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Monday, Jun 30, 2008
ANWR oil
A reader send the truth about ANWR drilling. The pictures tell the story. Ten years ago we were told that the oil would not do us any good because it would not be available for ten years.

Friday, Jun 27, 2008
Only four constitutionalists
From the latest US Supreme Court decisions, it has become increasingly clear that we only have four reliable constitutionalists on the court. In Boumediene v Bush, the court ruled 5-4 that enemy combatants in Gitmo can file claims in US federal court. It ignored where the Constitution says that Congress has the power to define federal court jurisdiction. John McCain said that it was one the court's worst decisions, and Barack Obama praised the possibility of Osama bin Laden filing court petitions, if he is captured alive.

In Giles v California, the court affirmed the 6A right of a criminal defendant to face and cross-examine his accusers.

A 5-4 majority in Kennedy v Louisiana said that the Constitution forbids the death penalty for child rape because of a consensus on the issue, even tho a recent poll found that about half of Americans favor such a penalty.

Justice Scalia delineated in DC v Heller what gun-loving Americans have always believed, that the 2A guarantees an individual right to own guns. The four liberal dissenters again show their contempt for the Constitution, and for precedent. Lucky for us, Justice Kennedy joined the four constitutionalists. Scalia wrote:

Nowhere else in the Constitution does a “right” attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right.
Remember this whenever you hear someone talk about states rights. There is no such thing. Only liberals talk about it, and not those who believe in following the text of the Constitution.

All this adds up to the fact that Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito are the only justices who reliably follow the text of the Constitution. Obama voted against Alito's confirmation, and it is safe to say that if Obama had been President, his appointments would have zeroed out our 2A gun rights.

Update: The NY Times reports that the supposed "national consensus" against executing child rapists is contradicted by the fact that the US military currently has a death penalty for child rapists, and the last person executed was a child rapist.

Thursday, Jun 26, 2008
More quantum gravity nonsense
SciAm magazine another wacky and unscientific cosmology article. It is titled Using Causality to Solve the Puzzle of Quantum Spacetime, formerly, "The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe".

The article claims that, while searching for quantum gravity, a computer simulation showed that spacetime should have 4.02 dimensions. The model does not include any matter, gravity, or quantum mechanics. This stuff is not any more scientific than Intelligent Design.

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2008
No customers offended by video game
The NY Times reports:
Lawyers who sued the makers of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas profess to be shocked, simply shocked, that few people who bought the game were offended by sex scenes buried in its software. ...

Far bigger than the payout to plaintiffs will be the fees sought by the lawyers who brought the class action. Mr. Lesser and his colleagues at 10 other law firms have asked for more than $1.3 million — compared with less than $30,000 that Take-Two Interactive’s lawyers say it will spend to resolve the claims for $5 to $35 each (and, sometimes, a sanitized copy of the game).

The judge should dismiss the case. The lawyers could not even find many people to say that they have been damaged, even when offered free money. Lawyers fees should not be greater than the alleged damages.

Sunday, Jun 22, 2008
Another gay brain study is distorted
William Saletan of Slate mag writes:
Last month, when the California Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right, it repeatedly invoked the precedent of interracial marriage. An attorney involved in the case protested, "There is no evidence to establish that a homosexual lifestyle is an immutable characteristic such as race."

He's wrong. There's lots of evidence. More of it just came out this week. It's been driving the gay rights debate all along, away from the clutches of religion and into the clutches of science. ...

A new study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hints at what's coming. Previous gay-brain studies focused on structures or responses that might have been shaped by social interactions. To screen out social factors, authors of the new study relied on brain scans rather than behavioral responses, and they targeted structures known to form during or shortly after gestation. "That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn't be altered by learning or cognitive processes," the lead author explains.

The sample consisted of 25 straight men, 25 straight women, 20 gay men, and 20 lesbians. In overall symmetry and amygdala activity, the brains of gay men resembled the brains of straight women, whereas the brains of lesbians resembled the brains of straight men. Previous work has connected such differences to fear, anxiety, aggression, and verbal, spatial, and navigational ability. It's not just a matter of preferring men or women. The broader implication, one expert argues, is that "in gay men, the brain is feminized."

No, Saletan is wrong. This latest study does not establish that a homosexual lifestyle is an immutable characteristic such as race. First, it only looked at 20 gay men, and may not generalize to larger populations. Second, it did not study immutability, only brain characteristics that are thought to be formed early in life.

More importantly, the study does not find any discrete difference between heteros and homos. While it finds certain average differences, the vast majority of people fall into a big gray area which would be consistent with being hetero or homo, according to this study.

It is hard to say precisely, because the study did not release the raw data. According to this observer, the study is consistent with the following:

Rightward hemispheric asymmetry was found in the brains of 14 of 25 heterosexual males and 11 of 20 homosexual females, but in only 13 of 25 heterosexual females and 10 of 20 homosexual males.
If that is correct, then the study doesn't really even provide a good way of distinguishing heteros from homos.

That blog also points out that a major finding of the study was that heteros (both men and women) had much bigger brains than homos. Not sure if that is significant.

Another big problem is that no causal mechanism is proposed. It is possible, for example, that certain brain characteristics channel homos into certain occupations, and then cultural influences in those occupations lead them to become homosexual. If so, then the brain data would not say anything about the immutability of the homosexuality.

Saturday, Jun 21, 2008
Synthetic diamonds are not fake
The NY Times has an article on fake gems, except that the gems are not fake at all. Fake gems are made of cubic zirconium or glass. The article is about real diamonds that are composed of the same face-centered cubic carbon crystals that make up every other diamond.

Friday, Jun 20, 2008
Unlicensed driver was illegal
I commented below about an illegal alien who killed a child in a traffic accident last weekend. Today, that same new newspaper reports that it has now discovered that the driver was an illegal alien! The front page story says:
Why driver in fatal crash was unlicensed

Not only was the driver of a Ford Bronco that fatally struck a 12-year-old girl unlicensed, but San Jose police say she is also an illegal immigrant, renewing the debate over whether undocumented people should be allowed to apply for driver's licenses.

The revelation that Adriana Fierro De Marin, 31, is in the country illegally struck yet another chord with the family of Breanna Slaughter-Eck, still reeling from the loss of the Hoover Middle School sixth-grader.

"I'm worried that she just might flee now and walk away from all this," said Joe Castro, the man who raised Breanna for the last four years. For her part, Breanna's mother simply wants justice.

Who are they kidding? The city is crawling with unlicensed drivers, and they are all illegal aliens. It should not have taken four days for the newspaper to figure that out.

Thursday, Jun 19, 2008
Right to defend yourself
Until today, a criminal defendant had a constitutional right to defend himself in court without a lawyer. The US Supreme Court in Indiana v Edwards just ruled 7-2 that can lose that right if a judge and a psychiatrist agree to take the right away from you. Then you have to let a lawyer represent you.

Scalia and Thomas dissented, said:

In my view, the Constitution does not permit a state to substitute its own perception of fairness for the defendant's right to make his own case before the jury -- a specific right long understood to a fair trial.
Thomas and Scalia are still the best men on the court. There is more discussion of the case here. The oral argument concerned belief in Martians.

A better solution would be to force the states to give pro se defendants fair trials. Prosecutors should not be depending on tricky lawyering in order to outsmart defense lawyers.

We should get the DC gun case result on Monday. That will really tell us where the justices stand on individual constitutional rights.

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2008
How judges get appointed
How do judges get their jobs? I thought that they were either elected, or appointed by elected officials. Nope. This article explains:
The issue of how we get our judges bubbles up again because the state of Missouri has a new job opening for a supreme court justice. Justice Steven Limbaugh -- Rush’s cousin -- has left, taking an appointment to the federal bench.

But the governor now picks a person to be confirmed by the state senate, right?

Wrong. Not in Missouri. Instead, the Appellate Judicial Commission, in a closed process, chooses three nominees. The governor is then forced to take one of their picks.

You can see what this seems like: an insider game, a stacked deck.

The seven member commission -- composed of three lawyers elected by members of the Missouri Bar, three people appointed by the governor and the state’s chief justice -- is essentially controlled by the Missouri Bar Association. Current Governor Matt Blunt has made only one appointment to the commission.

Is it really a good idea to have our most powerful judges determined largely by a private organization?

No, it is not a good idea. A lot of other states follow the Missouri plan, as you can see in this map.

Monday, Jun 16, 2008
Illegal alien kills child
The San Jose newspaper reports:
Police confirmed today that the woman who struck and killed San Jose middle-school student Breanna Slaughter-Eck, who was riding her bicycle home on the last day of school, does not have a driver's license.

The 31-year-old driver, Adriana Fierro De Marin, did not have a driver's license, nor was one ever issued in the state of California, according to police Sgt. Mike Sullivan.

Note how the police and paper avoid telling us that she is an illegal alien.
That Buzz in Your Ear May Be Green Noise
The NY Times reports:
She is, in other words, a victim of “green noise” — static caused by urgent, sometimes vexing or even contradictory information played at too high a volume for too long. ...

Leaders of Greenpeace also decided to help its audience prioritize environmental concerns, said Kate Smolski, a senior legislative coordinator. So instead of asking people to juggle disparate concerns — including nuclear waste, coal pollution, deforestation and ocean wildlife endangerment — the group now tries to bundle them under the umbrella of climate change.

So now, when the group campaigns against nuclear energy, it labels reactors a “false solution” to global warming. When the group talks about deforestation, the focus is on its contribution to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“It’s very helpful,” Ms. Smolski said, “to show that it’s all connected.”

Green noise is a good term for it. White noise is a term for a audio signal which is an incoherent mixture of all frequencies, just as white light is a mixture of all colors. It sounds a little like a hissing sounds, and you cannot hear any actual musical notes in it.

Green noise describes the conflicting messages of the environmentalists. A lot of their messages, such as their opposition to nuclear energy, just don't make any sense. With climate change, they finally have the perfect cause that is irrefutable and compatible with whatever silly advice they give.

Friday, Jun 13, 2008
Environmentalists cause more destruction
The San Jose paper reports:
BONNY DOON -- State officials attempted to clear brush two years ago on the piece of land a where a fire now raging in Santa Cruz County began, but much of the work was delayed and ultimately not finished because of opposition from two local environmental groups.

The fire began in an area of sandstone outcroppings known as Moon Rocks on the 550-acre Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, commanders for Cal Fire confirmed. The reserve, an ancient seabed famed for its rare plants and trees, has not had a significant fire since 1948. As a result, dead trees and brush were piled high.

The Martin fire has so far burned 10 houses and 600 acres, just a few miles from my house. I can see the smoke from my yard. It is 25% contained.

This is not an isolated incident. Many forest fires every years are caused or worsened by environmentalist actions. The tree-hugger folks are actually destroying the trees.

Commie judge stops executions
USA Today reports:
ELYRIA, Ohio (AP) — A judge in Ohio says the state's method of putting prisoners to death is unconstitutional because two of three drugs used in the lethal injection process can cause pain.
The article has a picture with a caption:
Lourain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge speaks in his office in Lorain, Ohio as posters of Che Guevara and Barack Obama hang on his wall.
Guevara is mainly famous for the dozens of innocent people he executed in the name of Communism.

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2008
All science theories have strengths and weaknesses
evolutionary biologist, is professor of psychology David P. Barash writes:
No reputable college or university will teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of atomic theory or the theory of gravity. Evolutionary theory is no different, ...
I wonder if this guy has ever taken a Physics class. Of course they teach the strengths and weaknesses of atomic theory and the theory of gravity. They did while I was in college. Currently, a major weakness of the theory of gravity is that it does not explain dark energy. Another is that gravitons and gravity waves have never been observed.

Monday, Jun 09, 2008
The myth of heterosexual AIDS
Joe sends this:
A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared.

In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.

Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.

Dr De Cock said: "It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalised epidemic in Asia – China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. ..."

and asks, "How can it be over if we never had one?"

The guy who really nailed this issue was journalist Michael Fumento. He wrote a whole book 20 years ago giving a clear-eyed explanation of why there would be no global heterosexual AIDS pandemic. You can read his papers on the subject here. He was widely vilified by AAAS Science magazine and the rest of the science establishment, but he was ultimately proved correct.

Fumento now reports on the Iraq War.

The above article quotes a UN WHO epidemiologist named Dr. De Cock, saying:

But the factors driving HIV were still not fully understood, he said.

"The impact of HIV is so heterogeneous. In the US , the rate of infection among men in Washington DC is well over 100 times higher than in North Dakota, the region with the lowest rate. That is in one country. How do you explain such differences?"

This sounds like a parody. The UN AIDS expert is some joker named Dr. De Cock who is just now figuring out what Fumento published 20 years, but still cannot figure out why Washington DC might be different from North Dakota! (Yes, De Cock seems to be his real name.)

Thursday, Jun 05, 2008
New evolutionist paranoia
The NY Times reports:
Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are “creationism” or “intelligent design” or even “creator.”

The words are “strengths and weaknesses.”

Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, ...

The evolutionists must be really insecure in their beliefs, if they want to outlaw teaching the strengths and weaknesses. Real scientists are eager to explain the strengths and weaknesses of their theories.
Obama's DNA
In a prepared speech on Rev. Wright, Barack Obama started with this:
Hello everybody. Before I start taking questions I want to just open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entore adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA. Trying to promote mutual understanding. to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am. That's what I believe. That's what this campaign has been about.
Obama is indeed obsessed with his DNA, as he wrote a whole book on race and inheritance.

But where has Obama ever bridged any gaps? Republican John McCain has a long history of making deals with Democrats, but where has Obama even tried to make a deal with Republicans, or compromised with Republicans?

Obama invites scrutiny of his DNA, but it is not so good. He was born in Hawaii. His father was a Mohammedan Kenyan economist who had a wife in Africa at the time. His mother was an atheist anthropology student. Both were hard-core leftists. His father soon went back to Africa.

Obama lived for a few years in Indonesia, and then attended elite schools in the USA. He never suffered from racial discrimination, and benefited from affirmative action. As a Mohammedan convert to Christianity, he would face the death penalty in some arab countries. He has chosen to identify with black Americans, even tho his DNA has little to do with those Americans of West African descent.

If there is one common thread to Obama's background, it is his anti-Americanism. His parents were America-haters. He joined a racist and anti-American church. His wife badmouths America. He gets most of his support from those who oppose American military power. His campaign slogan is "Change", and he has little to say about what he wants to change, except that he is unhappy with America as it is.

I do think that electing Obama would be terrible for race relations in this country. Black Americans will discover that they have little in common with Obama. Yes, some of them belong to an anti-American radical church like Obama's, but most do not.

Tom Sowell writes:

Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times. But, when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America. ... The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2008
More on defending Karl Rove
A challenges my defense of Karl Rove below, and writes:
The problem is that when McClellan was working as (deputy) WH press secretary, McClellan told the press, repeatedly and categorically, that neither Karl Rove nor any other senior WH official (including Cheney's staff) was "involved" in any way in the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity.

Of course, that was not the whole truth. Both Rove and Scooter Libby were "involved" in the disclosure of Valerie's identity, even if their involvement was merely to "confirm" rather than to initially "leak" her identity. ...

McClellan then went out and told the press in effect: "I just spoke to Karl Rove and Karl assured me that he was not involved in any way, shape or form with the leaking or disclosure of the fact that Joe Wilson went to Africa partly because of his wife who works at the CIA. And furthermore, other senior staff of the White House and the Vice President have all given me the same assurance. So I can categorically assure the American people that as far as anyone knows, nobody at the White House was involved in any way, shape or form in this matter."

As we now know, McClellan's statements were untrue -- either because Rove and Libby (and perhaps Bush and Cheney) deliberately misled McClellan -- or at least they allowed McClellan to misunderstand what they told him, which then allowed McClellan to mislead the press.

I don't blame McClellan for feeling burned and abused by his former colleagues. There is still no good explanation for why everyone involved did not tell the whole truth from the get-go. What purpose was served by secretly divulging this information about Valerie, then attempting (in Libby's case, unsuccessfully) to deny having done so?

This otherwise inexplicable behavior suggests there may be some truth to leftwing conspiracy theories that there was a much bigger nefarious strategy going on here, namely to cover up how the neocons lied us into the Iraq war.

You misstate what McClellan said. He said that Rove told him that he was not involved in the leaking of classified info. There is a big difference.

Rove has consistently denied leaking any classified info. He told the same story to the grand jury. Fitzgerald did everything he could to trap Rove in a lie, but failed. I am not sure that Rove even knew Valerie Plame's name, or had any classified info about her. All he did was to confirm that Joe Wilson's wife had a role in the CIA sending him to Africa.

There was a very legitimate purpose for what Rove did. Joe Wilson wrote a damaging NY Times op-ed, and the Democrats were circulating the story that Cheney sent Wilson to Africa and then ignored his report. Rove and Libby wanted to rebut that story by saying that it was Wilson's wife who sent him to Africa, and Cheney never even knew about it or saw the report.

Rove and Scooter Libby were under orders from the White House not to talk about the Plame leak, pending the criminal investigation. What they could do was to deny being involved in a crime. That is what they did. As far as we know, that was the truth. (Lewis was convicted for perjury, but not for leaking Plame's name. His lie was that he said that Plame was mentioned in a particular phone call with Tim Russert, while Russert said that she was not mentioned.)

As I see it, Fitzgerald caught Rove and Libby with minor and inconsequential inconsistencies in their testimony. Rove chose to amend his testimony, while Libby chose to stick to his story. Rove got the better legal advice. Neither did anything illegal or wrong.

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008
Dark energy
The NY Times has an article on dark energy:
“The discovery of dark energy has greatly changed how we think about the laws of nature,” said Edward Witten, a theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. ...

As far as astronomers can tell, there is no relation between dark matter, the particles, and dark energy other than the name, but you never know. ...

Zero can be a fundamental number, he said, but not a 1 with 59 zeroes between it and the decimal point.

As a result, he said, maybe physicists should give up trying to explain that number and look instead for a theory that generates all kinds of universes, a so-called multiverse.

The article mentions Einstein 14 times, even tho he never had anything to say about dark energy. The article does not mention dark buzz.

What Witten is saying here is that String Theory has been a total failure at explaining dark energy or anything else in the real world. The discovery of dark energy has been a crippling blow to the theory. So instead, Witten and others have moved on to saying that string theory might explain other universes that are not observable.

According to muliverse advocates, all of the movies (that don't have some logical inconsistency) have actually happened in some alternate universe, just as we saw them in the theater. We cannot communicate with the other universes, so there is no way we can know for sure that the other universes even exist.

Monday, Jun 02, 2008
No labor shortage
Half Sigma writes:
There's a NY Times article about how there's a labor shortage in Iowa. I think that this one sentence explains the whole "shortage":

Companies want to be in Iowa because wages are lower than elsewhere in the nation or region, except South Dakota.

I was ready to move there until I read that sentence. If there were a genuine labor shortage in Iowa, wages would be higher than elsewhere in the nation.
He is correct. Iowa has a surplus of immigrants, not a shortage.

Sunday, Jun 01, 2008
McClellan lies about what Bush said
Scott McClellan's new book seems to be just an unoriginal recitation of Democrat talking points. But I am now adding him to my list of lying Bush-haters. On today's NBC Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: The president said at the time that "if someone committed a crime, they'd no longer work in my administration." Do you believe the president should have fired Karl Rove?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's a, that's a question that the president had to make, and he chose not to.

MR. RUSSERT: But what do you think?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I, I think he should have stood by his word. I think the president should have stood by the word that we said, which is if you were involved in this any way, then you would no longer be in this administration. And Karl was involved in it. That would be a tough decision. I don't know if, if there was any crime committed. I don't--I say I just don't know that in the book. But we had higher standards at the White House. The president said he was going to restore honor, integrity. He said we were going to set the highest of standards. We didn't live up to that. When it became known that his top adviser had been involved, then the bar was moved. And the bar was moved to "if anyone is indicted, they would no longer be here."

No, Bush never promised to fire anyone for just being "involved". Russert's quote is more accurate, as I explained before here and here. I even defended McClellan, but I now have to consider the possibility that he was deliberately lying to embarrass Pres. Bush. He certainly lying now. The Fitzgerald investigation proved that Karl Rove told the truth when he told McClellan that he was not involved in the leaking of classified info, and Bush kept his promise and fired Scooter Libby, the only one accused of a crime.