October 2005 Archives
PZ Myers, an associate professor of biology at Univerity of Minnesota at Morris, has a great blog, Pharyngula that today points me to a technique that may be the only reasonable way to resolve the "debate".
Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---
(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)
Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?
(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)
Intelligent Design advocate: YEAAARRRRGGGHHHH! YOU BROKE MY KNEECAP!
Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the "naturalistic" explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.
Here's the full "debate": The Abstract Factory: The only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its subject.
The world's biggest retailer and the US Secret Service working together to make America safe.
(A teacher, Selina) Jarvis assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb's-down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster."
According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent. But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect.
An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service. On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.
Full story here.
A fantastic picture. At first you think this must be a illustration or some Photoshop composite, but:
The spacecraft was very nearly in the plane of the rings at this time, thinning them by perspective and masking their awesome scale
Click here to see full size views.
The United States spends 47% of the world's total military budget and more than the next forty highest spending countries ... combined!
Chart source www.infoplease.com.
Today our Dear Leader explained why he has chosen Harriet Miers:
"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," he said. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."
It seems pretty clear that his action makes him guilty of one high crime and two misdemeanors.
Misdemeanor No. 1: In using religion as a key basis for offering Miers a job, the president would appear to have violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the law "prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
Misdemeanor No. 2: More specifically, one could make the case that Bush's actions are also in violation of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which specifically covers federal employees. According to the same EEOC primer: "The CSRA prohibits any employee who has authority to take certain personnel actions from discriminating for or against employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability."
High crime: As you might expect, the "high crime" here is more serious, and is also the area where it's hardest to argue that the president did not cross the line. We are referring to Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Hopefully someone in a position to do something about this will start compiling a list, because as we all know, there are many more crimes he and his cronies have committed. Write your elected representatives now !!!
In recent interviews promoting his latest book A Man Without A Country Kurt Vonnegut has stated, in his usual arch way:
I think we are terrible animals and I think our planet's immune system is trying to get rid of us, and it should.
Illustrating the validity of his position, from As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound, in today's New York Times:
CHURCHILL, Manitoba - It seems harsh to say that bad news for polar bears is good for Pat Broe. Mr. Broe, a Denver entrepreneur, is no more to blame than anyone else for a meltdown at the top of the world that threatens Arctic mammals and ancient traditions and lends credibility to dark visions of global warming.
Still, the newest study of the Arctic ice cap - finding that it faded this summer to its smallest size ever recorded - is beginning to make Mr. Broe look like a visionary for buying this derelict Hudson Bay port from the Canadian government in 1997. Especially at the price he paid: about $7.
"It's the positive side of global warming ..."
Consisting of three volumes, but not a trilogy, and spanning almost 3000 pages, Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle is an epic novel set in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. (This is similar to the Lord of the Rings, which is often referred to as a trilogy, but was too big for the the publishers to put out in one volume, much to Tolkien's objection.) It spans adventures around a world that is moving into the "Age of Enlightenment" and anticipates the industrial age. The novel has been described as historical science-fiction, with elements of court intrigue, cryptography, economics, wars, plagues, philosophy, pirates, and more.
Cryptonomicon was published prior to The Baroque Cycle but is essentially a sequel to the other books, weighing in with another 900 pages. This book shifts between WWII and the present, if not the near future, and includes characters who are descendants of families that appeared in The Baroque Cycle volumes as well as the apparently immortal alchemist/priest(?)/adventurer, Enoch Root. The plot revolves around the strenuous effort to hide the fact that the Allies have broken German and Japanese secret codes and intrigue related to buried golden treasure stolen by the original Axis of Evil which is desired by all parties in the modern parts of the story.
In these books, Stephenson exhibits a bottomless appetite for digression, discursion and embellishment as well as multi-layered and engaging plots. Not everybody's cup of tea I am sure, but immersing myself in these books was quite enjoyable. I was both relieved and sorry to get to the end.
Stephenson is also the author of, among other books, Snowcrash, a cyberpunk look into a dystopian urban future and The Diamond Age, set in a Hong Kong of the future controlled by nanotechnology where the ruling class emulates the manners and mores of Victorian England. Really.
I've been speechless for a long time but I may as well cut my tongue out, as from Daily Kos, Our Leader keeps peddling the same old crap:
President George W. Bush sought on Saturday to dispel concerns about the readiness of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, declaring himself "encouraged" even though his top generals say the number of battalions that can fight insurgents without help has dropped.
"I'm encouraged by the increasing size and capability of the Iraqi security forces. Today they have more than 100 battalions operating throughout the country, and our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are serving with increasing effectiveness," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
One of the few measures the Pentagon has offered the public to judge the capabilities of Iraqi security forces has been the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military.
During congressional testimony on Thursday, Gen. George Casey, top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Gen. John Abizaid, top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said the number of such battalions had dropped since July to one from three, out of the roughly 100 Iraqi battalions.