton asked Dr. Michael Mann of the University of Virginia for the computer code used to generate the hockey stick graph. Dr. Mann had previously refused to provide his computer code to other climate researchers who had requested it. ...

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, long a proponent of global warming alarmism, chided Chairman Barton in a July 13 letter that Dr. Mann’s hockey stick had already been accepted by the United Nations’ global warming organization and that Congress ought not interfere with that process.

No real scientist would refuse to release his data and programs.

Saturday, Jul 30, 2005
Babies cannot be addicted
A cabal of medical and psychological researchers say:
Despite the lack of a medical or scientific basis for the use of such terms as "ice" and "meth" babies, these pejorative and stigmatizing labels are increasingly being used in the popular media, in a wide variety of contexts across the country.

... almost 20 years of research on the chemically related drug, cocaine, has not identified a recognizable condition, syndrome or disorder that should be termed "crack baby" ...

The term "meth addicted baby" is no less defensible. Addiction is a technical term that refers to compulsive behavior that continues in spite of adverse consequences. By definition, babies cannot be "addicted" to methamphetamines or anything else. The news media continues to ignore this fact.

This continues the effort to redefine addiction as a psychological disorder. This is being done for ideological reasons. (See some libertarian support at Reason.)

It used to be that addiction was defined in terms of medically measurable symptions like tolerance and withdrawal. A definition might also include cravings and habitual use. But the newer definitions typically preoccupation with a drug, continued use in spite of negative consequences, and failed attempts to quit.

The result of the new definition is that prescribed drugs, like ritalin and prozac, can never be addictive. This is in spite of the fact that some of those drugs are highly addictive in animal studies.

It also means that the happy dope smoker is not necessarily addicted. If he likes what he is doing and he is able to function, then these experts would say that he is not addicted no matter how much marijuana he has to consume.

Psychological disorders are also defined in terms of behavior that causes adverse consequences, and not in terms of abnormal brain function or malfunction. Use of prozac and other prescribed mind-altering drugs is often justified in terms of a chemical imbalance in the brain, but hardly anyone has ever been found to have a chemical imbalance. They just have behavior that some medico agrees to try to alter. A compulsive desire to engage in deviant behavior is not enough to get a diagnosis as a psychological disorder.

Friday, Jul 29, 2005
Most harmful programs
Human Events has a list of the 10 most harmful govt programs. I would have put the family court on the list. It seems to do far more harm than good.

There are about $40B in family-court-ordered support payments in the USA every year, according to the latest US Census figures. In many cases, the money breaks up families.

Evolving horses
I have wondered whether there is any known mechanism in which one species can evolve into a different species with a different number of chromosomes. I still don't know the answer, but apparently it is sometimes possible for animals with different numbers of chromosomes to interbreed:
Some authorities believe the Przewalski is a direct ancestor of the modern day domesticated horse. Others contend this is not possible as the Przewalski is a different species having sixty-six chromosomes while the domestic horse carries sixty-four. It is possible to cross the Przewalski with the domestic horse, and the resulting hybrid is fertile; however this offspring has sixty-five chromosomes. When crossed again to the domestic horse, the new generation returns to sixty-four chromosomes and little influence of the Przewalski horse is evident.
I still don't see how mutation and natural selection offer any explanation of how these horses could have a common ancestor.

Evolutionist Bob writes:

What is it that you don't see? Mutations can cause duplication of chromosomes as in Downs syndrome. Individuals with a different number of chromosomes can breed with each other. An individual can survive and possibly benefit from mutations on a duplicate chromosome which would be lethal if there were only one chromosome. Evidence for a common ancestor is provided by genetic homology and tracing which genes are on which chromosomes. If you have an argument, please state it so I have some idea of what you are talking about. "I don't still see..." is not an argument and probably not a fact. It is certainly empty rhetoric.
So did 66-chromosome horses evolve from 64-chromosome horses, or vice-versa? When has anyone observed a mutation beneficially changing the number of chromosomes? How did the change get propagated? I just don't see any theory here.

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005
Intelligent design is not ignorance
Jeff Popoff writes:
Caught your Dark Buzz blog for June 28th citing a fallacious personal attack from an anonymous (pseudononymous?) Bob. Please tell Bob that his mere opposition to ID as stated in your blog is simply opinion and is neither a true proposition, nor valid argument, and thus does not even remotely constitute a real rebuttal, as I am sure you appreciate.

Feel free to update this posting noting to 'Bob' that I do in fact posses reasonable credentials to posit ID including: Bachelor of Science (Honors Level), Member of Scientific Staff, Bell Northern Research, P.Eng (North America), C.Eng (Europe), Stanford GSB graduate.

For other intelligent ID advocates, see Discovery Institute, William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells.

Bob responds:

Credentials are no substitute for being informed. I am willing to bet that Popoff is unable to refute Dawkins' arguments in The Blind Watchmaker or the point by point destruction of ID arguments on these sites: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/ http://nationalacademies.org/evolution/, and http://www.talkorigins.org/.
I couldn't find any destruction of ID arguments on those sites.

Chris responds:

This [Popoff message] is a standard rhetoric from the ID proponents. Every rebuttal is dismissed as not addressing their ideas making it as difficult to refute ID as it is to nail Jell-O to the wall.

Allow me to address the "divine watchmaker" analogy originally formalized to popularize the design argument by William Paley in 1802 to show the shortcomings of ID. Indeed if one looks at a complex modern watch one must come to the conclusion that there was a watchmaker. Ignored in this is the long history of evolution of the watch from the first primitive man who realized that there was a consistency in the movement of the Sun through the heavens. From this using a stick stuck in the soil the concept of time as a reproducible period evolved yet further into water clocks and then simple timepieces. The concept morphed and changed until today we have atomic clocks that keep time more accurately than the rotation of the Earth.

Each clock or timepiece has had a maker, but it was not one maker but the process, the evolution, of individuals working from the success of previous time makers that produced the modern timepiece. Evolution works in exactly the same way. The action that causes change, either genetic mutation through gamma rays, natural selection forced by population pressures, climate change driven by tectonic movement or catastrophic celestial events or any other random natural event is the driver that forces organisms to change and evolve. Each change is built upon the successful foundation of all the previous changes. In this almost imperceptible process we can experience the emergence of insects and plants that are resistant to our pesticides or herbicides. These changes have occurred in less than fifty years; imagine the magnitude of the changes over a thousand years, to say nothing of a million or the three and a half billion years since life first appeared on this planet.

Can we explain every detail of natural evolution, of course not but that does not require the introduction of a metaphysical actor to make the details explicable. Problems that exist in current thinking about evolution are not dismissed or swept under the rug but are at the heart of the ferment and excitement that characterizes modern science. There is no facet of evolution that cannot be explained by evolutionary theory.

The arguments most often stated in opposition are simplistic. The argument that current micro biological structures are ‘too complex’ to have evolved by chance is only offered by those who fail to appreciate probability theory and the extraordinary length of time evolution has had to work in. (Obviously a problem, if you wish, as many ‘young earth’ ID proponents do, to claim the earth is less than 10,000 years old.) The argument that the Cambrian explosion produced too many new organisms for which there are no examples in the fossil records is only accepted by those who imagine that the fossil record is a complete linear record of all geological time in earth’s history.

We could go further and dismiss each argument for flaws in evolution and have no more success. This is because ID is a theory that is driven exclusively by Christian faith and the belief that the Bible is an accurate record of the world’s history. It can further be seen by the thrust of ID proponents to attempt to preach their beliefs at children. The desire to teach ‘alternatives’ to students is a direct attempt to make an end run around the scientific community which has steadfastly refused to lower the standard of scientific argument to appease the relentless whining of hacks and religious zealots. By influencing those who are unable to understand the flaws and shortcomings of ID the proponents hope to develop another generation of Americans who are ignorant about science and logic and easily swayed by demagogues.

I don't believe that every facet of evolution can be explained. Almost all of macro-evolution is unexplained. I also deny that ID theory depends on the Bible being historically accurate. I have never heard ID proponents quote the Bible.

I'm not sure what to make of Chris's clock analogy. Is he suggesting that maybe God created dinosaurs and other prehistoric species as experiments, and gradually perfected his creation technique until he figured out how to create Man?

Mike writes:

Perhaps you're not listening. Here's a nut case with Bible quotes he claims backs ID.
That site has some curious theories about biblical interpretation, but I couldn't find anything about ID theory as advocated by the Discovery Institute.

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005
Hypocritical and illogical pro abortionist
John sends Terence Jeffrey on Dick Durbin's evolving standard of decency. Read the full Meet the Press transcript here.

Tuesday, Jul 26, 2005
Howard Dean, lying Bush basher
DNC Chairman Howard Dean said:
The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it’s 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is.
The Kelo v New London dissenters were Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, and O'Connor. It was the left-wing Supreme Court that expanded eminent domain.
Judicial supremacy started in 1947
A critic of The Supremacists challenges its claim that judicial supremacy was an invention of the Warren Court in Aaron v Cooper. He quotes Charles Evans Hughes, the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941, as saying: “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”

It turns out that Hughes never claimed judicial supremacy while on the court, but only said the quote in a 1907 extemporaneous speech. According to this discussion, Hughes was governor of New York and the context was that he was actually attacking activist judges.

According to this Human Events story, Attorney General Gonzales said, "The Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is." I guess we should be glad that Pres. Bush did not appoint a supremacist to the Supreme Court.

Monday, Jul 25, 2005
Smart animals and Scopes
Evolutionists are always saying how smart animals are, as if they are comparable to humans. But as this NY Times article explains, chimps are just about the only animals that are capable of understanding mirrors as well as a one-year-old child.

The same paper cannot resist a chance to insert some leftist-evolutionist-atheist propaganda. It discusses the 1925 Scopes trial, and says:

Darrow's argument that Bryan disregarded scientific evidence was immortalized in this exchange:

"I do not think about things I don't think about," Bryan said.

"Do you think about the things you do think about?" Darrow asked.

"Well," Bryan replied, "sometimes."

What actually happened was that Darrow called Bryan to the witness stand as an expert on the Bible, and asked him what date could be calculated for Noah's flood, according to data in the Bible. Bryan denied having a literal belief in the Bible, and didn't know a date for Noah's flood.

So Darrow was not asking about scientific evidence, but about Biblical evidence! In reality, it was Bryan, not Darrow, who understood evolution and was able to debate it.

Constitution is safe for the summer
The Supreme Court is in recess, so we know that the Constitution is safe for the summer.
Jared Diamond on immigration
Steve Sailer attacks Jared Diamond for failing to address immigration issues directly.

Sunday, Jul 24, 2005
Butterfly evolution
BBC says:
Why one species branches into two is a question that has haunted evolutionary biologists since Darwin.

Given our planet's rich biodiversity, "speciation" clearly happens regularly, but scientists cannot quite pinpoint the driving forces behind it.

Glad to see an evolutionist actually admit that no one understands speciation.

The article reports on new research in Nature:

For speciation to occur, two branches of the same species must stop breeding with one another for long enough to grow apart genetically.

The most obvious way this can happen is through geographical isolation.

If a mountain range or river divides a population of animals for hundreds of generations, they might find that if they meet again they are no longer able to breed.

But geographical isolation is not enough to explain all speciation. Clearly, organisms do sometimes speciate even if there is no clear river or mountain separating them.

The other mechanism that can theoretically divide a species is "reproductive isolation". This occurs when organisms are not separated physically, but "choose" not to breed with each other thereby causing genetic isolation, which amounts to the same thing.

The article claims that if 2 butterfly species live close to each other, then they somehow adopt different color codes on their wings so that they'll know not to mate with each other.

So this is supposed to explain speciation?! Next they'll be saying that the Neanderthal women had big noses so that the Cro-magnon men would know not to mate with them.

Roberts, unknown conservative
John writes:
Today's Washington Post interviewed a liberal Democrat colleague of Roberts who had lunch with him almost every day - 1,000 times in all. The friend thought Roberts was a "staunch conservative" but, when pressed, could not recall a single statement Roberts ever made or position he ever took that clearly marked him as a conservative.
Sometimes people leap to conclusions that someone is a conservative for the silliest reasons.

Friday, Jul 22, 2005
Offender profiling
Schneier rants against profiling people for security purposes, and cites this paper as proof.

I think that the paper is fallacious and silly. It equates "random" with uniformly random, and has a simplistic notion of profiling. The argument is that if you search passengers based on a profile, then the terrorists will test the system until they figure out the profiling rules, and then will send suicide bombers who don't match the profile.

But the terrorists are not able to recruit from all profiles equally. If it is much easier for them to recruit 25-year-old arab males, then those men should be the most likely to be scrutinized. Such a security strategy will do better than the uniform random strategy of the paper.

Pres. Bush likes exercise
John sends this J. Chait column in the LA Times:
My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of … keeping in shape. But it's also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. (Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps, the president himself.) But Bush's apparent belief in it explains why he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court justices.

Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run — carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.

Joe writes:
What an idiotic article. I can't find an article on aging that DOESN'T say that exercise helps cognition. I think that Mr. Chait doesn't get enough exercise.
Gates is baffled
John writes, "Do you laugh or cry at this?
Speaking to hundreds of university professors, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates says he's baffled more students don't go into computer science.
The main reasons are the hard work, long hours, low pay, low status, boring tasks, Dilbert management, high unemployment, and Indian and Chinese outsourcing. Plus, Jay Leno says that computer programmers cannot get girlfriends. Somebody should send the memo to billg@microsoft.com.
Templeton funds Physics
NPR radio had a story about how The John Templeton Foundation is trying to create a dialog between science and religion by funding physics conferences on topics like multiple universes and string theory.

My theory is that people in the hard sciences are much more tolerant of religious folks than those in the soft sciences. Academics in the soft sciences like evolution would be adamantly against this.

Roman Polanski wins 'seduction case'
In England, a child molestation fugitive can win a libel case.
Film director Roman Polanski has won £50,000 libel damages over a claim that he made sexual advances to a Scandinavian woman just after wife Sharon Tate's brutal murder. ...

The magazine said its article was substantially true but accepted that the incident did not occur when Polanski was on his way back to Hollywood for Miss Tate's funeral - it maintained it took place about two weeks later.

It argued that, in any case, Polanski should not receive any damages as his reputation had already been ruined by his 1977 conviction and promiscuous past.

In the USA, Jay Leno can continue to make fun of Michael Jackson as a child molester, even though he has been acquitted.
Michael Jackson gets his magazines back
AP news:
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The judge who presided over Michael Jackson's child molestation case ordered prosecutors Thursday to return to the entertainer hundreds of items seized by investigators. ...

Jackson's attorneys have petitioned for the return of all items taken from the entertainer.

Sneddon argued against returning some items he labeled "contraband."

Jackson was acquitted. The DA needs to end his vendetta.

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005
No Christian terrorists
I occasionally see people complain about terms like Islamic terrorist, because no one ever talks about Christian terrorists. But the latter is because there is no Christian terrorist movement.

The main examples cited are usually Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. But they were not Christians. McVeigh was an agnostic, and Rudolph says that he prefers Nietzsche to the Bible.

Meanwhile, a recent Pew poll shows that a majority of Jordanians support suicide bombings.

I think that the better term is Mohammedan terrorist. I think of Mohammedanism as being more than a religion; it includes political and military objectives. And to much of the Mohammedan world, that includes supporting terrorism.

Mike writes, "Have you ever heard of the IRA????".

Yes, the IRA committed terrorist acts and its members were Catholics. But the Catholic Church was always opposed to those terrorist activities. Furthermore, the IRA repudiated violence 8 years ago, and hasn't attacked anyone since.

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005
John Roberts
My blog keeps getting hits looking for info about John Roberts. Sorry, I don't know much. Here is all I have.

More facts about Roberts: He graduated from Harvard (summa cum laude) in only 3 years. He attended an all-boys, private Catholic boarding school, graduating 1st in a class of 22 or 25 students. He took 6 years of Latin. His senior year there was entirely independent study. The school has proudly posted a page about him with pictures from the yearbook. He worked summers at NW Indiana steel mills where his father was an electrical engineer.

His wife is a partner in a major D.C. law firm. She is on the board of the John Carroll Society. They married in 1996 when both were about 41 years old. They adopted a girl and boy who are now 5 and 4.

Roberts is a longtime member of the Federalist Society, and his wife is a past president of a Feminists for Life group. (The Federalist Society info was widely reported, but turns out to be false.)

I agree with Sen. Schumer that Roberts should provide 3 Supreme Court decisions with which he disagreed. It should be easy. Roberts argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court, and I am sure that he did not win them all. He can just name all the ones he lost.

Update: Felix from NY reports that Roberts is not a member of the Federalist Society. It seems that some conspiracy-minded reporters just automatically assumed that Roberts is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. But having been told that Roberts is not a member, the Wash. Post looks for another dark motive: "A related question is why Roberts would not want to be a member."

Update (July 25): Felix from NY reports again that the Wash. Post is hot on the trail of whether Roberts was ever a member of the Federalist Society. It says:

The Federalist Society was founded in 1982 by conservatives who disagreed with what they saw as a leftist tilt in the nation's law schools. The group sponsors legal symposia and similar activities and serves as a network for rising conservative lawyers.

In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability.

... many Democrats regard the organization with suspicion.

They listen to public speeches that are not filtered by leftist law professors. Yeah, sounds very suspicious. A member might actually think for himself!

The Wash. Post has had to correct itself on this subject last Thursday, and in 2001.

Relying on foreign law
John sends this M. Edward Whelan III essay on the Supreme Court improperly relying on foreign law.
Bush sticks to his position
The lying Bush-haters at the Wash. Post and San Jose Mercury News had this story as the top story today:
After originally saying anyone involved in leaking the name of a covert CIA operative would be fired, Bush told reporters: ``If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.''
No, what Bush originally said was:
If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of. I welcome the investigation. I am absolutely confident the Justice Department will do a good job. I want to know the truth. Leaks of classified information are bad things.
So what Bush originally said was nearly identical to what he is saying now. This is a good example of a dishonest anti-Bush story.

Update: The article not only misrepresents what Bush originally said, it also misrepresents what Bush subsequently said. The article says:

In June of 2004, Bush was asked if he would ``fire anyone found to'' leak the agent's name. ``Yes,'' he replied.
The actual exchange was:
Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts."

It seems clear to me that Bush is standing by his pledge to fire anyone who leaked a name in violation of the law. He is using "leak" to mean a criminal release of classified info. As usual, the Bush-haters are lying and Bush is telling the truth.
Guns, Germs, Steel
PBS TV says:
Jared Diamond's revolutionary theories about the course of human civilization come to the screen in GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL: A NATIONAL GEOGRPHIC PRESENTATION, a new three-part television series produced exclusively for PBS. Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning work offers a revealing look at the rise and fall of societies through the lens of geography, technology, biology and economics - forces symbolized by the power of guns, germs and steel. The series airs on PBS Mondays, July 11-25, 2005.
You may wonder how such a silly and wrongheaded book could get so much attention and praise. I have an explanation. The leftist-intellectual elites are strong believers in the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle:
The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.
This principle appeals very much to Marxists, atheists, and secular humanists. It even appeals to blog spammers, as a Google search reveals. It is nonsense.

Jared Diamond's main thesis is to deny human credit for the creation of Western Civilation. He says that it is all an accident of geography. All of the great men who are on pedestals in our history books were no better than the average uneducated savage in New Guinea. They just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

It is hard to see how anyone like Diamond could get such popular acclaim without subscribing to the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle.

Bob likes Diamond, and says, "What about James Watson?"

Bob reads my blog, so he must be joking. I previously pointed out that Watson promotes his own work as a great example of the principle.

I check the list of Pulitzer Prize winners for nonfiction books, to see if all the science-related books subscribe to the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle. Sure enough, there are several pro-evolution books. There is a book by Carl Sagan, who is famous for advocating life on other planets and other leftist causes. There is a book on Goedel's theorem, who supposedly shows that humans are unable to demonstrate truth. All try to knock man off the pedestal.

Bob writes:

This is a complete fabrication. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond attempts to answer the question asked by a man from New Guinea which can be summarized as, why are we so much better off than people in New Guinea? Diamond rejects genetics as an explanation based on the evidence that there is no disparity in mental capacity between people in New Guinea and us. Obviously culture is critical, but that explanation begs the question. It is clear that culture and genetics are entangled. Diamond's point is that culture is determined primarily by geography which determines what plants can be cultivated and what animals can be domesticated which determines resistance to germs. There is nothing in the book which can be reasonably interpreted as knocking man off his pedestal. If people who are enthralled with pedestal knocking like Diamond's book it isn't because Diamond writes about it in his book. I looked for left wing ideology when I read Guns... and found only one idiotic left wing statement, but it is unrelated to pedestal knocking. The fact that a book is pro-evolution does not mean that it automatically advocates pedestal knocking. I have seen no evidence of pedestal knocking in 3 of Dawkins' books which I have read. Reading books before commenting on them is the preferred approach.
Before Diamond discovered the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle, he wrote a Nature paper about how low dizygotic (aka fraternal or non-identical) twin rates in Asians may be related to small testis size. He suggests investigating the high twin rate for African blacks. Nobody praises him for that. Later, in his Germs book, he says, "in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners", and everybody thinks that he is a genius. Some people have even declared that his book belongs alongside Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure Of Man, as the two greatest books of all time. People support this junk for ideological reasons only.

To say that all of the achievements of Western Civilization are just accidents of geography is certainly an attempt to knock Man off the pedestal. Similarly, Gould's denial that intelligence is real, measurable, or significant is also an attempt to knock Man off the pedestal. There seems to be no limit to the praise that a socialist soft-science professor can get for his wacky ideas, as long as he is knocking Man off the pedestal.

Monday, Jul 18, 2005
Executing worm writers
This column says:
I'm almost convinced by Steven Landsburg's cost-benefit analysis showing that the spreaders of computer viruses and worms are more logical candidates for capital punishment than murderers are.

Professor Landsburg, an economist at the University of Rochester, has calculated the relative value to society of executing murderers and hackers. By using studies estimating the deterrent value of capital punishment, he figures that executing one murderer yields at most $100 million in social benefits.

The benefits of executing a hacker would be greater, he argues, because the social costs of hacking are estimated to be so much higher: $50 billion per year.

Would he execute Bill Gates?

Msft made a deliberate decision to make Windows vulnerable to computer viruses and worms because it suited its business interests. It has no legal liability, and it likes making users dependent on updates.

Bob writes:

When the first worm was (accidentally) released, a colleague suggested that the author be cut in half, referring to the fact that a flatworm becomes 2 living flatworms when it is cut in half. That was about 15 years ago. Isn't it time to focus on MicroSoft which has had 15 years to solve the problem and has only made it worse?
Solving the problem may not be in Msft's business interests.
Evolutionist censorship
Evolutions will do anything to censor their opponents. This blog says:
The Ethics of Mr. Leonard's Research. It has been alleged by three OSU professors at that Mr. Leonard's dissertation was "unethical human subject experimentation" because it examines the question: "When students are taught the scientific data both supporting and challenging macroevolution, do they maintain or change their beliefs over time?" According to the Columbus Dispatch, these professors acknowledge they have not read Mr. Leonard's dissertation, but they believe that Mr. Leonard's dissertation research must have been "unethical" because there are no valid scientific criticisms of evolution. (More info here.)
Only a leftist-atheist-evolutionist would make such a silly ethics argument in order to try to stop a grad student from doing a perfectly good study on teaching methods.

Monday, Jul 11, 2005
Iraq myths
This John Hawkins article debunks 8 Iraq war myths. It is amazing how the lying Bush-haters just say the same nonsense over and over again, no matter how many times it has been debunked.

Sunday, Jul 10, 2005
Pope on evolution
Andy writes:
With the bombshell last week that the Catholic Church is hinting rejection of evolution, it is worth revisiting the statement in French by Pope Paul II that evolutionists seized upon:

The Pope said: "Aujourd'hui, pres d'un demisiecle apres la parution de l'encyclique, de nouvelles connaisances condesuisent a reconnaitre dans la theorie de l'evolution plus qu'une hypothese."

The official Vatican newspaper translated this into English as: "Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical [Humani generis, 1950], new knowledge has led to the recognition of more than one hypothesis in the theory of evolution."

The evolutionists insisted on translating it as: "Today, more than a half century after this encyclical, new knowledge leads us to recognize in the theory of evolution more than a hypothesis."

I find the evolutionists' translation more awkard than the Vatican's, but the French is ambiguous. Under the evolutionists' view, one would expect a more direct articulation: "... new knowledge leads us to recognize THAT the theory of evolution IS more than a hypothesis."

Regardless, it is doubtful that Pope John Paul II himself believed in evolution, as most Polish reject the English theory. I don't think the Pope ever supported evolution in his voluminous writings. So who really wrote this statement? Ratzinger? If so, he is apparently on the road to repudiate evolution now.

Liza writes:
As I have said before, the "evolutionists'" translation of the Pope's statement is more accurate as a matter of fidelity to the French text. If I were you I wouldn't push your argument below publicly. I suppose there is a slight possibility that as a non-native French speaker the Pope didn't say what he really meant. But of course, as the Viennese cardinal recently explained, there is no reason to believe the Pope thought God was out of the loop.
Andy could be right about the translation of "one". A few sentences later the Pope said, "And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution." So it makes sense for him to speak of more than one hypothesis. Also:
The Vatican’s own observatory, quotes his address in their 1996 report. On it’s cover, they quote, “Today ... new knowledge leads us to the realization that evolution is more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge.” Along with his quote is a photo of what is labeled as a Martian meterorite.
So one of those "discoveries" might have been the 1996 claim that a Martian meteorite contained organic matter. That claim has now been discredited.
More on McConnell
Another blogger writes:
Saying that McConnell is the most famous social conservative in legal academia is not as meaningless as you believe. As you should know by now, McConnell argued before the Supreme Court that the Boy Scouts should be able to keep out homosexual scoutmasters; he argued that universities shouldn't discriminate against religious student publications; he argued on behalf of school vouchers. Those are just a few of the Supreme Court cases that he actually argued. And then there is his 1998 WSJ piece that criticized Roe on every possible ground. And then his signing of the First Things statement calling for (among other things) the Supreme Court to overrule Roe just as it overruled segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, and for a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

Look, you know how intolerant some of these law professors can be. Michael McConnell has put his neck on the line numerous times. He didn't have to do any of those things. He could have played it safe, been even more popular among his liberal colleagues, etc. Why on earth would a so-called "Souter" argue for so many things that he didn't believe in?

Tell you what, why don't you run your beliefs about McConnell by someone else who knows the guy? Say, Jay Sekulow, who has said that McConnell is his top choice for the Court.

Andy responds:
I've never said or implied that McConnell has "argue[d] for so many things that he didn't believe in." Quite the contrary, I'm assuming that McConnell *does* believe in the things he says, and doesn't believe in what he has obviously refused to say. For example, McConnell has said he opposes invocations at graduation, and I take him at his word. That issue is important enough on its own, but also implies a view against government morality, which is confirmed by McConnell's writings on other issues. This is a *huge* matter.

I also respect some of the courageous positions McConnell has taken, such as arguing in favor of the Boy Scouts. But not everyone I respect becomes suitable for Bush's rare pick to the Supreme Court.

It's the distortions of what McConnell says and believes that I object to. Even after our exchange of a dozen emails, you misstate that McConnell signed a statement "calling for ... the Supreme Court to overrule Roe just as it overruled segregation in Brown v. Board of Education." No, the statement oddly avoided saying that, carefully using the term "could" rather than "should". McConnell has expressly favored stare decisis to protect Roe against judicial challenge. He has volunteered that view under oath, and no one seriously doubts his word on this.

Jay Sekulow has said McConnell will "more likely to be with us than against us," which is not a stirring endorsement. Jay's position is that he'll support whomever Bush picks, and Jay probably views McConnell as a friend. However, others (including myself) feel the stakes are too high to be quiet as liberals pressure Bush from the opposite direction.

And the blogger responds:
Two points:

1. The 1996 statement was written by a bunch of dedicated opponents of Roe, including activists from every pro-life group you can name. But you are claiming that when they compared Roe to Plessy, they didn't really mean to imply that Roe should be overruled. What they really meant was hidden behind the word "could," which meant only that the Supreme Court "could THEORETICALLY" overrule Roe, but was secretly meant to hide the fact that the signers didn't want Roe to be overruled at all.

Step back for a minute, and think about whether that interpretation is plausible.

The obvious way to read the 1996 statement is this: The signers wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. But the Supreme Court's last word on the subject (Casey) spoke of the importance of stare decisis, the importance of not "overruling under fire," and so forth. So the signers took on that argument on its own terms. Their message was directed to the Kennedys and Souters on the Supreme Court. And that message was this: "The Supreme Court has overruled itself before, and has done so to its great credit. You [the Court] could do the same here, and it would only benefit your historical reputation as much as the Supreme Court benefited from the Brown decision."

In other words, imagine a dialogue:

Supreme Court in Casey: "We can't overrule Roe; to do so would be a sign of weakness."

1996 statement: "Oh, yes you COULD, and it would be a sign of moral strength."

It is quite erroneous to seize on the single word "could," take it utterly out of context, and then pretend that the signers really meant to imply that the Court "SHOULD" not overrule Roe. That was not McConnell's intent, and there is absolutely no reason to give the 1996 statement the reading that you do.

Indeed, the irony is rich here: McConnell, as one of the signers here, attacked the Supreme Court PRECISELY FOR RELYING ON STARE DECISIS, when it could have overruled Roe just as the Brown Court overruled Plessy. And yet you are attacking McConnell for supposedly wanting to preserve Roe through stare decisis.

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

2. It is you who are distorting McConnell's views beyond recognition, based on his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Come on. You know and everyone knows that nominees don't state the full import of their beliefs to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Instead, it's a giant game: The Democrats are trying to trap the nominees into saying their true feelings about Roe, while the nominees are trying their best to hide behind vague or ambiguous phrases.

That's precisely why several of Bush's nominees said that "Roe is settled law." John Ashcroft said that; Miguel Estrada said that; John Roberts said that; Priscilla Owen said that. But it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the nominee's own views of Roe. What they are really thinking is more like this: "Roe is settled [but I'd be perfectly willing to unsettle it]."

Same goes for McConnell's mention of stare decisis. He did NOT SAY that he favored stare decisis, that he believed Roe should be upheld, or anything remotely like that. All that he said was that Casey had relied on stare decisis. Well, so what? The Casey opinion DID rely on stare decisis. McConnell was describing that opinion truthfully. But he was very careful to say absolutely nothing about whether HE agreed with stare decisis here.

Indeed, McConnell was very smart. For someone who has publicly spent his entire career opposing Roe, he had to mollify the Senate Democrats so that they wouldn't filibuster him. So he said a lot of nice-sounding things about Roe, but if you think about it, everything he said gave ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE as to what HE HIMSELF would like to do with Roe.

It's a shame that McConnell's own intelligence and ability to survive tough Senate questioning are now being used against him by people who should be his biggest supporters.

There is a similar discussion here.

Here is what Ashcroft said, in his confirmation hearings:

I believe Roe v. Wade as an original matter was wrongly decided. I am personally opposed to abortion. But I well understand that the role of attorney general is to enforce the law as it is, not as I would have it. I accept Roe and Casey as the settled law of the land. If confirmed as attorney general, I will follow the law in this area and in all other areas. The Supreme Court’s decisions on this have been multiple, they have been recent and they have been emphatic.
He refused to say whether he would support reversing Roe.

Liza writes:

On the topic of Michael McConnell, check out this website if you haven't already. It has a lot of good quotes from McConnell's confirmation hearing, especially regarding polygamy and the free exercise clause. I've seen suggestions elsewhere that he might think there's a free exercise right to abortion, but I haven't been able to find quotes to support those suggestions.

In any case, I think conservatives should make more of the polygamy statements. They're not widely known. His statements on abortion are a little more ambiguous, but it seems perfectly clear to me that he would be a vote to strike down laws banning polygamous marriage (and by extension, gay marriage) as long as some clergyperson blesses the union.

I don't know about McConnell, but a lot of these judges seem to believe in judicial supremacy above all else. So no matter how much he thinks that Roe was wrongly decided, he may not reverse if he thinks that judicial supremacy is more important. Do we know what McConnell thinks about judicial supremacy?

A reader responds:

Read his 1997 HLR piece. His central thesis was that Congress has a right to interpret the Constitution differently from the Supreme Court. E.g, this paragraph:
In Boerne, the Court erred in assuming that congressional interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment is illegitimate. The historical record shows that the framers of the Amendment expected Congress, not the Court, to be the primary agent of its enforcement, and that Congress would not necessarily consider itself bound by Court precedents in executing that function. That does not mean that the Court is required to follow Congress's interpretation, any more than Congress is required to follow the Court's. But it does mean that the Court should give respectful attention - and probably the presumption of constitutionality - to the interpretive judgments of Congress. For the Court simply to assume the correctness of its own prior interpretations, and fail to take the contrary opinion of Congress into consideration, was unjustifiable.
Another strong clue is McConnell's introduction to his article on the right-to-die case (which was quoted in Mr. Schlafly's Worldnetdaily piece):
Last Term, the Roe era came to an end. Washington v. Glucksberg, 9 together with a companion case under the Equal Protection Clause, 10 squarely presented the question of whether federal courts, exercising the power of judicial review, have authority to resolve contentious questions of social policy on the basis of their own normative judgments. In a soft-spoken opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist that did not even cite Roe, a solid majority of the Court answered "no." The Court announced a constitutional jurisprudence of unenumerated rights under the Due Process Clause based not on the normative judgments of courts, but on constitutional text supplemented by the tradition and experience of the nation. Roe v. Wade was not reversed on its facts; the abortion right itself remains secure. But the constitutional methodology under which Roe was decided has been repudiated. The era of judicial supremacy epitomized by Roe is over.
In other words, McConnell was celebrating the end of "judicial supremacy." (Note that he was most decidedly not arguing that abortion OUGHT to "remain secure," but was merely describing the fact that the Supreme Court had not, in fact, overruled Roe itself.)

Also, it is simply a misstatement to say that McConnell is a libertarian. No libertarian would write the following passage, as McConnell did in reviewing a book by Ronald Dworkin:

The quotation from Casey is therefore an inadequate reason for the decision in the assisted suicide cases. A conscientious judge would have to examine the passage from Casey, compare it to the constitutional text and other relevant materials, think about the new context of assisted suicide, and then determine whether it makes sense to say that all matters involving "the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime" are constitutionally protected. Do we, for example, believe that the intimate and personal decision to fry one's brain with crack cocaine is constitutionally protected? Or that the state has no right to interfere when a healthy twenty-two-year-old graduate student hangs himself in a university apartment? Or that the intimate and personal decision to sell one's body for sexual gratification is protected? A conscientious judge, reflecting on such matters, might well conclude that the language of Casey is simply an example of overbroad judicial rhetoric.
The obvious answer to those rhetorical questions is "No." Whereas any libertarian would say that yes, using drugs or suicide or prostitution are within the rights of the individual.
I still don't see why McConnell said that "the only avenue for any change is through constitutional amendment", if he really believes that Roe can be reversed by the Supreme Court.
Universal common ancestor
Here is a 1998 article that throws doubt on the universal common ancestor theory.
The three kinds of genome offered a broad basis for triangulating back to the ancestral genome. But the emerging picture is far more complicated than had been expected, and the ancestor's features remain ill-defined though not wholly elusive. "Five years ago we were very confident and arrogant in our ignorance," said Dr. Eugene Koonin of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Now we are starting to see the true complexity of life."

Despite the quagmire in which their present efforts have landed them, biologists have not in any way despaired of confirming the conventional thesis, that life evolved on earth from natural chemical processes. But a ferment of rethinking and regrouping is under way. ...

A basic source of the confusion is that in the course of evolution whole suites of genes have apparently been transferred sideways among the major branches. Among animals, genes are passed vertically from parent to child but single-celled creatures tend to engulf each other and occasionally amalgamate into a corporate genetic entity. ...

A new and far-reaching theory about the universal ancestor has been developed by Woese. Though he declined to discuss it, because his article is due to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, colleagues said the theory envisages that all three kingdoms emerged independently from a common pool of genes.

The evolutionists claim that the universal common ancestor theory is a proven fact, but it is really just a guess.

Saturday, Jul 09, 2005
Prayer in schools
Another blogger writes to defend McConnell and to support his position against prayer in school:
Here's a conservative defense: Do you want government agents telling your children how to pray? Why on earth would you want that? What on earth makes you think that you can count on the government agents to be free from heresy? Are the teachers' unions full of godly people?

And you never answered my question from before: How do you feel about a Catholic teacher leading the kids in a "Hail Mary"? OK or not? How about a Muslim teacher mentioning Allah? Just another word for God, she says. OK or not? How about a Mormon teacher? You get the point. And if you're not comfortable having Mormons or Muslims teach your kid how to pray, why not give them the same respect?

Look, I'm all for school prayer -- in private schools and home schools. And in fact, I'd abolish public schools if I could. So there could be school prayer everywhere, as far as I'm concerned. But as long as the government is in charge, I can't think of any good reason why a decent Christian would rely on government-hired teachers for matters of prayer.

Anyway, saying that McConnell is not conservative because of this issue is like those liberals who deny that Souter is a liberal. After all, they say, Souter doesn't automatically vote against the death penalty, the way that Brennan and Marshall did. Well, ok, so Souter's only a 99% pure liberal, but he's still a liberal. So too, even if you think McConnell is only 99% pure conservative, he's still a conservative originalist. Anyone who is familiar with appellate litigation and legal academia knows that McConnell is (1) the most famous social conservative among law professors nationwide, and (2) the most prominent Supreme Court litigator on behalf of the free exercise of religion.

And if you think that McConnell is a defender of judicial supremacy, you should read his 1997 Harvard Law Review piece tearing apart the case of City of Boerne v. Flores precisely because the Supreme Court tried to seize too much power for itself under the 14th Amendment.

Andy responds:
But to address your point, there should not any censorship of religion in the classroom. What the local Board or State decides should govern. Those who disagree need not participate in the prayers. There is no role for the federal courts in this. The Constitution does not prohibit this now, or when the Constitution was ratified, or any time in between.

Would I mind if the local public school prayed to Allah? Not any more than the way public school promotes sexual behavior, teaches about suicide, force-feeds evolution, and generally advances a liberal agenda. My recourse is to campaign and vote against the elected officials who passed something I disagree with.

School prayer is the sine qua non of conservatives, and has been for decades. It reflects views on other aspects of public morality. Anyone who opposes school prayer (e.g., McConnell) is unlikely to be a conservative.

I haven't followed this McConnell issue, as Andy has. It sounds to me that (1) McConnell is mainly considered a conservative because of his advocacy for religious freedom, and (2) McConnell supports the line of Supreme Court decisions against school prayer.

This makes little sense to me. Andy's theory, as I understand it, is that McConnell is really a libertarian and not a conservative.

Personally, I do not favor saying the Hail Mary in public schools, but I see no reason why local school boards cannot make reasonable decisions. I think that it was a little strange when my daughter's local public school had a Christmas singing performance last December, and they could not sing any Christmas songs!

Those Supreme Court prayer decisions were not about the Hail Mary. They were aggressively anti-religion on both tone and effect. McConnell may have many fine credentials, but I fail to see why any religious conservatives would support him.

The Powerline blog says that McConnell has "made more clear his view that Roe v. Wade was not only wrongly decided, but utterly indefensible as a matter of constitutional law." Okay, but McConnell has also made it clear that Roe v Wade should be upheld anyway. I don't know who is impressed by such thinking.

Mercury and autism
USA Today says:
The argument over what is causing soaring rates of autism has reached a boiling point with furious parent groups and their famous allies accusing scientists and public health officials of hiding information to cover up their own mistakes. ...

"We're injecting poisons into children," said environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in a phone interview last week. ...

"There is a dangerous mistrust of science," says Paul Offit, an infectious-disease specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "I don't think it's new, but it may be worse."

Offit and other approved the mercury in the vaccines while on the vaccine makers' payrolls. The problem is not a mistrust of science. Offit is one of these people who think that an educated elite can tell everyone what to do, and if you disagree then you must be anti-science.
Poll: Americans doubt evolution
Here is a new Harris poll on evolution.

Only 12% say that schools should only teach that evolution says that human beings evolved from earlier stages of animals. Most people say that creationist alternatives should be taught.

The poll also found that those who think human beings developed from earlier species has dropped from 44% to 38%. Even among those with postgraduate degrees, belief in creationism seems to outrank belief in evolution.

And yet there is a leftist-atheist-Gouldian-evolutionist elite in this country that insists on brainwashing kids with its minority views.

Friday, Jul 08, 2005

Andy is attacked on the Powerline blog and he separately wrote this:
In my column posted on Worldnet Daily, I complained about frontrunner Supreme Court nominee McConnell's sworn testimony before the U. S. Senate that Roe v. Wade is "as thoroughly settled as any issue in current constitutional law." I have now found the context of that quote, and it is even worse! Here's McConnell's statement:
At the time Roe v. Wade came down, it was striking the statutes of at least 45, if not all 50 of the States of the Union. Today it is much more reflective of the consensus of the American people on the subject. I believe that the doctrinal analysis offered in Planned Parenthood v. Casey has connected the right much more persuasively to traditional legal materials, and then the weight of stare decisis simply indicates that this is an issue that is settled. It is as thoroughly settled as any issue in current constitutional law.
My guess is that the neoconservatives and RINOs are pushing McConnell because they would prefer that the Supreme Court not overturn Roe v. Wade. Note that no one else here (other than me) expressed support for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. We need a word to describe those who criticize Roe but don't want judicial reversal of it. Too many of them masquerade as being pro-life. Any pledge on this topic should ask that question directly.
I would have agreed with McConnell if he just said that Roe was settled law. That is a correct statement, and it says nothing about whether is should be overturned. A few years ago, anyone would have similarly said that the constitutionality of anti-sodomy laws was settled law.

But the McConnell quote goes beyond that in 2 ways that I won't defend.

1. He says Roe reflects an American consensus. That is false.
2. He cites "stare decisis" in support of Roe. This can only mean that he is against overturning it.

Roe v Wade helped prevent an American consensus on abortion. 30 years later, the issue is as divisive as ever. While most American believe that abortion should be legal under various circumstances, only about 5% agree with the Roe outcome, and even fewer agree with the legal reasoning. For McConnell to say that Roe reflects an American consensus is wacky and bizarre.

Catholics partially accept evolution
Catholic archbishop Christoph Schönborn says:
EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.

But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

In other words, the Church accepts the science, but not the hokey atheistic philosophy that usually gets taught with evolution.

Bob writes:

Can you support your claim that "hokey atheistic philosophy that usually gets taught with evolution"? You have yet to do so. You need more than one example to support your "usually" claim, unless you wish to retract it. Until you supply evidence I consider your claim to be hokey.
The NY Times has a follow-up article where evolutionists are upset that a Catholic would question evolution.
Darwinian evolution is the foundation of modern biology. While researchers may debate details of how the mechanism of evolution plays out, there is no credible scientific challenge to the underlying theory. ...

"Unguided," "unplanned," "random" and "natural" are all adjectives that biologists might apply to the process of evolution, said Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, ...

Notice the slippery evolutionist logic. First they define evolution to include the entire history of life on Earth. Then they say that there is no debate about the theory. Then some biologists use words like "unplanned", and they imply that it is a concept that everyone must accept.

Saying that life on Earth is unguided and unplanned is hokey atheist philosophy. It is not scientific fact.

Thursday, Jul 07, 2005
Missouri smokers lose
Missouri news:
Over the last four years, Missouri has recieved over one billion dollars from what's called the MSA, or master settlement agreement. That's money from the big tobacco companies, paid out to settle claims from the states for injuries caused by tobacco use.

The money is designed to pay the states back for past losses caused by caring for the sick, made ill by tobacco use. The money is also to be used to pay for anti-smoking campaigns, like advertising and hot lines for those who want to quit.

At least, that's the way it's supposed to work, but in Missouri, not one dime of the tobacco money has been spent on its intended purpose.

Missouri ranks last among the states in tobacco prevention spending, but third in the number of smokers per capita.

The states should not have used the courts to try to solve what is really a political problem.
Real strength of evolution
Some NY Times evolutionist propaganda says:
Biologists might do well to keep Planck in mind as they confront creationism and "intelligent design" and battle to preserve the teaching of evolution in public schools. ...

Scientists don't talk often enough or loud enough about the real strength of evolution - not that it is correct, but that it meets the definition of science.

I thought that the real strength of evolution was that it explains observations or that it helps classify life.

(The article has a silly error about radiocarbon dating. I wonder if there will be a correction.)

Attacking the Wedge
Here is an evolutionist attack on the so-called Wedge Strategy against evolution:
Another problem with the CRSC's plan is that it seeks to replace evolutionary theory at a time when the theory enjoys nearly unanimous support in the scientific community. Thomas Kuhn, in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, describes what has happened historically when one theory comes to replace another. He writes that the anomaly of an insufficient theory will have "lasted so long and penetrated so deep that one can appropriately describe the fields affected by it as in a state of growing crisis . . . the emergence of new theories is generally preceded by a period of pronounced professional insecurity." Kuhn's point is clear. Before a new theory in science is sought, there is usually a growing crisis coupled with mounting skepticism, doubt, and the elucidation of cogent reasons for thinking that the existing theory is inadequate. Where is the growing crisis that casts doubt on evolution and methodological naturalism, the tool that led to the theory of evolution?
That is a leftist-Kuhnian-evolutionist rationale for eliminating dissent. Seeking a new theory must wait for the "elucidation of cogent reasons" and other nonsense. This sounds like Marxist drivel to me.
Conservatives on evolution
The New Republic magazine asks how "leading conservative thinkers and pundits feel about evolution and intelligent design".
William Kristol, The Weekly Standard

Whether he personally believes in evolution: "I don't discuss personal opinions. ... I'm familiar with what's obviously true about it as well as what's problematic. ... I'm not a scientist. ... It's like me asking you whether you believe in the Big Bang."

How evolution should be taught in public schools: "I managed to have my children go through the Fairfax, Virginia schools without ever looking at one of their science textbooks."

Does Kristol mean that his kids never looked at their science textbooks?

Tuesday, Jul 05, 2005
Senator Arlen Specter, supremacist
John sends this Franck column:
Specter is Washington's foremost advocate of judicial supremacy, and he has pressed every nominee for the last two decades to embrace a view of the Constitution in which the Congress of the United States is a subordinate agency, subject to the Court's binding authority on all questions of its — the Congress's — own power.

Here is a sampling from this Spectral line of questioning over the years:

*To Robert Bork, 1987: "[U]nless there is an appeal and a change in the Court's decision, . . . such a decision does establish a supreme law of the land that is binding on all persons and parts of the Government."

*To Anthony Kennedy, 1987: "[A]s long as the Court has said what the Court concludes the Constitution means, then I think it is critical that there be an acceptance that that is the final word."

*To David Souter, 1990: Marbury v. Madison is "the 1803 case where it was decided by the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court had the last word on what the Constitution meant."

*To Clarence Thomas, 1991: "[T]he Supreme Court has the last word, no doubt in your mind about that."

*To Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993: "The decision in Marbury v. Madison established the supremacy of the Supreme Court to decide constitutionality of issues, and there are some up to the moment who dispute that."

*To Stephen Breyer, 1994: "We know the courts are supreme to both the Congress and the president because the court told us so in Marbury v. Madison. When the Constitution was formed, Congress was number one, the president was number two in the second Article, courts didn't come up until Article Three, but all that was changed. It was renumbered in Marbury v. Madison."

Probably no senator has ever been so slavishly devoted to the historical falsehood that Marbury v. Madison is the fount of judicial supremacy. In fact that anti-constitutional doctrine is entirely a fabrication of the last century or so, as some of the best recent scholarship has shown.

I didn't know that he had such a dangerously wrong judicial philosophy. Specter should never have been allowed to be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. When Specter took his oath of office, it was to the Constitution, not to the Supreme Court's interpretation and opinion.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown
A WSJ op-ed suggests appointing Judge Janice Rogers Brown. She would get my vote.

Sunday, Jul 03, 2005
Kansas school money
The leftist-evolutionist-supremacists are threatening to close the Kansas schools.
SF dope heads
John sends this story:
There are two medical marijuana clubs for every McDonald's in The City — that's roughly 40 clubs to only 20 restaurants. Even adding the number of Burger Kings leaves fast-food franchises short of cannabis dispensaries. Only the ubiquitous Starbucks chain tops pot clubs, with a total of 71 coffee shops.

... "Unfortunately, the demand for fast food evidently isn't as high as it is for cannabis," Elsbernd said. "We have a problem and we need to address it."

The city is San Francisco.
LA Times on O'Connor
John writes:
Spot the howler in this lead editorial in the L.A. Times, now edited by Michael Kinsley, a graduate of the Harvard Law School.
Hmmm. It says:
One fact sums up Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's pivotal role on the Supreme Court and the enormity of her resignation — she alone was in the majority of every one of the court's 13 5-4 decisions this last term.
That cannot be right, because Breyer was the only one in the majority for the last 2 5-4 decisions (on the 10 Commandments). Perhaps Kinsley was duped by this AP story that said O'Connor was the swing vote.

Or maybe this:

No one engaged with real-world facts, for instance, could allow Roe vs. Wade to be overturned.
That opinion is nutty; the real-world facts are that overturning Roe v Wade would not even effect the abortion rate in the USA very much.

It says, "she voted to strike down state sodomy laws", but it would be more accurate to say that she voted to uphold sodomy laws in 1986. In 2003, she voted to strike down a particular sodomy law, but refused to reverse her 1986 opinion.

It is amazing how a conservative can gain so much favor from liberal media Kinsley types by favoring abortion and sodomy, even if her opinions are nonsensical and contradictory.

John adds, "O'Connor was on the losing side of another high profile 5-4 decision: Kelo v. City of New London." Others are listed here.

Update: This blog says she was in the majority last term in 14 of the 24 5-4 decisions.

Saturday, Jul 02, 2005
Liberal justice explained
Liberal-feminist-supremacist court reporter Dahlia Lithwick says this about Justice O'Connor:
She shocked me again in the fall of 2000, when I was covering oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. Justice O'Connor, 70 years old at the time, was listening to an argument about how to count the notorious "butterfly ballots" that had confused Florida voters, especially the elderly. Her characteristically tart reaction to the voters' difficulties- "For goodness' sakes, I mean it couldn't be easier" - crushed any liberal dreams that some heightened feminine compassion would decide this case for Al Gore.

Suffice it to say, Justice O'Connor is a huge mystery to most women of my generation.

So women lawyers of her generation expect female judges to be irrational, confused, and willing to use phony arguments about compassion to advance a leftist agenda.

Friday, Jul 01, 2005
O'Conner didn't really resign
Andy writes:
O'Connor made her resignation contingent on, and delayed until, a successor is confirmed. This is the same stunt pulled by Earl Warren.

I had a good fragment in "The Supremacists" complaining about this tactic, but it was edited out. In fairness, my complaint was not well articulated and I've been meaning to explain further ever since.

The Constitution does not permit interference by a resigning Justice in the nomination process in this manner. The President cannot nominate and the Senate cannot confirm until there is a vacancy. There is not a vacancy until a Justice truly resigns. Sitting justices need to stay in or get out. Doesn't O'Connor read the Constitution???

Senators may decide they prefer O'Connor to a replacement, and thereby filibuster a nominee. O'Connor's tactic takes public pressure off of swift confirmation. This may be worth a column that criticizes her in other ways also. The most fickle Justice ever?

John responds:
Chuck Schumer immediately picked up on this. Commenting on her contingent resignation today, Schumer said:
To show Justice O'Connor's brilliance, her letter says she won't resign until her successor is confirmed. This gives us plenty of time. There will be no rush to judgment, because the Supreme Court will have its full complement of 9 people until the Senate chooses someone. We have plenty of time to do our constitutional advice and consent duties, thanks to Justice O'Connor's pragmatic decision to wait until her successor is confirmed. That's another indication of her brilliance.
Schumer had already left town, but he rushed back to Washington to hold a press conference in which he praised O'Connor as a "pragmatic, non-ideological, and mainstream Supreme Court Justice." He then said:
We would expect the president to maintain the critical balance of the Court that Justice O'Connor fought so long and hard for by nominating a consensus, mainstream nominee. ... We hope the president chooses someone thoughtful, mainstream, pragmatic -- someone just like Sandra Day O'Connor. In short, we should replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a consensus candidate, not an ideologue.
I agree with Bork that the only reason her replacement is a hot political issue is that leftist-activist-supremacist judges have politicized the court.