Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Worst. Congress. Ever.

Matt Taibbi writing in Rolling Stone has a great must-read article titled, "The Worst Congress Ever". Even I, being more or less a political junkie and throughly disgusted with the current Republican Congress, was shocked by some of the stuff that was in there. A small sampling:

Last year, [Republican James] Sensenbrenner became apoplectic when Democrats who wanted to hold a hearing on the Patriot Act invoked a little-known rule that required him to let them have one.

"Naturally, he scheduled it for something like 9 a.m. on a Friday when Congress wasn't in session, hoping that no one would show," recalls a Democratic staffer who attended the hearing. "But we got a pretty good turnout anyway."

Sensenbrenner kept trying to gavel the hearing to a close, but Democrats again pointed to the rules, which said they had a certain amount of time to examine their witnesses. When they refused to stop the proceedings, the chairman did something unprecedented: He simply picked up his gavel and walked out.

"He was like a kid at the playground," the staffer says. And just in case anyone missed the point, Sensenbrenner shut off the lights and cut the microphones on his way out of the room.


[Republican Bill] Thomas is also notorious for excluding Democrats from the conference hearings needed to iron out the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill. According to the rules, conferences have to include at least one public, open meeting. But in the Bush years, Republicans have managed the conference issue with some of the most mind-blowingly juvenile behavior seen in any parliament west of the Russian Duma after happy hour. GOP chairmen routinely call a meeting, bring the press in for a photo op and then promptly shut the proceedings down. "Take a picture, wait five minutes, gavel it out -- all for show" is how one Democratic staffer described the process. Then, amazingly, the Republicans sneak off to hold the real conference, forcing the Democrats to turn amateur detective and go searching the Capitol grounds for the meeting. "More often than not, we're trying to figure out where the conference is," says one House aide.


They don't work many days, don't pass many laws, and the few laws they're forced to pass, they pass late. In fact, in every year that Bush has been president, Congress has failed to pass more than three of the eleven annual appropriations bills on time. ... In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. ... And even those numbers don't come close to telling the full story. Those who actually work on the Hill will tell you that a great many of those "workdays" were shameless mail-ins, half-days at best. Congress has arranged things now so that the typical workweek on the Hill begins late on Tuesday and ends just after noon on Thursday, to give members time to go home for the four-day weekend. This is borne out in the numbers: On nine of its "workdays" this year, the House held not a single vote -- meeting for less than eleven minutes. The Senate managed to top the House's feat, pulling off three workdays this year that lasted less than one minute. All told, a full fifteen percent of the Senate's workdays lasted less than four hours.


From the McCarthy era in the 1950s through the Republican takeover of Congress in 1995, no Democratic committee chairman issued a subpoena without either minority consent or a committee vote. In the Clinton years, Republicans chucked that long-standing arrangement and issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to investigate alleged administration and Democratic misconduct, reviewing more than 2 million pages of government documents.

Guess how many subpoenas have been issued to the White House since George Bush took office? Zero -- that's right, zero, the same as the number of open rules debated this year; two fewer than the number of appropriations bills passed on time.

And it goes on and on. As they say, read the whole thing. And then vote.

I Voted

I took advantage of the early voting we have here, and went ahead and cast my ballot today. There was no line but all of the booths were being used. How's that for efficient allocation of resources?

In addition to the candidates for office (which were easy to decide on -- if they had a D by the name you checked it, if they had an R, you stayed away), there were a number of ballot initiatives and amendments. There were something like 15 of these statewide, and another 4 municipal. Luckily, they send you a "blue book" with a comprehensive explanation and analysis (including bullet points pro and con) for each of the amendments, and I studied it and filled out my "cheat sheet" to bring with me. Even still, it's not easy to make up your mind on all of these. My rule is, when in doubt, vote no. And that included all of the municipal ballot initiatives for which I didn't have a blue book.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pelican Eats Pigeon


Stupid Clemson

Who gave them permission to lose?

Looks like I'll just have to engage in that favorite past time of Clemson fans, which is pinning your hopes on next season.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scientists and Engineers for America

As I mentioned previously, there is a new political organization called Scientists and Engineers for America, which fights against the anti-science lobby. They've been making a splash in the media lately.

Nobel laureate Peter Agre appeared on the Colbert report, which you will watch here.

Susan F. Wood appeared on NPR's Science Friday, which you listen to next here.

As you might imagine, the Colbert segment is the more entertaining, and the NPR segment is by far the more informative.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Where where these Teachers when I was in School?

China seems to have a bit of a problem keeping its teachers under control.

Two girls plied with liquor as punishment

A Chinese teacher forced two schoolgirls to drink a bottle of liquor between them as punishment for neglecting their studies, Chinese media reported on Monday.

Doesn't sound like punishment to me. Brear Rabbit comes to mind. But this was only for neglecting their studies. Apparently the teacher found a hair curler and a letter among their belongings, and this was enough to reward them with booze. If you go so far as to contradict the teacher, however, you get a beating:

A schoolboy who spoke out against the punishment was beaten by the same teacher, it said.

Forcing two young girls to down a bottle of hard liquor and beating a kid who objects is one thing, but this last incident is just a little over the top:

In September, a history teacher in central China beat an 11-year-old student senseless and threw her from a fourth-floor classroom window, killing her in a so-far unexplained frenzy.

It brings a whole new meaning to the term "strict disciplinarian". I'll bet though that none of the students ever crossed that teacher again.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Zaniness From Poland

Thank God for Kent Hovind. Otherwise, the USA might have to relinquish its title as home of the world’s looniest creationist crazybags.

Neanderthal man walks among us, Poland’s far-right says

Poland’s far-right League of Polish Families (LPR), which is part of the coalition government, claims Darwin’s theory of evolution is all wrong, that humans lived alongside dinosaurs and that Neanderthal man is still among us.

Last week, Poland’s deputy education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski, a member of the LPR, bluntly rejected British naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and his postulate that man is descended from apes. […]

This weekend, Orzechowski was given some high-level support when European lawmaker for the far-right party, Maciej Giertych – the father of LPR leader Roman Giertych – told a seminar that Neanderthal man still roams the planet, notably in the United States where examples can be spotted in a boxing ring.

“A scientist showed me a picture of an American boxer. He had all the traits of Neanderthal man. These people are among us. They are part of the human race, probably more prevalent once upon a time, but who still exist,” Giertych, who has a doctorate in biology, told the seminar.

Taking up the mantra of creationists – who have a strong following among Christian fundamentalists in the United States, but whose theory that God created all living creatures at the same time has not won a huge following in Europe – Giertych also propounded that man and dinosaurs roamed the earth together.

“Research shows that dinosaurs and man were contemporaries. In every culture, there are indications that we remember (dinosaurs). The Scots have Loch Ness, we Poles have Wawel dragon (in Krakow), Marco Polo spoke of an imperial carriage in China which was pulled by a dragon,” Giertych said.

I… just don’t know what to say.

(Cross-posted to the Panda's Thumb.)

One thing I don't miss about South Carolina

One thing I don't miss about SC is people throwing puppies on barbecue grills. We don't seem to have that happen very often here in Colorado, so I'll have to give the higher score to my new home on that specific issue.

Deputies have arrested the person they think is responsible for burning a puppy on a grill in Columbia on October 1st. [...]

Adan Gonzalez was arrested Wednesday evening. He lives in the same mobile home park as the dog owner. The sheriff's department says he admitted to throwing the puppy on the grill but doesn't know why he did it. He is charged with a felony count of animal cruelty.

People, if you're goint to throw a puppy on a grill, at least have a reason.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It looks like my Clemson Tigers beat the... Yellow... something of whatever. 31-7. Maybe that'll give Clemson a top 10 ranking, but every top-ten team that had a game today won, so we'll have to see. Clemson would be in charge of the ACC Atlantic division, but for Boston College who beat Florida State today. BC needs to drop a game, and hopefully either Miami or Wake will do it to them. If that happens and Clemson doesn't lose to Virginia Tech, we should be in the ACC campionship game.

Friday, October 20, 2006

We Won the War but Lost the Peace...

Matthew Yglesias dispells this oft repeated phrase in a brilliant short post.

It starts out with Clausewitz's classic book On War home of the famous aphorism that "war is the continuation of politics by other means." There's actually a very good reason why Clausewitz is so famous and why this line, in particular, is famous. "Politics" in contemporary usage tends to denote "partisan politics" or "electoral politics" so perhaps it's better to think in terms of the word "policy." The point here is that going to war, prosecuting a war, continuing a war, ending a war, etc., are all policy decisions. They are policy decisions undertaken to achieve policy goals. The goal of the VC/NVA military campaign was to persuade the United States of America to stop backing the Republic of Vietnam regime in order to precipitate the collapse of the ROV government and unite the Vietnamese nation under the leadership of the Communist government in Hanoi.

The Tet Offensive did not, on its own, accomplish any of those things. It did, however, achieve major strides in that direction. It was, therefore, a success. It wasn't a "military" failure but a "political" success, it was just a success. There are no military failures that succeed politically, nor military successes that fail politically. All military operations are policy initiatives, and the only criterion for success or failure is success or failure in achieving policy objectives. [...]

You see this not only in the conduct and discourse of war supporters, but in some characteristic modes of criticism. The oft-repeated phrase that Bush had a "plan to win the war" but lacked "a plan to win the peace" is a manifestation of the same problem. Wars are undertaken to achieve policy goals. The policy outcome of a war is determined by the state of the peace -- the end of the war. If you don't have a plan to achieve your objectives, you don't have a plan to win the war at all. When you invade Afghanistan and manage not to achieve most of your key objectives -- the capture or killing of the al-Qaeda/Taliban leadership and bringing the entirety of Afghan territory under the control of anti-al-Qaeda forces -- you didn't "win the war" but then screw some stuff up. You lost the war. If your goals in Iraq were to (a) eliminate Saddam's nuclear program, and (b) construct a stable, pro-American regime in Iraq, and it turns out that Saddam had no nuclear program and you can't construct a stable, pro-American regime in Iraq, you've lost the war.

Friday Animal Blogging

New pet edition.

I decided that I needed a pet, and since I can't get a cat or a dog, and iguanas are out of fashion, I went with parakeets:

One green and one blue. Here they are at their food dish, their favorite place:

And here are some close-ups. The green one comes in more clearly because he knows how to hold still (though he's a biter), while the blue one ducks and dodges all over the place.

I don't have names for them yet. For now I just refer to them as Green and Blue, but of course that's going to have to change.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

This is a bit stale by now, but Laurin Manning referred to this article about SC Governor Mark Sanford's appearance before the NAACP. When addressing a question about what to do about the pay gap between blacks and whites, Sanford's advice was that black folk should make better use of their rich friends and family:

When members of the NAACP asked Gov. Mark Sanford how the state should handle pay disparity problems between black and white workers, he talked about getting ahead the old-fashioned way.

"If you want to have greater opportunities, it's got to begin somewhere. And generally it begins with somebody knowing someone else," Sanford said Thursday night, eliciting grumbles in the crowd of about 70.

During a discussion at the civil rights group's convention, Sanford was asked what he'd do in a second term to address pay gaps. The meeting was held in Augusta because the South Carolina NAACP is boycotting the state until the Confederate flag is removed from a pole on the Statehouse grounds.

"Let me answer it this way," Sanford said. "I've got this brother who got his first job in New York because my dad knew the guy that he ultimately went to work for."

It wasn't anything sinister or evil, Sanford said. But because of that opportunity, his brother "worked for the company that traded penny stocks and ultimately that led to another opportunity down the road" and buying a company. "Then he spent seven years trying to basically pay off some debt on that company," Sanford said.

"He's a success in life because of personal relationships," Sanford said.

If only all black people would use Sanford's daddy's connection, they'd have no problem getting good paying jobs. And if that didn't work out, they could always off-load their Florida real estate, or own the Texas Rangers and run an oil company for awhile. If you just know the right people or have the right parents, you can do these things without any experience or even basic competence.

I wish Gervais were still blogging, he'd have a field day with this. What can you say about a self-described libertarian governor who thinks that the solution to the inequities of the marketplace is more cronyism and nepotism? The phrase "out-of-touch" doesn't begin to describe it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Via Tim Lambert, I came across this page featuring the 10 dumbest Congressmen in America, with of course some amusing exposition for each. Tim focuses on global warming denialist and all around goof-ball James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who clearly deserves his #3 spot. Before reading this, I would have ranked Inhofe even higher, but after seeing the number 1 and 2 spots, I'm not so sure.

Katherine Harris (R-Florida) has earned top billing. Enough said on that. If you haven't been laughing at Harris' many comical screw-ups, then you don't pay much attention to politics. But the #2 spot, Donald Young (R-Alaska), has got to be my favorite. I can't believe I had never heard this before:

The scene: Fairbanks, Alaska, 1994. Congressman Don Young, already in office for 20 years, is on the stump preaching the virtues of Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution to a group of high school students. Just look at all the wasteful things the federal government does with taxpayers' money, he tells them. The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, funds art involving "people doing offensive things ... things that are absolutely ridiculous." One student asks, "Like what?"

"Buttfucking," replies the great scourge of obscenity and instructor of youth.

Young's performance remains a classic in the annals of congressional idiocy, offering that rare, supremely unselfconscious moment in which one of our nation's legislative solons lets his addled mind graze freely.

That is just funny, funny, funny. Oh, and sad. Yes, very sad (tee hee hee).

Irony Is Still Dead

So I was reading the print edition of the Rocky Mountain News during lunch, and there is this interesting story.

I live in Colorado's 7th Congressional district. It was just vacated by Bob Beauprez (R) who is now running for governor, so it's an open seat. And it's one of the few truly up-for-grabs races in the nation. Democratic candidate Ed Perlmutter currently has a very slight lead over Republican Rick O'Donnell, but of course that could change. And I'm glad I'll be voting in a race whose outcome isn't already predetermined.

But anyway, there's this 527 group running an attack ad against Perlmutter. In the ad, they accuse Perlmutter of having pushed for legislation defining services for illegal immigrants when he was a state Senator. There's only one slight problem. The legislation was for legal immigrants, not illegals.

Okay, so the ad was dishonest. It's hardly the only one out there. But here's the catch: The 527 who paid for the ad is called Americans for Honesty on Issues. Yes, that's really their name. And who could possibly create such an Orwellian group? Why none other than Bob J. Perry, the guy who bankrolled the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, the group which made all those scurrilous accusations against John Kerry which turned out to be false.

You just can't make this stuff up. I mean, if I sat down and tried to come up with the most amusingly ironic and disingenuous name for a group that produces blatanly false attack ads, I could do no better than Americans for Honesty on Issues.


It's currently snowing outside. Hard. It's not cold enough for it to stick, so most of it's melting as it hits the ground. There's only a light dusting for now. But still... It's mid October.

When I lived in the South Carolina upstate, we probably got snow on average about once a year. Some years we didn't get any, and others we might get it twice. That made it mostly an occasion to get out of school and have some fun, since the whole area would shut down at the slightest hint of snow. But it would never happen before January.

When I lived in Charleston, it simply didn't snow at all. In the nearly 12 years I was there, I can recall it snowing exactly once. It produced a light dusting where you could still see the green of the grass blades poking through, and it was gone by the next day. And it still made everyone freak out.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Salon Interview with Richard Dawkins

Salon has an interesting interview with Richard Dawkins here:

The flying spaghetti monster

It's mostly about Dawkins' views on religion (he's against it) and only touches on evolution insofar as it's relevant to the first question. I haven't entirely wrapped my head around whether Dawkins is fundamentally right or fundamentally wrong in his treatment of religion, but I tend towards the Dawkinsian view that the question itself may be meaningless.

But I do have one major quibble, and strangely enough it doesn't come from Dawkins at all, but instead comes from the interviewer in his introduction:

[Dawkins] first made his name 30 years ago with his groundbreaking book "The Selfish Gene," which reshaped the field of evolutionary biology by arguing that evolution played out at the level of the gene itself, not the individual animal.

That's just plain wrong. Dawkins didn't come up with this view, he simply popularized it. Here's what he says 1989 preface to the book:

The gene's-eye view of Darwinism is implicit in the writings of of R.A. Fisher and the other great pioneers of neo-Darwinism in the early thrities, but was made explicit by W.D. Hamilton and G.C. Williams in the sixties. For me their insight had a visionary quality. But I found their expressions of it too laconic, not full-throated ehough. I was conviced that an amplified and developed version could make everything about life fall into place, in the heart as well as in the brain. I would write a book extolling the gene's-eye view of evolution.

And while I can't find it in my edition, I have read before where he wrote in the book (or at least about the book) that while the view he expresses may be unfamiliar, even shocking to lay audiences, it's the sort of thing that evolutionary biologists had long since accepted.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I'm starting to wonder, are there any Republican Congressmen who don't try to molest pages?

Sources: Inquiry opened over Kolbe, male ex-pages

The U.S. attorney in Arizona has begun a preliminary inquiry into a 1996 camping trip that included Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, and two male former congressional pages, according to two federal law enforcement officials who are familiar with the issue.

The officials said the initial assessment stems from a single allegation regarding Kolbe's behavior on the trip.

It looks like William Kerr has his work cut out for him -- that's two more pages he'll have to expose and slander.

Friday, October 13, 2006

World's Smallest Genome

It clocks in at just under 160 kilobases. To put that into perspective, the human genome is over 3 gigabases.

And it has all of 182 genes.

How small can a genome get and still run a living organism? Researchers now say that a symbiotic bacterium called Carsonella ruddii, which lives off sap-feeding insects, has taken the record for smallest genome with just 159,662 'letters' (or base pairs) of DNA and 182 protein-coding genes. At one-third the size of previously found 'minimal' organisms, it is smaller than researchers thought they would find. [...]

This is encouraging news for synthetic biologists who are hoping to make designer bacteria from scratch, which could perform useful functions such as synthesizing pharmaceuticals or fuels.

Sounds like fun. And this discovery gives us some insights into the evolution of larger, eukaryotic cells as well:

C. ruddii seems even more extreme. "Its gene inventory seems insufficient for most biological processes that appear to be essential for bacterial life," write Atsushi Nakabachi at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Masahira Hattori at the University of Tokyo, Japan, and their colleagues. At the moment, the researchers are not sure how C. ruddii copes, although they speculate that some of the necessary genes may have been transferred over evolutionary time to the genomes of the host.

That is precisely what is thought to have happened during the evolution of the compartments called mitochondria in our own cells, which are responsible for energy production. These are believed to have once been symbionts that lost all autonomy by relinquishing most of their genes to the host (mitochondria still have their own DNA).

Andersson says that C. ruddii might be analogues of mitochondria, caught in the process of changing from separate but dependent organisms into structures that will be engulfed and incorporated into the host cells.

In spite of the fact that creationists like to bring up the hypothesized endosymbiosis of mitochondria or chloroplasts as a problem for evolution, the fact is that we find intermediates between fully autonomous prokaryotes and full endosymbionts all over nature.
(My favorite example is Wolbachia.) It appears that they go through an intracellular parasitic stage and, like with many parasitic relationships, both the parasite and the host evolve to cope with each other. In the case of endosymbionts, they become increasingly more cooperative until they become inseparable.

(Cross-posted to the Panda's Thumb.)

Friday Animal Blogging Embargoed Again

I found a trial version of Photoshop that I downloaded and installed this morning, but by the time I did all that I had to leave for work. Next week, I swear!

It's Worse Than You Think

Well, I recently posted about the Bush Administration allowed James Dobson and company to screw around with international aid funds. Now there's a new book out by the number two guy at the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives that shows the whole thing to be a rotten mess of cronyism and political gamesmanship. Here's the low-down:

The office’s primary mission, providing financial support to charities that serve the poor, never got the presidential support it needed to succeed, according to the book.

Entitled "Tempting Faith," the book is not scheduled for release until Oct. 16, but MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" has obtained a copy. [...]

He says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as "the nuts."

"National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Kuo writes.

So far, I'm with Rove. Except I wouldn't have said those things behind their backs.

More seriously, Kuo alleges that then-White House political affairs director Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a scheme to use the office, and taxpayer funds, to mount ostensibly "nonpartisan" events that were, in reality, designed with the intent of mobilizing religious voters in 20 targeted races.

Nineteen out of the 20 targeted races were won by Republicans, Kuo reports. The outreach was so extensive and so powerful in motivating not just conservative evangelicals, but also traditionally Democratic minorities, that Kuo attributes Bush’s 2004 Ohio victory “at least partially … to the conferences we had launched two years before."

Absolutely shameless.

The money that was appropriated and disbursed, however, often served a political agenda, Kuo claims, with organizations friendly to the administration often winning grants.

More pointedly, Kuo quotes an unnamed member of the review panel charged with rating grant applications as saying she stopped looking at applications from "those non-Christian groups," as did many of her colleagues.


If that's not enough, it's worth checking out the Keith Olberman videos here and here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

James Dobson: Pure Evil

The Boston Globe has a four-part series on the influence that Religious Right groups are remaking America's international aid programs to their liking and everyone else's detriment. Here is the second of the series:

Religious right wields clout

The article contains a lot of worrisome info about how the Bush administration has turned much of our international aid money into slush funds for Religious Right groups, stripping funding away from established secular groups with a proven track record and giving it to religious groups with no experience and an overt religious and ideological mission. And the ring-leader of it all? James Dobson.

As if I needed any more reasons to despise that man, the article shows Dobson at his worst. He's quite consistent in his stategy of smearing anyone who gets in his way, and the article is full of such examples. Below I'll share a few:

The dispute erupted in public after a remark in 2002 by then-secretary of state Colin Powell, who had visited Africa and been appalled at the AIDS rate. In a television interview, Powell said that while he respected churches that are opposed to condoms, "In my own judgment, condoms are a way to prevent infection and, therefore, I support their use."

Dobson blasted back, declaring "Colin Powell is the secretary of state, not the secretary of health. He is talking about a subject he doesn't understand."

But James Dobson, who has no medical degree and hates science, should be taken as an authority on health care issues?
The administration had hoped to avoid fights with religious conservatives by putting people in charge of USAID with strong faith-based ties: administrator Andrew Natsios and global health director Dr. Anne Peterson .

Natsios is a former Massachusetts legislator who once supervised the Big Dig and has served as vice president of World Vision, the largest evangelical recipient of USAID grants. Peterson, a physician, is an evangelical Christian and former Virginia state health commissioner who has also worked with Christian groups in Africa.

Peterson said in an interview that she assumed she would be embraced by religious conservatives.

She was wrong: Dobson's group singled her out for a series of attacks, since her global health division oversaw AIDS policy. [...]

Within months, Peterson had resigned for personal reasons, deeply bruised by the attacks.

"I had not expected to have that from the Christian community," she said. "I had expected to find more resonance with a broader group of people to find a common ground.

Now why would she even think that these people would treat her with civility? That would require decency, empathy, common sense and good morals on their part. Surely she didn't think they met that standard?

They complained in the letter to Natsios that government funding for faith-based groups was being "delivered by anti-American, anti-abstinence, pro-prostitution, and pro-drug use groups."
Oh, and let's not forget honesty. Part of being civil is being honest about the people with whom you disagree. If you're a lying scumbag however, you call them things like anti-American and pro-drug use, even when you know for a fact that they're not.

In its printed materials for the briefing, Focus on the Family targeted a USAID official who it claimed was gay and committed to a pro-homosexual agenda. Natsios, who left his post as USAID administrator earlier this year, said of the attack: "It was over the top, it was outrageous."

Dobson declined to comment. The briefing was overseen by the group's chief public policy officer, Peter Brandt . In an interview, Brandt acknowledged that "that individual should not have been targeted." But he stood by the attacks on USAID and what he called the "condom cartel."

Whoops, I guess Natsios was just collateral damage. They were trying to ruin someone else's career, and he just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyway, the entire article is worth the read. The nasty tactics of Dobson are only part of it; the cynical way in which international aid funds are being misused is the meat and potatoes.

And if that's not enough to piss you off, here is the rest of the series:

Bush brings faith to foreign aid (part 1)

Together, but worlds apart (part 3)

Healing the body to reach the soul (part 4)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sick and Twisted, Part 33 1/3

I'm not sure why I keep checking the blog of that dirtbag who outed one of Rep Mark Foley's victims, but it sure is good for some amusement. (See here and here for the background.) The latest consists of more whining; this time because right-winger Michelle Malkin has denounced the outing. Now when I hear Malkin's name, the phrase "highly ethical" isn't exactly what comes to mind -- her latest book was an apologia for WWII internment camps for crissakes -- but even she can see what's wrong with the "conservative outing mob" as she calls it. Because of her reaction, dickhead whines that he has been "thrown under the bus". Actually I think Malkin was pretty tepid. I guess wingnuts just aren't accustomed to anyone on their side of the fence ever disagreeing with them.

But the best part is how dickhead excuses the fact that the kid he outed was 17 at the time the IMs from Foley started. Mind you, this rather important fact makes his whole "gotcha" story totally irrelevant, and it's one that up to this point he's never even acknowledged. Let's see what happens when he finally does:

Third, When he was 17 and 18 years old, Michelle can you prove when the IMs were made and can you prove that they have not been altered by anyone before they were published by ABC NEWS? No you can not. If you will look at the IMs you will notice that the time stamps are not in sequential order and ABC NEWS does not even provide a date stating when the emails were made.
From this we learn two things. First of all, William Kerr has the writing skills of the average fourth grader. And secondly, he has the reasoning skills of the average first grader. Can anyone prove that the IMs weren't altered by ABC News? Of course they can't. It's also impossible for anyone to prove that the entire correspondence wasn't invented out of thin air by God. And no one can prove that Mark Foley -- heck, the whole Congress -- isn't just some figment of our collective hysteria, or that the Detroit Tigers haven't been replaced by super powerful robots.

What we can say is that anyone who believes these things without very strong evidence is a flagrant moron. The burden of proof isn't on anyone to show that ABC News didn't alter the IMs. The burden is on dickhead to show that they did. And of course he has no evidence, he's just grasping at straws. Until he comes up with something more substantial than simply figuring out the kid's name, here's the evidence we have: The kid explicitly said he was under 18 in at least one of the messages, and the time stamps show that they were from before his 18th birthday. Therefore, any non-retarded person should provisionally accept the fact that he was under 18 at the time.

It gets stupider:
Fourth, "obliterate the young man's privacy" he is 21 now! He is a public figure if it is found that the young man as you like to call him was 18 during all of the IMs or has made the whole thing up will you defend Mark Foley's right to privacy?
Apparently, not only does William Kerr not know how to construct a proper sentence, he also doesn't know what "public figure" means. It doesn't mean "anyone over 18". This is an important distinction in slander or defamation lawsuits (which Kerr may find himself on the business end of), as public figures, unlike normal citizens, are considered to be fair game for the press. So who is a public figure? Anyone who has chosen to thrust himself or herself into the public spotlight. That would include celebrities, activists, and most importantly, politicians. It doesn't include a page who was solicited for sex by a dirty old man and has since remained quiet and tried to get on with his life.

And then we have the absurd insinuation that he "made the whole thing up". Yeah, him and the half dozen other pages. Who else was in on it? It had to have been Mark Foley, who resigned in disgrace and admitted having sent these messages. And of course it would include the several lawmakers who have admitted to knowing about Foley's problem for years. Kerr's evidence that the kid made the whole thing up consists of the fact that he... was able to figure out the kid's name!

It keeps getting worse:
Fifth, "The young man was the prey, not the predator." Can you prove that Michelle? No you cannot.
More of the same. I mean, can anyone really prove that the people Ted Bundy killed weren't the real criminals? Ignoring Bundy's testimony and all other available evidence, why should we assume that the serial murderer is the predator, and his victims the prey? Isn't it sometimes the other way around?

My advice to Kerr: Please, please, please don't ever become a prosecutor. You'd endanger us all. Stick with flipping burgers, it's more your intellectual style anyway.

But in spite of the sheer numbskullery of his post, William Kerr does manage to get one thing right:
I believe you Michelle are acting more like a liberal than me...
An unintentional compliment, of course.

Baby Used as Weapon

This may qualify as a war crime:

A woman used her 4-week-old baby as a weapon in a domestic dispute, swinging the infant through the air and striking her boyfriend with the child, authorities said. The baby was critically injured in the attack early Sunday, said District Attorney Bradley Foulk.

There's only one sensible course of action to take: Ban it.


Coming on the heels of the newly formed Scientists and Engineers for America, those of us in Colorado have a new organization to help fight the good fight, Colorado Evolution Response Team, or CERT. Friday’s online edition of the Denver Post has an article about the organization:

Finally, scientists are fighting mad.

In a state where public educators are afraid to put the word “evolution” in science aptitude tests and where the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor thinks biblical creationism counts as science, the Colorado Evolution Response Team has its work cut out.

CERT, as the new group refers to itself, seems ready for the fight.

“There is a cultural attack against science,” said David Pollock, a genetic researcher at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “The president taking intelligent-design propaganda as gospel is not good.”

Neither is having a lieutenant governor who wants creationism taught in schools. […]

They won’t have to look far. Last summer, a member of the Colorado Board of Education called evolution “one of those loaded phrases.” So Colorado doesn’t print the word in statewide science aptitude tests. Instead, kids see the less controversial term “adaptation.”

“They’re trying to avoid controversy,” not teach science, said James DeGregori, a CU cancer biologist. “That’s exactly what this organization (CERT) should respond to.”

Scientists “profess evolution as the foundation of the biosciences,” said Kieft, a Christian who squares his scholarship with his faith. “If you test students on biology, you have to deal with it.”

By not doing so, added Pollock, you are “erasing a portion of human knowledge that is critical. You’re crippling people.”

You also force the creation of groups like CERT, which is independent of, but akin to, another new organization, Scientists and Engineers for America. SEA is a national group dealing with national issues. Pollock belongs to both. They are part of a movement by scientists to reclaim their disciplines from religion and politics. CERT was the brainchild of DeGregori, honed with Pollock and Kieft. […]

“They’re taking religious beliefs and pretending they can make them science,” School of Mines physicist Matt Young said of folks who think creationism constitutes science. “I hope that CERT will be able to support teachers and parents in situations where science is being distorted.”

If you are from Colorado, especially if you are in the sciences, please consider joining CERT. The website still needs some tweaking, so you might want to bookmark it and then check back later once more formal means of joining or donating are available.

Full disclosure: One of the scientists quoted in the Post article, David Pollock, is my PI. Two of the others, DiGregory and Kieft, are both faculty in my department. (Don’t I work in a cool place?) And the fourth, Matt Young, is just some old nobody who I’ve never heard of, but strangely enough, he’s listed as a PT contributor.

(Cross-posted to the Panda's Thumb.)

Friday, October 06, 2006

How to Waste Four Million Bucks

The Discovery Institute seems to be getting overly defensive about accusations that they haven't produced any research. First there was Bruce Chapman's totally unbelievable claim that the research is all being conducted in secret for fear of persecution. Now they've got a press release out in which they brag about having spent 4 million dollars on "scientific and scholarly research". The artful wording they use allows them to include just about everything they've ever spent money on, most of which would qualify as propaganda. There are, unsurprisingly, no research projects mentioned. Ed Brayton does the take-down on this latest bit of nonsense, and he pretty much covers all the bases.

There is, however, one thing I should have mentioned in my last post that I'll mention here. It's not even all that important for the DI or for any group of ID supporters to actually get their hands wet performing bench research. What really matters in this game is that you've got ideas for research, that your so-called theory serves as a conduit for building a research program and leading to new knowledge. Scientists have to look at your claims and be able to think of ways to test them using novel experiments, and then hopefully use their preliminary results to guide further research. That's the first necessary step to fomenting a scientific revolution. It takes a lot more than that of course, but this is the bare minimum requirement for even doing science.

The most telling thing, therefore, isn't that the DI has failed to set-up labs or churn out papers (assuming we're not dumb enough to believe that it's all being done in secret and will come pouring forth any day now). The most telling thing is that they can't even tell us what an ID research program is supposed to look like. It is not the least bit clear what kind of research one would even do under an "intelligent design" paradigm. Heck, if they would just tell me, I'd do the experiments for them. What they really need are research proposals, the kinds of things expected of grad students before they start their dissertation work. This makes things even easier on the Discovery Institute, because proposals don't cost any money beyond paying someone's salary. And there's also no need to worry about "persecution", as if that were a rational concern to begin with.

But we're not seeing proposals either. The Templeton Foundation, a group that funds research directed at the intersection of science and religion, and which might be expected to have some degree of sympathy towards ID, has in the past solicited research proposals from the ID movement. This would have been a golden opportunity for the IDists -- lots of money, a prestigious funding organization, and no need for wild-eyed fears of some "dogmatic darwinist" yanking the funds out from under them. But they didn't bite:

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

"From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.

Part of the problem is that every supposed idea for ID research I've ever seen consists of testing (usually badly) some aspect of evolution. But researchers don't need ID advocates coming up with ways to test evolution; they already do this all the time with no input from the ID movement. And if for some reason these tests started to show that evolution was looking unlikely, then it still wouldn't support ID. To the best of my knowledge, the ID movement has never come up with an idea to test ID independently, which is a necessary prerequisite for making it a legitimate alternative to evolution. And as irritating as it is, most ID advocates don't even seem to think it matters. They pretend as if attacking evolution itself somehow constitutes evidence for ID, even going to far as to create labels for anti-evolution arguments (e.g. irreducible complexity, specified complexity) which are then held up as "positive evidence" for ID. But this doesn't fool anyone. The notion that criticisms of evolution automatically count as evidence for ID-creationism is what the courts have called contrived dualism, and it has been dismissed as having no "scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose".

Even still, there are IDists who have tried to come up with ideas for positive research. Some of them are probably sincere in wanting to create a research program, while others are perhaps just interested in putting on a show to make ID look scientific. But either way, these attempts haven't had success either. One such repository for these great research ideas was supposed to be Brainstorms, an online forum with open participation. Feel free to check it out and see how many ideas for ID research you can find. Since its inception in 2002, the forum has badly withered; it now has few participants and has become a playground for cranks like John A. Davison and others who post on things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which is bottom-of-the-barrel, old-school creationist stuff. Another repository for research was supposed to be the ID movement's in-house journal Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID). Originally conceived as a quarterly publication, the editors were not receiving enough submissions to fill out full issues. Then it became something closer to a yearly journal. The last issue was Nov. 2005, and it contains all of five articles. Feel free to peruse the back issues and see for yourself if what they're publishing is actual ID research, or just various attacks on evolution.

It's not just that the ID movement as a whole is uninterested in scientific research or has chosen to prioritize its socio-political mission. These things are true, but the more fundamental problem is that ID, as currently conceived, is just not possible to test. The basic "theory" of ID comes down to this: "Some unknown 'intelligence' (we'll leave it to you to figure out what that is) at some undetermined point in the past, using unknown but presumably supernatural methods, designed some (but not necessarily all) aspects of living things and/or the universe as a whole". Not only is that untestable, it lacks simple coherence. There are so many basic details missing that there's no way even to make sense of it. The ID movement is thus left with the vague claim that they are "detecting design" without specifying what, when, how, or by whom the designing took place. And it's not that they just haven't yet answered these burning questions, the trend in ID thinking is to move away from addressing them. Even the most basic issues like the age of the Earth have been avoided for fear of upsetting their big tent.

So the problem here goes well beyond the fact that the Discovery Institute's 4 million bucks was spent on things other than scientific research, or Bruce Chapman's laughable claim to be conducting the research in a secret hidden fortress away from the prying eyes of scientists. They are suffering from a conceptual problem. Even without conducting research of their own, it would seem that by now ID should have been well-developed enough so that other interested parties could find plenty of research to pursue. If you come up with something worthwhile, there will be people who will go after it. But that's not happening. And no, it's not because there's this huge conspiracy squashing anyone who tries to do it, it's because there's nothing there. The IDists have had many chances to show us what they can come up with, and they have failed. They need to go back to the drawing board and rework their whole "theory" from the ground up. If they can't or won't do this, then perhaps it's because they're too invested in their current viewpoint, or too consumed with their cultural renewal project. And if that's the case, then they deserve whatever scorn they get.

No Friday Animal Blogging....

Sorry, but I recently wiped my hard drive clean, and I lost my copy of Photoshop. So I can't post pictures unless they're 5 Mb and huge, and that's just not a good idea. I've got some software that came with my camera that might do the trick, but I never liked it, and I'm not sure I want to bother installing it.

Anyway, I should be back in action next week.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sick and Twisted, Part Deux

It would appear that the lowlife who made it his mission to out one of Rep. Mark Foley's victims is now crying about someone doing to him what he did to that kid:

I turned the comment off because someone is trying to bring one of my children into this. My son is a MINOR unlike [name removed -- SR]. I have been on several radio shows this morning, including Glenn Beck. If you would like to help me you can please click the Make a Donation button on the right side bar. The hate mail has been pouring in and a lot of threats have been made. I can take the heat, but my family is very nervous.

Gee asshole, did it occur to you that the person you outed for no good reason is suffering as well? I don't condone making threats or whatnot, but it just amazes me that this guy is so morally retarded that not only does he not realize that what he did was wrong, he doesn't even see the connection between what some jerk is doing to him and what he's doing to an innocent victim.

And if you really want to see some people who live in a total fantasy world, try checking out the trackbacks to his outing post. (I can't link to the trackbacks page directly and I'm not linking to the outing post, so if you're a glutton for punishment, go there and find them yourself.) I swear, I'm not making this stuff up:

Foley Setup? - Part V - Uncovering the Conspiracy

****THIS IS A MAJOR STORY NOW, BUT NOT FOR THE REASONS SOME DESIGNED IT *****Did ABC NEWS'’s Brian Ross commit a fraud? Who else is involved? *******Scroll to the bottom for updates as they happen****************

I don'’t think I'’ve ever seen a political conspiracy unravel as fast as this one that involves former representative Mark Foley.

Yes, you see there's a conspiracy out to get Foley. The Democrats turned him into a predator of boys in order to embarrass the Republicans, then set-up a number of Republican pages to get IMs and emails from Foley, and then forced Denny Hastert and a number of other prominent Republicans to ignore the warning signs for years. Then they got Republicans who were upset about the issue to go to ABC News with the story. Isn't it just obvious that the Dems are behind it all? It's unraveled so quickly!

Did ABC's Brian Ross Lie to Hype Foley Story?

From ABC News [emphasis added]:ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.

This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp. But blogger William Kerr of Passionate America says that he has identified the former page, that he is 21 now, and that he was 18 at the time the instant messages were exchanged.

Kerr says that he discovered a copy of the instant messages on ABC's website that did not have the former page's screen name redacted. Using the screen name, Kerr and fellow blogger Ms. Underestimated say they were able to identify Foley's correspondent as 21 year old [name removed -- SR], who was apparently 18 at the time of the instant message session with Foley.

You see, the real scandal here is that one of the several pages that Foley wanted to disrobe was 18 during some of the naughty emails, even though he was 17 when the hunt began. And other pages were as young as 16. But this one guy was 18 part of the time! Since ABC News didn't share this utterly irrelevant information with you, they are worse than Foley! Damn you liberal media, damn you to hell!

As sick as Foley's behavior is, the Democrats' posturing is nearly as twisted. It's pretty coincidental timing that they've now pulled this out to make a big political splash before next month's elections. Two newspapers had information on Foley's emails but sat on the story since 2005. And the Dems apparently knew, as well. Dick Morris has already said, "one very prominent member of the Democratic leadership knew about this for months." (video here)

Obstruction of justice, anyone?

Clinton called it "a conservative hit job" when Chris Wallace simply asked him a difficult question. But this, I think, could more correctly be termed a "liberal hit job." A scandal which was sat upon until it was politically expedient to reveal.

Yes, why did the Democrats pull this out now? If we didn't know better, we'd think that ABC News and their Republican sources were the ones who broke the story, but there's no way that's possible -- it must have been Democrats!

And because rabid anti-Clintonite Dick Morris claims that one (1) Democrat knew about this for months, this excuses the numerous Republicans who knew about it for years. After all, it's the Dems job to police the Republicans' internal matters, plus since the Dems control Congress, they should have opened an investigation. That's the way things are, right?

BLOGGERS RULE! Passionate America & Ms. Underestimated Unravel Foley Gate

This whole scandal blew up so fast and furious with so few facts and so much fanfare from the MSM most sensible people smelled a 'Rat.

So what happens if the gross Instant Messages were from/to an 18 year old who is now a 21 year old Democrat/ic working on a Democrat/ic campaign?

Yes, what would happen? That's an interesting question. Pretty nonsensical because the kid was 17 when the IMs started and is a Republican currently working on a Republican campaign, but it's an interesting thing to ponder nonetheless. Sensible people, you see, smell a rat.

[sarcasm mode off]

It's not like I needed any more evidence that the far-right side of the blogosphere is a cesspit of ugliness and stupidity, but this is almost too much. I mean, this guy outs an innocent victim and he and his fanbois are treating it like he did something important, that broadcasting the name of this kid is somehow relevatory and blows things "wide open". Look you cretinous morons, publicizing the kid's name does nothing but open him up to embarrassment and physical threats from idiots like yourselves. How imbecilic do you have to be to think that just knowing his name is somehow indicative of a vast Democratic conspiracy? Never mind the stupidity of believing in the conspiracy in the first place, how brain-dead are you to think that merely outing the kid exposes the conspiracy?

If anything is worse than just how plain dumb these people are, it's their bloated sense of self-importance and insularity. That's the only way people who have the ability to type complete sentences (well, mostly) can end up believing things that are so utterly foolish and completely contrary to reality. Think of yourself as the next Bob Woodward, ignore the "MSM" because they're a big lie factory, and get all your information from your fellow wingnuts. Then you too can be the star of your own delusion.

Update: I just can't resist posting one more, this time from Free Republic:

William Kerr knew he was on to the biggest story of his life. But he didn’t know it was in his own back yard.

Kerr, of Moore, is the author of the blog Passionate America, which is being credited with discovering the identity of the former House page who may have exchanged inappropriate instant messages with former Rep. Mark Foley, and that the former page now works for Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Ernest Istook.

Kerr said he received e-mails and phone calls from national media outlets Wednesday, including the tabloid television program Inside Edition and Internet pundit Matt Drudge.

“I started thinking, ‘I’m not big enough to put this story out,’” Kerr said. “In the four days that we really worked on this, we just said to each other, ‘Do you know how big this is?’”

Dude, if this is the biggest story of your life, then you don't have a life.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Irony is Dead, Buried, and has had its Grave Pissed Upon.

So some lady wanted to ban Harry Potter. Who could blame her? If I believed that a fictitious fantasy (i.e. what fundamentalist Christians believe) were actually true, I'd probably feel threatened by another, more compelling and better written fictitious fantasy.

But now a brave soul has upped the ante. He wants to ban Fahrenheit 451:

Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language. "The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all." Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451," written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum. "It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451."

It's been a long time since I read Fahrenheit 451, but I really don't recall a single "bad" word in the whole book. I'd ask Mr. Verm to point them out for me, but given that he hasn't even read the book, which is typical of these censorious asshats, he's not going to know either.

Here's what I do remember: Fahrenheit 451 was a pointed and passionate critique against censorship. The name of the book after all refers to the temperature at which paper catches fire, and was about a futuristic dystopia in which fire departments were charged with intentionally setting fires for the purpose of burning books.

As if my irony meter hadn't been abused enough already, we've just celebrated the American Library Association's banned books week. Nice timing, shithead.

Sick and Twisted

No, I'm not talking about the behavior of Rep. Mark Foley (although that was sick and twisted). I'm talking about this asshole who wants to out Foley's victims:

I have what I believe is the identity of the person that Rep. Mark Foley instant messaged.

I will be working on the story today and will present my findings tomorrow. I will put out a press release later today outlining what I will reveal on Wednesday October 4th at 4pm Central Time. I have contacted several bloggers to check my finding and verify that they are indeed accurate. I have also sent emails to major media and two United States Representatives. This will be a major news story and there is the possibility that this story will not be well received by the major news media. More updates throughout the day.
I don't think I need to explain what's wrong with this scenario. What's really disturbing is to read the comments. While a large fraction of the commenters rightly denounce this behavior, a good number of them try to justify it by assuming that the kid was part of some massive Democratic conspiracy that we need to get to the bottom of. What loons.

Update: Yep, dickhead outted the poor kid. I'm not linking to that post, you can go there yourself and look for it if you really care. I started reading the 100+ comments and got bored about a quarter of the way through after every single one of them said things like, "you're a scumbag", "piece of shit", "hope you get arrested", "anything happens to this kid and it's on your head", etc. I can only assume that this jackass didn't do this move to please his readers. In fact, he seems all giddy at the prospect of getting himself on TV, where hopefully the interviewer will rip him a new asshole as well. How pathetic is this guy?

Bruce Chapman: Fool

I guess I'll join Jason and Ed in piling on to the Discovery Institute's latest ridiculous claim via Bruce Chapman. There is a rather interesting fact about the ID movement, which is that after more than a decade of lobbying Congress, testifying in front of school boards, writing polemical books, hiring PR firms, and publishing legal missives, they have utterly failed to create a scientific research program, much less produce any meaningful results. In other words, they haven't done any science, yet they insist that ID is a revolutionary new scientific theory that is on the cusp of displacing the theory of evolution. (Which, by the way, has new and exciting research published on a daily basis.)

How do the IDists account for this situation? Here's Chapman's excuse: The ID research is being carried out in secret for fear of persecution! Yeah, you read that right. The mere fact that they can't show you any research is evidence of the horrible tyranny they're living under. This is absurd to the point of making 9/11 conspiracy theories look respectable by comparison.

Jason and Ed do the heavy lifting, so you can read their posts for a thorough eviceration, but I thought I'd highlight this silly claim by Chapman:

As for foes and critics who pester us for information about research now underway and who insinuate that, unless we oblige them, we must accept their opinion that such research is not happening, we owe them nothing. Since when does a scientist have to “report” on his work to the public before he is ready? The opposite is almost always the case.

Statements like these just go to show how utterly clueless Chapman is about the scientific process. When are scientists expected to "report" on their work before they're ready? All the time. It happens at lab meetings, when writing grants, at scientific conferences, at departmental seminars, and in idle conversation with peers. You don't have to have something publishable, but your coworkers, employers, institution, and funding agencies all want to know what you're working on. Heck, they have a right to know. The main contradiction in Chapman's martyrdom story is this: If the public funds your research, then you have an obligation to make your work public. And if the public doesn't fund your research, then what are you worried about? You have only to answer to your private funding organization. Either you're doing something they want you to do, or you're doing something they don't want you to do and violating their trust. Either you lack the right to carry out your research in secret, or there's simply no need to.

What's more, why would they want to keep their research secret? Putting aside the utterly implausible fear of being kicked out of their own labs, wouldn't producing quality research vindicate the ID movement's oft-stated but never verified claim of having a research program? It would show that ID was useful for at least something, even if it fails in the end. Among the small number of prominent ID advocates who have scientific credentials (none of whom have been persecuted, by the way), about the only thing that's going to salvage their reputations after years of making ridiculous claims and hobnobbing with science-haters is to get out there and produce some results. If they're unwilling to do that, then perhaps it's because they'd rather subsist on the largesse and adulation that the Christian fundamentalist movement showers them with. It sure isn't because no one wants them to do science.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Chapman makes his lame excuse for the simple reason that the ID movement has no research to present. They have put almost all of their resources into their public relations and legal campaigns, and have bypassed the scientific process altogether and gone straight to the public and to the politicians. All of their sciencey talk is at best window dressing, easily seen through by knowledgeable people. That Chapman would have to invent such an obviously false persecution story is just pathetic.

It's About Time...

...that someone stood up to the evil that is Harry Potter.

Ga. mother seeks Harry Potter ban.

A suburban county that sparked a public outcry when its libraries temporarily eliminated funding for Spanish-language fiction is now being asked to ban Harry Potter books from its schools.

Laura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction series is an "evil" attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion.

Let's hope that little things like Constitutional liberties, a respect for literature, or properly functioning brain cells don't get in way of this brave attempt at censorship.