Saturday, August 20, 2005


I am scheduled as a guest on the Jay Diamond Show, from 7 to 9 on WRKO in Boston, along with my FloridaBlues co-blogger Gatorchick. No idea what it will be like, but I hope it goes well. She was actually the one invited, and I am going along as sort of a secondary guest. Still, its cool. :)

Swimwear for the Conservative Set

John Cole links to this catalog for women. Like all fashion catalogs, it features attractive models wearing the latest in swimwear. Unlike most fashion catalogs, however, it is Saudi Arabian, and most of the models are covered from the neck to the ankles. Somehow, I don't think Hasema is going to give Maxim or even Abercrombie a run for their money. Still, is it me, or are some of these outfits kind of nice? I would buy one for my wife to wear out as semi-casual wear. Am I wrong?Interestingly, some of the outfits show quite a bit more flesh than would be expected. Of course, I suppose the pools and beaches ARE segregated. Kind of removes the joy of the beach for me. To each their own, I suppose. (Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Half the Taft, Twice the Corruption

So, Governor Taft demonstrates yet again that the rules do not apply to the Republican Party. Perhaps part of his punishment should be to, oh, I don't know, invest in rare coins. If it was a Democratic governor pleading no contest to ethics charges, he would be lambasted on talk radio and hounded until he quit. From CNN:
The governor has forced out underlings for ethics offenses, but he said those cases were different. Taft said his golf outings were mostly weekend events with friends and he didn't know they needed to be reported. The Ohio Ethics Commission found no evidence that he had given political access in exchange for the outings.

Taft, 63, entered the cramped city courtroom Thursday accompanied by his attorney, his wife and two state troopers. He stood respectfully as he apologized to Froehlich.

"As governor I have made it clear that I expect all state workers to comply and follow both the spirit and the letter of Ohio's ethics laws, and I have demanded no less of myself," Taft said.

But at a news conference minutes later, Taft said repeatedly he would not resign, saying he had too much to do in his remaining 16 months as governor.
Certainly, both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty of such things, but for some reason, the pundits and blowhards only pay attention if the guilty party has 'D' somewhere after the name. One wonders if Ohio might have swung the other way in 2004 if Taft is shamed sooner.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Friday, August 19, 2005

ID: Strawmen and Silliness

In today's Gainesville Sun, a letter to the editor by someone named Robert Ausband attempts to claim intelligent design as a legitimate scientific endeavor rather than crank science. I wrote a response to the letter, leaning heavily on the website PandasThumb for my information. The man's letter really bothered me, because while I do not teach biology, I do teach history, and I have struggled at times these past two weeks to get some of my students to understand or accept the fact that man has changed since he first appeared, and that the evidence indicates an Earth millions of years old. It is crap like intelligent design that makes my life difficult and closes the minds of students to what science has made obvious. I have no problem with religion, and while I am Catholic, these days I tend toward deism. But even the Catholic Church has accepted the idea of evolution in some form. Anyway, here is my response to the straw arguments and silly claims of Mr. Ausband. Whether it is published by the Sun, I don't know.
Robert Ausband, in his letter to the editor of August 19, comes across as rather misinformed concerning the concept of so-called 'intelligent design.' He argues that there is no relation to religion; in fact, a "broadly theistic understanding of nature" is one of the main goals of the whole ID movement, as evidenced in the Discovery Institute's own 'Wedge Document.' That document lays out a broad strategy for recreating science with an increased emphasis on religion "to replace it [materialistic science] with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." Please keep in mind that those are the words of the leading ID organization, the Discovery Institute, and not those of critics of the idea. The whole 'Wedge Document' and the strategy behind it can be found at
Mr. Ausband also claims that ID theory is simply an effort to 'fill in the blanks' of evolution theory, and provides examples without bothering to explain them. It must be noted, then, that his example of evoloution theory being unable to 'reconcile the mathematics of information theory with the nearly infinite complexity of the DNA molecule' demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of both. I assume here he is referring to the creation of 'new information' in the form of new genes; the work of Manyuan Long at the University of Chicago, as well as other researchers, has shown that the development of 'new information' is not that difficult and quite common. As for the concept of 'irreducible complexity,' recent research continues to break down the myth. For example, the March 18, 2005 issue of Science has an article discussing the evolution of the swim bladder of a fish, something with according to the theory of irreducible complexity could not have evolved because it would supposedly be useless unless it was in it's present form.
Where Mr. Ausband really misleads readers is when he implies that Stephen Jay Gould, one of the leading advocates of evolutionary theory, rejected evolution prior to his death. In fact, Gould, like most proponents of evolution, had long since argued that the theory of evolution had moved beyond the ideas of Darwin and the 'survival of the fittest.' He was in no way giving credence to the idea an 'intelligent designer.' Truthfully, if science were to accept the idea of intelligent design, it would be the end of science as we know it. After all, if we can not yet explain something, then we can just say, "oh, it was created by an intelligent designer, so let's just forget trying to understand it or explain it."
Finally, let me pose this question: if there is no relationship between religion and intelligent design, then just who does Mr. Ausband believe was the creator, and just what are we supposed to teach students about that creator? If Mr. Ausband believes what he has written, then it would be perfectly acceptable to teach students that the designer was simply an advanced alien architect, not evolution or the Big Bang or a deity. Somehow, I doubt that Mr. Ausband would support that sort of teaching in a science classroom.
(For a detailed discussion of the flaws of intelligent design theory, I suggest checking out the website, which is run by actual scientists in an effort to rebut the claims of both intelligent design and creationism.)
God, I hope one of these days some ID'er comes back from Heaven and reports that in fact, God was an Australopithicene. That would be justice.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at Floridablues)

On the Gaza Withdrawal

And so the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip continues, and it seems to have been a quicker task than the Israeli government expected. It has not been without difficulties however. From the Washington Post:

Using water cannons and cranes, Israeli forces broke through barricades of tables lashed together with rope, coils of razor wire and a hail of rocks,paint-filled light bulbs and what military officials said was acid thrown by scores of settlers holding out on the roof. Dozens of commandos, climbing ladders and being lowered onto the roof inside shipping containers, took more than three hours to clear the building.
"This was the most difficult place,no question about that," said Gideon Meir, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official who was splattered with paint as he watched the scene. "But in the end it went faster than anyone imagined."
I think the image of Jewish soldiers storming a synagogue is not going to sit well with some significant percentage of the Israeli public. That being said, the Israeli government is doing the necessary thing for security and the hope for peace...but especially for security. Not having to defend illegal settlements will free up the resources of the IDF, and serve notice to the Palestinian Authority that Israel is washing its hands of the region.

I think, as well, that the resistance to removal offered by the settlers and their supporters demonstrates again that religion can motivate people to do dangerous things and to take actions that they might frown upon if others did them. For example, many of the settlement supporters believe that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been promised to Jews by God, and it is a crime against God for the government to remove them by force. This is a dangerous belief, and I wonder whether or not we will see some sort of violent reaction among the most religious of the settlers. It is fortunate and prudent that the Army has not entered the synagogues or homes with weapons beyond batons, for one could imagine something bad happening.

And naturally, much of the outrage about removal compared the Israeli government to the Nazis, a comparison that is unfortunate and simply wrong. It is, however, driven by those twin beasts of zealotry and passion, and is to be expected. Still, it is disturbing to read this:
Just after 3:30 p.m., a group of teenagers poured motor oil and water over the long ramp leading up to the doors of the synagogue. A gray-bearded man emerged a few moments later carrying an Israeli flag, which he set on fire.

"Heil, Hitler!" he yelled, drawing scattered howls from the hundreds of onlookers gathered for the final showdown in Gaza's largest settlement.

I wonder, really, what that man was thinking. I might have reversed the comparison myself, for the actions of the settlers seem more akin to the idea of a natural right to territory that was pushed by the Nazis. They, too, believed that they had a divine destiny to seize and control the 'living space' on their borders. But just as it is wrong for the settlers to equate the Sharon government with the Nazis, it is inappropriate, I think to equate the motivations of the settlers with those of the Nazis.

Religion, sometimes, is a dangerous thing.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Lifting the Rock and Exposing the Bugs

Well, I just thought that I would share with the appreciative audience of this blog some of the fine intellectual thinking from our friends over at the kinist Reconstructionist blog, Little Geneva. Some of the most recent posts are below. Please be aware that the comments below do not reflect the outlook or values of myself or this blog. It is important, however, to be aware of the comments and thoughts of people such as the bloggers over at Little Geneva, for they reflect a dangerous but growing trend of thought. From Little Geneva:

Minority populations on the rise. What on earth is happening to North Carolina? Maybe the name should be changed to North Chihuahua.

What results when blacks are left to their own devices in a large city? Twelve thousand abandoned homes and 36 square miles of vacant land. Now there is a proposal to turn swaths of Detroit into farmland! So it turns out that this is a wonderful recipe for agrarianism. Hand the big cities over to blacks, and in no time at all the farmers can move in.

The New Jersey Attorney General gets involved when a waitress writes the words "Jew couple" at the bottom of a bill. But Jews aren’t litigious or anything. Perish the thought.

Brenda Berrios and Karissa Smith are the first mother-daughter military team to make war in Iraq. This is a huge victory for ugly women.

(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at Floridablues)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Catching the Gay

Economist and fellow Red Sox fan (Go Sox!) Dan Drezner has an amusing post up about a recent do-it-yourself checklist provided by Focus on the Family that is intended to help you determine if your child is, you know, 'different.' From 'Is My Child Becoming Homosexual,' we see the top seven signs your child might be catching the gay (drumroll please!):
Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include:

1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.

2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.

3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.

4. A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.

5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”

6. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl
Drezner comments:
Well, as a child, I certainly suffered from 1, 2, 4, 5, and maybe 6 (Depends how you define "think effeminately").

If you'll excuse me, I have to go tell my wife and children about my latent homosexual qualities and accompanying gender confusion. I fear that my son will probably cry and feel different.

Geez. One would think that wanting to be in the company of girls would be a sign of heterosexuality. And the whole 'roughhousing that other boys enjoy'? Yeah, um, as Dan Drezner implies, guess it depends on how you define 'roughhousing.' Me, I prefer to be in the company of girls. I will leave the roughhousing with other guys to my gay friends. :)
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Oops! Breaking a few eggs and all that...

So, the gentleman killed by police in London last month? The one that was acting all suspicious, wearing a bulky coat, jumping the turnstile, running to the train and looking dangerous? Yeah, well, seems he was none of those things. According to the Observer,
The questions are mounting. Initial claims that de Menezes was targeted because he was wearing a bulky coat, refused to stop when challenged and then vaulted the ticket barriers have all turned out to be false. He was wearing a denim jacket, used a standard Oyster electronic card to get into the station and simply walked towards the platform unchallenged.

So why didn't the young man stop when he was being chased by the plains-clothes officers? Well, the Observer may have the answer:

Two weeks before he was killed, de Menezes had been attacked by a gang of white youths, seemingly at random. According to friends this experience left him shaken and nervous.

Gee, if I had just been beaten up by a bunch of thugs a couple weeks earlier and then was being chased by guys who dressed and looked and sounded like them, I wouldn't stop either. One wonders, really, if anyone will be held accountable for this tragedy. Interestingly, all of the cameras seem to have not been working in that station that day. Go figure.
Read the Observer piece for more details.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
< Blogarama