Quickies 7

Hold the verbosity

Experience past quickies: one. two. three. four. five. six.

More recent quickies.

February 2004
Saturday 28
An amusing anime animated GIF.
The Cartoon Guide To Genetics
In a fashion that surprised his critics and followers alike, Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, continued to expel members from the polygamist enclave on the Utah-Arizona border.
The excommunication, though subtle, has set the tight-knit community on edge. Most of the 10,000 residents in Hildale and Colorado City belong to the FLDS church, and families frequently intermarry.

"It's unbelievable," said one source who still belongs to the FLDS church. "It's unheard of. It's unreal. It's amazing."

Jeffs, he said, sees himself "as God to the people." The prophet reportedly recorded people's confessions, making more people scared.
It sounded great, the plan mapped out two weeks ago by Utah and Arizona officials: Polygamists' wives and their children looking for a way out would receive fliers and see a billboard displaying a domestic abuse hot-line number.
Officials even planned for an "exodus" of women and kids from the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., after Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), excommunicated and banished 21 men earlier this month.
But there is no such billboard along the lonely highway between Hurricane and the twin towns. The hot line, 1-800-897-LINK, operates only during daylight hours. After that, callers are told to hang up and dial 911. But if women in Hildale and Colorado City do that, the call would ring straight to local law enforcement -- part of the same religious group they would be trying to flee.
In an apparent move to solidify his control, Jeffs on Jan. 14 ordered 20 men to leave the area, but without their wives, children and personal property. Jeffs said a vision from God told him to force the men out. He later purged more men from the community, including Chatwin.

A power struggle among the tight-knit congregation of 6,000 has everyone on edge and outside authorities watching closely.

"To have families torn apart — wives from husbands, children from mothers — that's the worst kind of violence," said Ron Barton, an investigator with the Utah Attorney General's Office.

Thursday 26
While it is true that there will be an increase in older Americans in coming decades, there will also be a smaller percentage of younger Americans to educate and take care of. In considering public costs, it is the combination of these two - the so-called dependent population - that matters. Here is what you are not being told: the dependent population was larger during the Kennedy administration than it will be in 2020 during the Great Social Security Crisis. Here are the actual percentages of total population:


Children: 36%
Seniors: 9%
Total dependent population: 45%


Children: 24%
Seniors: 16%
Total dependent population: 40%

Incidentally, as of 2000, the total dependent population was 39% so we're talking about a one point increase.

In short, you are being conned on Social Security and the media is doing nothing to defend you.
-Sam Smith
Kerry lost my vote.
Orson is an asshole.

Wednesday 25
These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.
It had long been a tenet of the Catholic Church that Jews killed Christ; this derives from a sentence in one Gospel, in which a Jewish crowd exclaims: "Let his blood be on us and our children." This became a line in the movie. Gibson says that, under pressure, he edited it out-from the subtitles. But he deliberately left it on the soundtrack in Aramaic, even though he easily could have eliminated it from there, too. Why did he leave it in?

This line has been a theme used by anti-Semites for generations to instigate bloody assaults on Jews, from the Crusades to the pogroms of the last century. Pope John XXIII tried to lay this canard to rest during the convening of the Second Vatican Council, where, among other reforms, it issued a declaration in 1965 under his successor Pope Paul VI known as the Nostra Aetate, stating that what happened to Christ cannot be charged against all of the Jews of today.

As a Traditionalist Catholic, Gibson explicitly rejects the reforms made by Vatican II and claims that his movie is an accurate portrayal of what happened. Religious scholars disagree. In 1988, the Interfaith Committee of the National Bishops Conference issued a list of criteria to be followed when dramatizing the Passion, warning against the caricaturing of Jews, which would "result almost inevitably in a violation" of the Second Vatican Council.
Part of the brouhaha stems from Gibson's interest in Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th-century Augustinian nun in Germany who recounted visions of Christ's Crucifixion that some regard as anti-Semitic. Gibson, who carries a piece of her habit as a relic, asks:

"Why are they calling her a Nazi? Because modern secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church. And it's revisionism. And they've been working on that one for a while."

The key phrase in the preceding is "they've been working on that one . . . " Who is "they"? Evidently, "modern secular Judaism."

Now consider the phrase 'modern secular Judaism.' How can a religion be secular? Only if it is not a religion. Is Gibson alluding to the peoplehood of Jewry? Maybe, or maybe he is not sharp enough to distinguish Judaism as religion from Judaism as culture.

I hadn't paid enough attention to this. Now I'm developing a strong dislike for Gibson.
Pilate is seen going through his well-known doubts before finally washing his hands of the matter and turning Jesus over to the priests, but Caiaphas, who also had doubts, is not seen as sympathetically. The critic Steven D. Greydanus, in a useful analysis of the film, writes: "The film omits the canonical line from John's gospel in which Caiaphas argues that it is better for one man to die for the people [so] that the nation be saved.

"Had Gibson retained this line, perhaps giving Caiaphas a measure of the inner conflict he gave to Pilate, it could have underscored the similarities between Caiaphas and Pilate and helped defuse the issue of anti-Semitism."

This scene and others might justifiably be cited by anyone concerned that the movie contains anti-Semitism. My own feeling is that Gibson's film is not anti-Semitic, but reflects a range of behavior on the part of its Jewish characters, on balance favorably. The Jews who seem to desire Jesus' death are in the priesthood, and have political as well as theological reasons for acting; like today's Catholic bishops who were slow to condemn abusive priests, Protestant TV preachers who confuse religion with politics, or Muslim clerics who are silent on terrorism, they have an investment in their positions and authority. The other Jews seen in the film are viewed positively; Simon helps Jesus to carry the cross, Veronica brings a cloth to wipe his face, Jews in the crowd cry out against his torture.

A reasonable person, I believe, will reflect that in this story set in a Jewish land, there are many characters with many motives, some good, some not, each one representing himself, none representing his religion. The story involves a Jew who tried no less than to replace the established religion and set himself up as the Messiah. He was understandably greeted with a jaundiced eye by the Jewish establishment while at the same time finding his support, his disciples and the founders of his church entirely among his fellow Jews. The libel that the Jews "killed Christ" involves a willful misreading of testament and teaching: Jesus was made man and came to Earth in order to suffer and die in reparation for our sins. No race, no man, no priest, no governor, no executioner killed Jesus; he died by God's will to fulfill his purpose, and with our sins we all killed him. That some Christian churches have historically been guilty of the sin of anti-Semitism is undeniable, but in committing it they violated their own beliefs.
Few would question Israel's right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks like the one yesterday, even to build a security wall if that were an appropriate means. It is also clear where such a wall would be built if security were the guiding concern: inside Israel, within the internationally recognized border, the Green Line established after the 1948-49 war. The wall could then be as forbidding as the authorities chose: patrolled by the army on both sides, heavily mined, impenetrable. Such a wall would maximize security, and there would be no international protest or violation of international law.

This observation is well understood. While Britain supports America's opposition to the Hague hearings, its foreign minister, Jack Straw, has written that the wall is "unlawful." Another ministry official, who inspected the "security fence," said it should be on the Green Line or "indeed on the Israeli side of the line." A British parliamentary investigative commission also called for the wall to be built on Israeli land, condemning the barrier as part of a "deliberate" Israeli "strategy of bringing the population to heel."
Meet George W. Bush the waffler/Hypocrite (February 15, 2000):
BUSH: I'm going to appoint conservative people in the Cabinet. It's none of my business what somebody's -- now when somebody makes it my business, like on gay marriage, I'm going to stand up and say I don't support gay marriage. I support marriage between men and women. KING: So if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it?

BUSH: The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into.
How to not park your car.

Tuesday 24
Ken is standing in the aisle, tethered to his cube by the spiraled umbilical of his headset, holding an unlit cigarette, and yelling. Ken is always yelling, and that's why we love him. Lots of us jot down Ken's more memorable tirades and compare notes on our breaks. Now, standing near my cube, screaming in the urgent and gravelly tones of a mid-40s chain smoker trapped in a non-smoking building, Ken tells a customer, "Quit whining and go get a damn screwdriver. I don't have time for this bullshit."
Some 15 years ago, Missouri state senator Harry Wiggins, a Democrat and the spokesman for a bipartisan group trying to get funding restored for a Kansas City home for AIDS patients, met with Ashcroft in the governor's mansion. The Good Samaritan home, as it was then called, had received a $900,000 state grant, but, says Wiggins, "Governor Ashcroft vetoed it. I think twice."

Wiggins tried to explain the home's purpose. "This is a place they go, Governor, but they don't come back," he began. "Many of them, their families have rejected them."

"I understand. You got my attention," Ashcroft said with interest. "This is the place where it is cheapest for me to send them to die."

"Governor, these are human beings who have to have a place to live," protested Wiggins, "or they'll live in boxes under bridges."

Wiggins remembers Ashcroft's reply: "Well, they're there because of their own misconduct, and it wasn't very reputable misconduct, either."

Wiggins was puzzled. "When does misconduct become reputable? When disreputable?"

"That's beside the point," snapped Ashcroft.
Janet Ashcroft somehow acquired the same high-handed reputation. "It was Mother's Day, a Sunday, 1990, when I was called by my staff; who told me Mrs. Ashcroft wanted the Missouri State Library opened," recalls Monteria Hightower, who was then state librarian. Assuming the governor's wife wanted to show visitors around ("and that I could make a pitch for new computers," she adds, chuckling), Hightower left her family at home and hurried to unlock the darkened library. She found Janet, outside in a car with a driver, accompanied only by a boy of 12. With astonishment, she heard Janet's reason for her Sunday appearance at the library: "I want to find something on the Elizabethan era for my son's homework assignment."
Concrete proof Bush hates homosexuals! How about we shove the ERA down their throat in response?
George Bush's proposed 2005 budget cuts funding for veterans' healthcare and public housing. It freezes funding for after-school programs and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants. It provides less than one-sixth of the increase needed to close the budget shortfall in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps low-income HIV patients access medical care and lifesaving drugs. It cuts state Medicaid funding by $1.5 billion.
"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions," Bush said. "They're for tax cuts and against them. They're for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They're for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They're in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts." His supportive audience erupted in laughter and applause.
George W. Bush and John Kerry both spent their mid twenties in uniform. The similarities end there.
McNally's title Remembering Trauma neatly encapsulates the opposing views that, for a whole generation now, have made the study of trauma into psychology's most fiercely contested ground. Are scarring experiences well remembered in the usual sense of the term, or can some of them be remembered only much later, after the grip of a self-protective psychological mechanism has been relaxed? This is the pivotal issue that McNally decisively resolves. In the process, he also sheds light on a number of related questions. Does memory of trauma stand apart neurologically from normal memory? Does a certain kind of traumatic experience leave recognizable long-term effects that can vouch for its historical reality? What memory problems typify post-traumatic stress disorder, and does the disorder itself "occur in nature" or is it a cultural construct? And is memory retrieval a well-tested and effective means of helping adults to shed depression, anxiety, and other psychological afflictions?

Monday 23
"It could be one guy blogging on a computer or the New York Times," said Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist who just released a book of her columns called "Paper Trail."

"There are no gatekeepers for the media anymore," Goodman said. "How do we draw the line between scurrilous gossip and a story? The serious media, if that's the right word, did a pretty good job of trying to put a screen around this story."
Here's a clue for Goodman: The only gatekeeper in the past was the cost of buying your own press.
"I said three years ago publicly that I planned to leave PBS in the year 2001," Moyers noted. "Then 9/11 happened and they asked me to do a series for three weeks, and then they asked me to do 'Now' and one year became two years," he told The TV Column.

"I don't feel 70 years old but I do see fewer grains of sand in the upper part of the hourglass. I had planned to leave on the 5th of June" -- his 70th birthday -- "but PBS has designated 'Now' as an important part of their election coverage . . . and asked could I stay through the election, and I said I would."
First, George W. Bush begins any policy consideration with three fundamental questions: What does the religious right want? What does big business want? What do the neo-conservatives want? If he has stood up to any of these core supporters in the past three years, examples don't come readily to mind.
Second, he is openly uninterested in learning and reading – the Bushes "aren't serious, studious readers" he has said, also admitting that he now reads headlines, not articles. The point is not that he's stupid, only that he knew less about policy and the world as a presidential candidate than the average graduate student in government.
The result: the most radical, messianic and misleading presidency of modern times. Frankly, no one else comes close. It has gotten to the point that President Bush appears to believe that he can do almost anything if he says the opposite: hence "no child left behind," "clean skies law," "healthy forests," and "love the poor" are mantras repeated in the hope that he can bend reality to his will. Arthur Miller calls it "the power of audacity."
I cannot get out of my mind the photo that appeared on the front page of The New York Times on December 30, alongside a story by Jeffrey Gettleman. It showed a young man sitting on a chair facing a class of sixth graders in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. Next to him was a woman. Not the teacher of the class, but the young fellow's mother. She was there to help him because he is blind.

That was Jeremy Feldbusch, twenty-four years old, a sergeant in the Army Rangers, who was guarding a dam along the Euphrates River on April 3 when a shell exploded 100 feet away, and shrapnel tore into his face. When he came out of a coma in an Army Medical Center five weeks later, he could not see. Two weeks later, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, but he still could not see. His father, sitting at his bedside, said: "Maybe God thought you had seen enough killing."
THE REAL PROBLEM: Halbfinger reveals the real problem with Teresa Heinz Kerry, but does so only in passing:
HALBFINGER: Where he appears stiff, she is spontaneous, dispensing unsolicited romantic advice to campaign workers and reporters. Where he can appear calculating, she comes across as guileless, trashing a profile of her in a major newspaper as a “dumb piece” by “a dumb person who wrote it.”
The real problem? Halbfinger’s stupid—and Heinz Kerry knows it! According to Immutable Pundit Law, it’s the one thing you must never reveal.
Does Kerry take “more special interest money than any other senator?” No, and the (hapless) Washington Post piece which led to this ad never made such an assertion. According to Peter Beinart, Kerry ranks ninety-second among U.S. senators when it comes to special interest money.
U.S. authorities in Iraq have awarded more than $400 million in contracts to a start-up company that has extensive family and, according to court documents, business ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon favorite on the Iraqi Governing Council.

The most recent contract, for $327 million to supply equipment for the Iraqi Armed Forces, was awarded last month and drew an immediate challenge from a losing contester, who said the winning bid was so low that it questions the "credibility" of that bid.
Why go to college when all you have to do is befriend Bush? Cronyism kills capatalism.
I don't really get why everyone is throwing a fit over Nader. I think it's kind of funny. He didn't make Gore lose last time. Gore lost it all by himself.
BECAUSE OF THE CONTINUED SLANDER OF RALPH NADER by Democrats in deep denial, we went back and looked at the actual poll results in the last months of the 2000 campaign. The chart above shows the change in the average poll percentage from month to month. You will note that except between July and August during a period of minimal change, there was no correlation between Bush's percentage change and that of Nader.
Oh, don't miss the "secret" Pentagon report on the plan in case of environmental doom. The Guardian lost a lot in my eyes over this.
In semi-related news:
Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose 95 per cent of its living coral by 2050 - predicts a new report. And this devastating situation will occur if the best-case scenario for global warming unfolds.

However, the damning predictions have sparked debate, with some researchers saying the claims are exaggerated. They do not reflect the current level of uncertainty about either the impact of warmer waters on the Reef, or likely climate change, say critics.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that global warming will increase sea temperatures by between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius this century. At the lower end of this limit, which will be expected only if current greenhouse gas emission rates are reduced significantly, "there will be much more frequent coral bleaching events and coral will become quite rare - down to five per cent of current levels for all of the Great Barrier Reef," says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies and co-author of the report.
Forget Mel's Movie:
The movies are a little more than a century old. Imagine if we could see films from previous centuries -- records of slavery, the Great Fire of London, the Black Plague. "Osama" is like a film from some long-ago age. Although it takes place in Afghanistan, it documents practices so cruel that it is hard to believe such ideas have currency in the modern world. What is shows is that, under the iron hand of the Taliban, the excuse of "respect" for women is used to condemn them to a lifetime of inhuman physical and psychic torture. No society that loves and respects women could treat them in this way.

Sunday 22
Ashcroft using new spy powers to check out who is protesting war. Terrorists rejoice!
Rob Stutzman, Arnold Schwarzenegger's communications director, thinks San Francisco's civil disobedience regarding the prejudicial law means "we're going down a dangerous path that leads to anarchy." Add stupid on top of bigot.
Doug Giles is
...an officially ticked off father, as just the other day without warning and without notice both my daughters were exposed to “It’s Okay to Be Gay” propaganda presented by high school students to their classmates, including my daughters, with the approval of their high school and middle school teachers.
Yes, how dare schools teach children not to hate people for being gay. *yikes*
Teachers and kids can’t talk about Jesus Christ, Moses or Biblical ethics -- at least not in a positive, plausible sense -- in the classroom.
Yes we must return to the Biblical ethics because they are so good! Take Deuteronomy 22 where if you discover that your wife is not a virgin, "...the men of her city must bring the young woman to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death..."
The pro-gay propaganda and politically correct thought-control spawned by a few, a VERY FEW liberal deconstructionists ought to be radically and unendingly challenged by the 95-plus percent of Americans who think homosexuality is wrong.
OK, OK. He's just living in a fantasy world.
Rebels fighting to oust Haiti's president say they have taken the nation's second city, Cap-Haitien, after launching an assault on Sunday.
Chest pains have prevented Robert Mugabe from attending a funeral a day after he celebrated his 80th birthday, state television says.
To Insure Promptness

Saturday 21
It is ironic that the right (and the Bush administration) have no problem attacking Moyers for his partisanship while they actively takeover most of the rest of the airwaves for their one-sided and totally partisan view without any balance at all. If you watch Bill Moyers, please let PBS know you really value his voice and if you don't, take some time to see what you think and then express your opinion of whether you think it is important to keep his voice on the air. In my opinion he is a national treasure and we would be so much poorer without his insightful voice.
Under a new policy at the Lawrence Middle School, seventh- and eighth-graders are allowed to leave class for the bathroom a maximum of 15 times a month. As a result, some are afraid to use up their bathroom passes too quickly and end up with a full bladder and nowhere to go.

The pass system went into effect last month as a way to monitor the school restrooms and stop students from skipping class. It is the latest in a series of disciplinary measures school administrators have taken in response to behavioral problems that have included bomb threats.

Urologists say the practice can lead to infections and incontinence.
How does this create a better environment for the child that can only think, "Gotta go. Gotta Go. Gotta go right now!"?
Teachers tell worrying stories which depict the veil as the beginning of selective opposition to the curriculum. This might, for example, include a Muslim student's refusal to do gym or discuss certain areas of natural science, or to countenance teaching on the Holocaust, and then shade off into abuse or physical violence after a classroom session on the Middle East. Teachers are also clear that the wearing of religious symbols tends to exacerbate the divisions over heated issues such as Palestine. This is a management issue then, as much as a matter of principle, and a very urgent one, because of the frightening rise of anti-semitic harassment in French schools. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, during one school term alone, more than four hundred anti-semitic incidents were reported, which is why, on the eve of the war, the minister of education, Luc Ferry, suggested the time had come for students to 'drop crosses, veils, skullcaps' and 'play by the Republic's rules'. Matters have hardly improved since then, and the problem is not confined to schools. Crucially, most of the trouble is now alleged to be caused not by the far right but by groups of impoverished, radicalised Muslims, mostly in the banlieues. As a result French Jewish emigration has increased massively in the last three years - in 2002 it was more than double the previous year - and according to the Israeli Government movement from France to Israel itself has reached levels last seen at the time of the Six Day War.
On fearing foes of fear-mongers are using fear to fight fear. How frightening!
...this conference, called "Fear: Its Uses and Abuses," which extended over three days, paid little attention to that difference. Beginning with former Vice President Al Gore, who delivered the keynote address, speakers asserted again and again that the American government is preoccupied with instilling fear. The conference, organized by the journal Social Text and its editor, Arien Mack, gathered scholars like the poet and critic John Hollander, the political scientists George Kateb and Ira Katznelson, and the law professor Cass R. Sunstein. There were talks on the neuropsychology of fear, the social psychology of fear and fear in literature, and varied analyses of the Bush administration from critics like the Nation columnist Eric Alterman and Aryeh Neier, the president of the Open Society Institute.

But the dominant idea was that, as the conference's thematic statement put it, fear was being "encouraged by our government and exacerbated by our media." It was compared with the irrational fear of Communism and the perversions of McCarthyism. It was described as part of a counter-constitutional coup by a radical right. Talks about other aspects of fear — how, for example, it tends to drive out reflective thought with its stimulus of the "lateral nucleus of the amygdala" — mainly served to frame the theme. Mr. Hollander devoted some time to discussing Roosevelt's classic statement that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but after a while it became evident that "fear itself" was what many speakers wanted to inspire, not just to describe.
Naomi Wolf claims Harold Bloom sexually harassed her 20 years ago.
In her 1997 book Promiscuities, Ms. Wolf wrote about an unnamed college professor who placed his hand between her legs after showing up at her apartment to discuss her poetry. Other classmates, she claimed, had had similar experiences, but she thought she could resist. "My whole body, my whole self-image, once again, again, burned with culpability," she wrote. "It felt so familiar: this sense of being exposed as if in a slow-moving dream of shame. I could practically hear my own pulse: What had I done, done, done?"
Camille Paglia, who traded blows with Ms. Wolf in the early 1990’s over their radically different views on female sexual power, said she was no longer at war with Ms. Wolf, but was "shocked" to learn of Ms. Wolf’s accusations against Mr. Bloom, who is a long-time mentor of Ms. Paglia’s.

"I just feel it’s indecent that if Naomi Wolf did not have the courage to pursue the matter at the time, or in the 1990’s, and put her own reputation on the line, then to bring all of this down on a man who is in his 70’s and has health problems—who has become a culture hero to readers in the humanities around the world—to drag him into a ‘he said/she said’ scenario so late in the game, to me demonstrates a lack of proportion and a basic sense of fair play," said Ms. Paglia, who is professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she said she helped institute that university’s sexual-harassment policies in the 1980s.

"At the beginning of the 90’s, people said, ‘Oh, Naomi Wolf, this great thinker,’" said Ms. Paglia. "But what she’s managed to do in 10 years is marginalize herself as a chronicler of teenage angst. She doesn’t want to leave that magic island when she was the ripening teenager. How many times do we have to relive Naomi Wolf’s growing up? How many books, how many articles, Naomi, are you going to impose on us so we have to be dragged back to your teenage-heartbreak years? This is regressive! It’s childish! Move on! Move on! Get on to menopause next!"
Singer came to England to talk about "A Darwinian Left", but no sooner had he stepped off the plane than the Daily Express was reviving the old controversy over Singer’s view that in certain circumstances, it may be better to end the life of a very severely handicapped baby in a humane way, rather than use all modern medicine can do to let it live a painful and often brief life. Singer tried to defend himself on Radio Four’s Today programme, but in such a brief news item, his calm reasoning was always likely to have less impact than the emotive pleas of his opponent.
If the left takes account of evolutionary psychology, Singer argues, it will be better able to harness that understanding of human nature to implement policies which have a better chance of success. In doing so, two evolutionary fallacies have to be cleared up. First of all, we have evolved not to be ruthless proto-capitalists, but to "enter into mutually beneficial forms of co-operation." It is the evolutionary psychologist’s work in explaining how ‘survival of the fittest’ translates into co-operative behaviour which has been, arguably, its greatest success. Secondly, there is the "is/ought" gap. To say a certain type of behaviour has evolved is not to say it is morally right. To accept a need to understand how our minds evolved is not to endorse every human trait with an evolutionary origin.

Thursday 19
Some critics say the movie blames Jews for the death of Christ and will provoke anti-Semitism, and they question why Mel Gibson hasn't denounced his father's views.
I don't know anything about the movie or whether or not Mel's Dad is a crazy, old bigot, but if it's true that a couple thousand years ago some Jews were bad to Jesus, doesn't it make those Christians and Catholics look like grudge-nurturing Neanderthals? Is there a statue of limitations on hating a race for something their ancestors supposedly did to someone that didn't do a thing to prove who he was while in their custody because of his alleged father's will?
A review of The Quest for Consciousness: A neurobiological approach by Christof Koch
Andreas Wilke and Rui Mata review How Homo Became Sapiens: On the Evolution of Thinkingby Peter Gärdenfors
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
...what about the magical number seven? What about the seven wonders of the world, the seven seas, the seven deadly sins, the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades, the seven ages of man, the seven levels of hell, the seven primary colors, the seven notes of the musical scale, and the seven days of the week? What about the seven-point rating scale, the seven categories for absolute judgment, the seven objects in the span of attention, and the seven digits in the span of immediate memory?

Yeah, what is it with that? George A. Miller, in a classic paper from 1956 explores a bit of the cognitive science lying behind the numerology of the number seven.
Consider first grader Darius, observed in a classroom-based study (St. Paul Public Schools, 1985). Darius never talked aloud, was slow to complete his work, and worked in a "socialization group" to "draw him out of his shell." When the computer arrived, Darius spent nearly 90 minutes with the machine his first day. Immediately thereafter, his teacher noticed that he was completing seatwork without prompting. Then he would slide his seat over to the computer and watch others program in Logo. Soon after, he would stand beside the computer, talking and making suggestions. When others had difficulties, he was quick to show them the solution. Others started getting help with Logo from him. In brief, Darius moved up from the lowest to the highest reading group. He began completing twice as much work per day as he had previously. He participated eagerly during class discussions and—as a "crowning achievement"—was given a 10 minute "time out" because he wouldn't stop talking (St. Paul Public Schools, 1985)!
You can’t help liking a book that includes a section titled “How to write a classic paper”. And certainly no one is in a better position to provide such a guide than Robert Trivers, who single-handedly shaped current thought on topics in sociobiology and evolution ranging from sex ratios to parent-offspring conflict to reproductive strategies. In Natural Selection and Social Theory, Trivers, now at Rutgers University, provides a retrospective of 5 of his theory papers published between 1971 and 1976, an empirical paper on Jamaican lizards, and 4 later papers. Each reprinted publication is accompanied by an introduction and in most cases a postscript, and it is these additional essays that will make the book worthwhile to most readers. The introductions are personal, sometimes gossipy, and anyone looking for candid - perhaps too candid - views on the major players in the sociobiology controversy of the 1970s will find them here, with the requisite digs, for example, at Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin. Others, such as E. O. Wilson, Ernst Mayr (who appeared in a dream, where he helped Trivers with the problem of haplodiploidy and hymenopteran sex ratios), and W. D. Hamilton, receive more flattering treatments.
I am sure that I sound a familiar chord with other research scientists when I express my excitement at the arrival of the latest edition of my favorite research journal. I carefully peel off the wrapper, reach for my favorite color highlighter, reach for my coffee, and sit down in a comfortable chair to digest the latest articles written by fellow scientists. Even the smell of the fresh print and the crispness of the new paper add to the experience. Reading of new discoveries at the cutting edge of knowledge and determining the place of my own research in those advances can be quite exhilarating. But as familiar and as satisfying as these experiences have been - to say nothing of their contribution to the advancement of science - I sense that it is all about to change in a most extraordinary way. The research article and scientific journal are about to meet the Internet, and the world of scientific reporting will never be the same. I will argue that the transition and result will be nothing short of revolutionary.
Carter's "Final Thoughts About Africa."
For Kucinich supporters who voted for Dean out of pragmatic considerations, now may be the time when they feel like they can stand up and be counted. Kucinich should stay in and see if his percentages can rise into the teens, showing that he has more of a following, if still a minority one. K's longer range task is to figure out how to make a movement out of his support. Something Ralph Nader hasn't figured out.
The Kerry affair scandal that wasn't. Another example of Matt Drudge's crappy "reporting."
Veterans face conundrum: Kerry or Bush?, by James Webb
The Project on Defense Alternatives calls the Pentagon on its adversion to report civilian casualties.
The poor criminals class of the UK gets reemed online.

Thursday 19
The Rules For An Affair, by Anonymous
Scientists strike back against Bush.
Become an Objectivist!

Tuesday 17:Metafilter is back after a hardware failure.
A new book about Bill Hicks sparks some talk.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is an non-proprietary, XML driven alternative to flash that can be easily modified using a text editor.
Research Vs. Religion: Scientists Win Lawsuit Against Native American Tribes The 9,000 year old remains, found in Kennewick, Washington in 1996, will be made available for study, rather than being buried by tribes who had hoped to assert the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in this case.
The American Peace Movements, by David Adams
In Iraqi Towns, Electoral Experiment Finds Some Success, By Anthony Shadid

Saturday 14
Magpie writes about the better against secularism is the USA lead by Roy Moore and Zell Miller. Here's a quote showing Miller's illiteracy.
Everyone today seems to think that the U.S. Constitution expressly provides for separation of church and state. Ask any ten people if that’s not so. And I’ll bet you most of them will say ‘Well, sure.’ And some will point out, ‘it’s in the First Amendment.’

Wrong! Read it! It says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Where is the word ‘separate’? Where are the words ‘church’ or ‘state.’

They are not there. Never have been. Never intended to be. Read the Congressional Records during that four-month period in 1789 when the amendment was being framed in Congress. Clearly their intent was to prohibit a single denomination in exclusion of all others, whether it was Anglican or Catholic or some other.
...Or for those of us with the ability to comprehend English it says Congress can not establish any denomination at all. I guess intelligence is not important in Georgia.
Ebert likes The Dreamer a lot.
Dary Matera gets suspended for writing about Mormons in less than flattering terms. Giving it to wacko religions requires a finer touch.

Thursday 12
Why is wealth so unevenly distributed among individuals? This is perhaps the most controversial and inflammatory of all topics in economics. As J K Galbraith noted, the attempt to explain and rationalise inequality "has commanded some of the greatest, or in any case some of the most ingenious, talent in the economics profession".

We all know that a few people are very rich and that most of us have far less. But inequality in the distribution of wealth has a surprisingly universal character. You might expect the distribution to vary widely from country to country, depending not only on politics and culture but also, for example, on whether a nation relies on agriculture or heavy industry. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, an Italian engineer-turned-economist named Vilfredo Pareto discovered a pattern in the distribution of wealth that appears to be every bit as universal as the laws of thermodynamics or chemistry.
The battle between RSS and Atom has divided the blogging world since the summer, when critics of RSS came together to create an alternative format. Since then, a raft of blog sites and individuals have lined up behind Atom, while Yahoo has thrown its considerable weight behind RSS.
In case you thought the rumble over the merits of the Atkins diet would have cooled following last year's death of Dr. Robert Atkins, guess again, bub. The below report from the New York City medical examiner--which was inadvertently provided to a Nebraska doctor who is vehemently anti-Atkins--shows that the 72-year-old physician had suffered from a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. According to his death certificate, the "immediate cause" of Atkins's death last April was "blunt impact injury of head with epidural hematoma." He was critically injured when he struck his head in a fall on an icy Manhattan street. The references to Atkins's medical history are contained in handwritten notations on one page of the ME's document--"MI" for myocardial infarction, "CHF" for congestive heart failure, and "HTN" for hypertension. The document, first reported on by The Wall Street Journal, also lists Atkins weight as 258 pounds.
"Are you shaking your head for something, young man, back there?" Powell asked. "Are you part of these proceedings?. . . I seldom come to a meeting where I am talking to a congressman and I have people aligned behind you giving editorial comment by head shakes."
Well, it's better than the jerking-off gesture that Kennedy used during the Clarence Thomas hearings. But it wasn't the only bit of lip that Powell had to put up with. At one point in the hearing, Rep. Sherrod Brown made a casual reference to how Bush "may have been AWOL" during the Vietnam War. Responded Powell: "Mr. Brown, let's not go there."
Does the spyware issue raise new issues of privacy and the amount of confidence people can have in their computers? Or is this just next-generation spam?
I think it does raise some of the issues to a new level. Especially in cases where people are getting software installed on their computer without their knowledge, or their default settings changed without their knowledge. It's more than just spam when someone is able to constantly monitor your behavior or send pop-ups to you without your consent. So it's more than an annoyance, it can be a privacy problem, and it can be a major security problem for the Internet.
The military will have no money to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for three months beginning Oct. 1 because the White House is declining to ask Congress for funding until December or January, well after the presidential election.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the Senate Armed Services Committee the $38 billion he has for 2004 war operations will last only until the end of September, as he spends $3.7 billion a month in Iraq and about $900 million a month in Afghanistan. The Army has about 114,000 soldiers in Iraq and roughly 10,000 in Afghanistan.

"I am concerned on how we bridge between the end of this fiscal year and when we can get a supplemental in the next fiscal year," Schoomaker told the committee.

The fiscal year -- the government's spending year -- runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 annually. Funds for 2004, therefore, run out Sept. 30, 2004.
President Bush plans to endorse a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman in response to a Massachusetts court decision requiring legal recognition of gay marriages in that state, key advisers said yesterday.
This is one of the more shameful moments of today's politics. I have no respect for anyone that thinks the government ought to enforce religious gender rules in marriage when those same rules are historically murderous and cruel forms of sexism.
It's clear that Ann Coulter's career is built on making Republicans look bad by providing quotable insanity to further the political divide in this country.
A triple amputee and Vietnam veteran, Cleland is making the rounds on talk TV, basking in the affection of liberals who have suddenly become jock-sniffers for war veterans and working himself into a lather about President Bush's military service.
[I never even mentioned it until Peter Jennings tried to pin the whole issue as "fact" to Clark in the debates after Moore called him a deserter. I am more interested in making Peter look bad for pretending it was such a factual issue.]
That Bush skipped out on his National Guard service is one of liberals' many nondisprovable beliefs, like global warming.
[Global Warming is a fact. The debate in the scientific community is more a matter to the degree of its affects and the accuracy of their climate change predictions.]

Monday 9
Aparna Jairam isn't trying to steal your job. That's what she tells me, and I believe her. But if Jairam does end up taking it - and, let's face facts, she could do your $70,000-a-year job for the wages of a Taco Bell counter jockey - she won't lose any sleep over your plight. When I ask what her advice is for a beleaguered American programmer afraid of being pulled under by the global tide that she represents, Jairam takes the high road, neither dismissing the concern nor offering soothing happy talk. Instead, she recites a portion of the 2,000-year-old epic poem and Hindu holy book the Bhagavad Gita: "Do what you're supposed to do. And don't worry about the fruits. They'll come on their own."
And yet you've been famously cool about Linux.
Re-implementing what I designed in 1979 is not interesting to me personally. For kids who are 20 years younger than me, Linux is a great way to cut your teeth. It's a cultural phenomenon and a business phenomenon. Mac OS X is a rock-solid system that's beautifully designed. I much prefer it to Linux.

What about the open source idea in general?
Open source is fine, but it doesn't take a worldwide community to create a great operating system. Look at Ken Thompson creating Unix, Stephen Wolfram writing Mathematica in a summer, James Gosling in his office making Java. Now, there's nothing wrong with letting other people help, but open source doesn't assist the initial creative act. What we need now are great things. I don't need to see the source code. I just want a system that works.
The anchor of his own show on Fox News said he was sorry he gave the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein weapons program poised an imminent threat, the main reason cited for going to war.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this," O'Reilly said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

"What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?" asked O'Reilly, who had promised rival ABC last year he would publicly apologize if weapons were not found.
Has anyone else noticed that Dennis Kucinich has risen up from the bottom of the Democratic presidential heap, at least in the latest caucus states? Kucinich got 8 percent of the vote in Washington, 5 percent in Michigan, and 15 percent in Maine's caucuses. In Washington and Maine, Kucinich actually got more votes than Edwards or Clark.
He's like the guy from Average Joe:Hawaii that won the surfboard race and ends up getting picked to leave anyway, but he's got heart!
Dr. Robert Atkins, whose popular diet stresses protein-rich meat and cheese over carbohydrates, weighed 258 pounds at his death and had a history of heart disease, a newspaper reported Tuesday. Atkins died last April at age 72 after being injured in a fall on an icy street. Before his death, he had suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a report by the city medical examiner.
For your own safety, please let this diet die!
All too often, she says, bringing free markets and elections to developing nations leads not to stability or prosperity but to hate-mongering, discrimination and even genocidal violence. . . "I think it's kind of a taboo topic in the West," said Ms. Chua, 41, during an interview at her office on the Yale campus. America, she said, doesn't like to talk about ethnic conflict: despite a long history of racial problems, assimilation is part of the national creed. But in much of the developing world, she argues, nations are starkly divided along ethnic lines. Disproportionately wealthy ethnic minorities - Ms. Chua calls them market-dominant minorities - exist alongside poor and resentful majorities. And in such cases, she insists, adding democracy and free markets can be disastrous.

As she states the case in her recent book, "World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability": "Markets concentrate wealth, often spectacular wealth, in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. In these circumstances the pursuit of free market democracy becomes an engine of potentially catastrophic ethnonationalism." And this, she adds, is precisely what is happening today in Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Russia and the Middle East."
In other words, the purpose of the estimate was not to inform an (already reached) decision on whether war was necessary. Rather, it was to enlist intelligence in the campaign to deceive Congress into thinking that Iraq posed such a threat that the legislative branch’s prerogative must be surrendered to the president, and—not incidentally—to make so persuasive a case to the nation that those who dared vote against the president would be highly vulnerable in the mid-term election of 2002. That worked, too.

Monday 9
Bush AWOL/Deserter story has substance.
Preacher pilot's poor judgement puts pressure on American Airlines to do more than censure. I certainly won't ever fly with them as long as they employ this guy.
Tawakkalt ala Allah
Evangelical Christians form one of the most potent forces in American politics and society. They are people who place their faith, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, above everything else in their lives and hope to spread that Gospel to the world.

An estimated 70 million Americans call themselves evangelicals, and their beliefs have already reshaped American politics. In the last election, 40 percent of the votes for George W. Bush came from their ranks, and now those beliefs are beginning to reshape the culture as well -- thanks to a group of best-selling novels known as the “Left Behind” series.
In Bush's Platonic reality, the world is dangerous, threats exist, and the evidence of our senses must be interpreted to fit that larger truth. On the night he launched the war, for example, Bush told the nation, "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Russert asked Bush whether, in retrospect, that statement was false. Bush replied, "I made a decision based upon that intelligence in the context of the war against terror. In other words, we were attacked, and therefore every threat had to be reanalyzed. Every threat had to be looked at. Every potential harm to America had to be judged in the context of this war on terror."

You can hear the gears turning in Bush's mind. We were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. That attack exposed a new reality. That new reality changed the context for interpreting intelligence. Or, as Howard Dean less charitably puts it, if Bush and his administration "have a theory and a fact, and [the two] don't coincide, they get rid of the fact instead of the theory."

The more you study Bush's responses to unpleasant facts, the clearer this pattern becomes. A year and a half ago, the unpleasant facts had to do with his sale of stock in Harken Energy, a company on whose board of directors he served, shortly before the company disclosed that its books were far worse than publicly advertised. Bush dismissed all queries by noting that the Securities and Exchange Commission had declined to prosecute him. "All these questions that you're asking were looked into by the SEC," Bush shrugged. That conclusion was his measure of reality. As to the different version of reality suggested by the evidence, Bush scoffed with metaphysical certainty, "There's no 'there' there."
THE LAST BULLDOG DIES: Tim Russert’s first question showed a small bit of promise. “On Friday,” he said to his guest, “you announced a committee, a commission to look into intelligence failures regarding the Iraq war and our entire intelligence community. You have been reluctant to do that for some time. Why?” But instead of an answer, he got a long speech—the first of many he’d hear this morning. “Let me step back and talk about intelligence in general,” his slow-talking guest slowly said:

BUSH: Well, at first, let me step back and talk about intelligence in general, if I might. Intelligence is a vital part of fighting and winning the war against the terrorists, because the war against terrorists is a war against individuals who hide in caves in remote parts of the world, individuals who have these kind of shadowy networks, individuals who deal with rogue nations, and so we need a good intelligence system. We need really good intelligence. And so the commission I set up is to, obviously, analyze what went right or what went wrong with the Iraqi intelligence. It was kind of lessons learned. But it’s really set up to make sure the intelligence services provide as good a product as possible for future presidents as well, which is a part of analyzing where we are on the war against terror.

There is a lot of investigations [sic] going on about the intelligence service, particularly in the Congress, and that’s good as well. The Congress has got the capacity to look at the intelligence gathering without giving away state secrets, and I look forward to all the investigations and looks—again, I repeat to you, the capacity to have good intelligence means that a president can make good calls about fighting this war on terror.

Can you find any hint of an answer to Russert’s question? Bush was asked why he dragged his feet on setting up a probe. His answer? Terrorists are people who hide in caves. Bush’s languorous “answer,” by the way, lasted a minute and 32 seconds. That was 92 seconds the slow-talking guest had managed to take off the clock.

But readers, you know that ol’ bulldog, Tim Russert! Surely he got in Bush’s face with a tough-talking follow-up question, a question designed to force his guest to get himself back on the mark! After all, Russert is the toughest pundit in all punditdom, pundits say. He’s just “like a prosecutor,” they like to say. You can run—but you can’t hide from Russert.

But no, Russert didn’t follow up when Bush gave a speech to avoid his first question. As he did throughout the hour, he simply moved on to Question 2 when Bush failed to answer Question 1. What happened to that frightening bulldog—the one the press has talked up for years? You saw it—that bulldog turned to a puddy-tat, coughed a hairball and died. What became of Bulldog Tim? That “dog” didn’t bark, hunt or slobber.
The President on Meet the Press
Party-mindedness is an enemy in itself, if only because it makes intelligent people act and think stupidly. But the belief in the candidate's "program" is hardly less of a trap. I hate to say it, but a successful contender for office can change his mind on, say, universal health care. What he cannot change is his personality. If he's a money-grubbing, narcissistic, and approval-seeking psycho at the start, he will not doff these qualities in the Oval Office. One ought therefore to begin by eliminating all those who are running for some kind of therapeutic or Oedipal reason. (This doesn't cost much: It would only have deprived us of Kennedy, Nixon, Hart, and Clinton in the recent past, and superior candidates from both parties were readily available in all those instances.)
Yet another review of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by arch-rival The Nation
Like Paul Berman, the maître penseur of the liberal hawks, many neocons try to enlist Lincoln for their cause. But Lincoln opposed the Mexican War and rejected the idea that the United States had a duty to spread democracy by force. In 1859 Lincoln ridiculed "Young America," who "is a great friend of humanity; and his desire for land is not selfish, but merely an impulse to extend the area of freedom. He is very anxious to fight for the liberation of enslaved nations and colonies, provided, always, they have land, and have not any liking for his interference."

The redefinition of American patriotism as zealotry on behalf of a crusading, messianic ideology is compatible with a disrespect for actual American institutions, which, if it were expressed by leftists or liberals, would be denounced as un-American by neocon arbiters of American patriotism like Frum, a Canadian who bothered to become a US citizen only after he'd served in the Bush White House. Most of the career professionals in the national security agencies--the military, the intelligence community and the Foreign Service--oppose the grand strategy of Bush and his neocon political appointees. Logically, therefore, Perle and Frum want to replace lifelong public servants with presidential spoilsmen. Of the intelligence community they write, "It may be time to bring all of these secret warriors into a single paramilitary structure ultimately answerable to the secretary of defense"--not to mention Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense Feith. If the intelligence agencies had already been subordinated to civilians in the Pentagon, then Wolfowitz and Feith would not have needed to do an end run around the CIA and the State Department by creating a new intelligence agency, the Office of Special Plans, which tortured data until it supported the policies advocated by the neocons. While neocon appointees in the Pentagon bring the intelligence community to heel, others will colonize the diplomatic service. Perle and Frum, two former political appointees, write, "Next, we should increase sharply the number of political appointees in the State Department and expand their role."
A small Pentagon planning office under fire for its alleged manipulation of intelligence on Iraq is also dealing with other countries in the Persian Gulf, including Iran, raising concerns among critics about the shaping of Bush administration policy in this sensitive region.

Defense Department spokesmen acknowledge that a small, four-member team is working on Iran policy within the Pentagon's so-called Office of Special Plans. Critics contend that the office has been distorting intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda in order to strengthen the case for war.

A senior Pentagon official told the Forward that the office is "a pure policy-planning shop" and was not engaged in reviewing — much less distorting — intelligence.
The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hardline conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war.
Kwiatkowski, 43, a now-retired Air Force officer who served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia (NESA) unit in the year before the invasion of Iraq, observed how the Pentagon's Iraq war-planning unit manufactured scare stories about Iraq's weapons and ties to terrorists. "It wasn't intelligence‚ -- it was propaganda," she says. "They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together." It was by turning such bogus intelligence into talking points for U.S. officials‚ -- including ominous lines in speeches by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell's testimony at the U.N. Security Council last February‚ -- that the administration pushed American public opinion into supporting an unnecessary war.
Any good religious person believes prayer should be balanced by action. So here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
All nine Democratic candidates have brought religion and their own faith journeys into their campaign speeches, interviews, and platforms to some extent during this campaign season. Here is a look at what the Democratic candidates have to say about God, faith, prayer, the separation of church and state, their religious upbringing, and more.
Kuro5hin is becoming unglued. Gives C F and only nerds know Y.
The upshot is that I won not in spite of the fact that I was a Green running against an entrenched machine, I won because I was a Green running against an entrenched Democratic machine. And it wasn't only me; following my first win in July of 2001, in the general election in November we elected a second Green in a predominantly African American ward. A third missed winning by 15 votes. A fourth and fifth garnered 42 and 25 percent respectively. All this was sufficient to create a panic in the Democratic ranks who are, unlike most political activists and political observers, acutely aware of the tenuousness of their hold on power.

Saturday 7
KV German for “broke,” unable to pay for even the most basic public services. Governor Schwarzenegger, whom I met when he was nothing but “Mr. Universe,” now thinks he can sell bonds for the next generation to pay off. Hasta la vista, Baby. And every state and municipality in America is ganz gebusted. You think Baghdad is a mess? Wait till you see Kokomo, Indiana, two years from now.

TROUT What about President Bush’s statement that he gave a tax cut to the rich because they could make wiser use of it than the government ever could?


TROUT That’s all?

KV He told the truth! Even a stopped clock tells the truth once every 12 hours. Who couldn’t make better use of money? Would you just look what the federal government has done with the billions and billions of public money we used to have in our treasury? This administration has squandered it all, and then some, on Rube Goldberg devices for protecting us from—or blowing the crap out of—Arabs, most of whom could never attack us even if they wanted to. It was Saudis who knocked down the Twin Towers. Anybody notice that? And we act as though the Saudis are as pure as the Virgin Mary.
I am absolutely a capitalist. Capitalism is the greatest system that people have ever invented, because it takes advantage of bad traits, as well as our good traits, and turns them into productivity.

But the essence of capitalism, which the right-wing never understands-it always baffles me-is, you got to have some rules. Imagine a hockey game with no rules.
-Howard Dean (also, his favorite philosopher is Lao-Tse)

Friday 6: Happy Birthday!
I have not found a reason to vote for Kerry yet. This article is one of many that will make me stay home on election day if he is the Democratic candidate.
One of the benefits of a free society is the ability to access government documents like the ones Paul O'Neil used to write his book.
I want to sue for the serious injury to the American pride that happened because of this lawsuit.
A good starter for the Skeptic's Dictionary site.
In High Fidelity Rob Gordon reviews his past dates. What if a woman did it?
How much help should the government offer?
Is the Super Bowl more about families getting together or about more domestic violence? The Super Bowl is the most watched and yet is a meaningless event.
GM oilseed rape charged with reducing biodiversity and might be banned in EU.
"Do you know who I am?" seems to be a favorite of Senator Kerry.
It's becomming quite clear that George W. Bush is a deserter.
Another story on that baby with Cranio Pagus Parasiticus.
The NEw Scientist has a special section for Depleted Uranium news.

Wednesday 4
Maria Gisela Hiciano, holds her daughter Rebeca in her arms as her father Franklin Martinez, caresses her at the CARE clinic in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004. Rebeca, a Dominican infant born with a second partially formed head is scheduled to undergo a risky operation that will take an estimated 13 hours for a team of international doctors and nurses on Friday.
In an effort to maintain their consistently low standards, Tech Central Station published this article by Dr. Helen Smith.
She begins with the fallacy of false analogy. Terrorists are not the habitually violent offenders that she deals with in her practice. It would help her case if she knew anything about even a single terrorist in order to make her diagnosis, but she discredits her credentials by making claims without evidence.
Her article is dependent on Stockholm syndrome straw men that want to nurture terrorists. The critics of Perle, Frum, and Dr. Smith wish to route out terrorism at its source through smart diplomacy rather than smart bombs. We don't ever call for placating terrorists, but we do understand that we cannot occupy every nation that contains terrorists. We also understand that occupation is not a foolproof formula and our warnings about the current administration's lack of post-war planning have turned out to be just as right as our WMD doubts.
The problem is that dehumanizing those that live in areas where terrorists are born make war more palatable to the public, while the no-bid contracts make it more profitable.
Mark Steyn unloads his fallacy of false dichotomy.
Conservatives shouldn't assist the Western world's self-loathing fringe in imposing a burden of proof that can never be met. The alternative to pre-emption is defeat. If you want a real "underlying issue", that's it.
On Being Sane in Insane Places: Redux
Chancellor High School student suspended for five days for having two Tylenol tablets.
Students in the school were outraged by the news--but one Stafford High teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, supports the policy.

"Regardless of reason or innocence, these procedures for administering medication at school were established for a reason and must be followed," the teacher stated. "Without such safeguards, teachers would be held responsible for identifying pills.

"I, for one, do not want to be held responsible for the high risks associated with bending this policy."
Yeah, who needs reason when in school? What moral cowards!
Chutzpah—a Yiddish word that the dictionary defines as "unmitigated effrontery or impertinence, gall"—is best illustrated by a much-cited anecdote.

"Chutzpah is when a man kills his mother and his father and then throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan."

In the last few days in Washington, however, prominent neoconservatives, particularly arch-hawk Richard Perle, are giving new meaning to the word.

It wasn't enough that Perle, author of a new book titled An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terrorism, gave the keynote speech last week at a rally at the Washington Convention Center in solidarity for an Iranian rebel group officially listed by the State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization." (A self-described terrorism expert, Perle later pleaded ignorance about the rally's purpose, despite the fact that the Red Cross and the La Leche League had figured out the connection and withdrawn their own association with the event.)

Tuesday 3
The group exploded on me. "What the f-- did you just say?" one of them yelled at me, jabbing his fingers in my jacket. And then he used the ultimate line of desperation: "Do you know who I am??!"

"I don't like your shoes!" I yelled. "Get lost!"
USA Library ranking
An interesting look at the popularity of certain names.
SOA/WHISC commanders are said to be "smarting" over their failure to impose a US-backed military/civilian dictatorship in Venezuela in April 2002 when democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez Frias was swiftly returned to power after US-puppet dictator Pedro Carmona Estanga dissolved parliament, the judiciary and Venezuela's constitution in one fell swoop. Carmona Estanga was not able to control the massive surge against him as millions of Venezuelans took to the streets repudiating his imposition and demanding the return of reformist Chavez Frias.
Conspiracies so vast: Conspiracy theory was born in the Age of Enlightenment and has metastasized in the Age of the Internet. Why won't it go away? By Darrin M. McMahon
Iran is at the brink -- but of what? Hard-line repression or revolution? It's hard to believe that things will ever be quite the same in the Islamic republic after the current standoff between the forces of reform and tradition.
Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.
The environmentalists' campaign against biotechnology in general, and genetic engineering in particular, has clearly exposed their intellectual and moral bankruptcy. By adopting a zero tolerance policy toward a technology with so many potential benefits for humankind and the environment, they have lived up to Schwartz's predictions. They have alienated themselves from scientists, intellectuals, and internationalists. It seems inevitable that the media and the public will, in time, see the insanity of their position. As my friend Klaus Ammann likes to hope, "maybe biotech will be the Waterloo for Greenpeace and their allies." Then again, maybe that's just wishful thinking.
Bush Administration's environmental destruction timeline
While global warming is being officially ignored by the political arm of the Bush administration, and Al Gore's recent conference on the topic during one of the coldest days of recent years provided joke fodder for conservative talk show hosts, the citizens of Europe and the Pentagon are taking a new look at the greatest danger such climate change could produce for the northern hemisphere – a sudden shift into a new ice age. What they're finding is not at all comforting.

Monday 2
The Bush team's real vulnerability is its B.M.D. — Budgets of Mass Destruction, which have recklessly imperiled the nation's future, with crazy tax-cutting and out-of-control spending. The latest report from the Congressional Budget Office says the deficit is expected to total some $2.4 trillion over the next decade — almost $1 trillion more than the prediction of just five months ago. That is a failure of intelligence and common sense that threatens to make us all insecure — and people also feel that in their guts.
Landmine sensitive plants
"What we have learned from these rocks is how the Earth can, over a long time, combat global warming. What we need to discover now is why and at what point it goes into combat mode, and precisely how long the conflict takes to resolve," he explained.
The fact that the SES is offering a philosophy to its students and not providing a general philosophy course throws up a number of interesting issues. The most significant of these is whether students are being misled by the school. It is true that if one reads the details of their literature then it is clear enough that the lectures are underpinned by an Eastern philosophy. However, unless one has some prior knowledge of the normal content of more traditional philosophy courses, then this will not appear to be at all out of the ordinary. Also, it is quite possible to arrive in the classroom for the first lecture, as I did, having seen only a newspaper advertisement for the school, where it is not made clear that it is a philosophy that is on offer. Indeed, some of the students that I spoke to had not been aware that they were not getting a traditional philosophy course. One told me that he had been so puzzled by the content of the first lesson that he had mentioned the SES to a friend, and had been shocked to discover that the school had the reputation of being "some kind of religious cult."
Kansas state court infested with intolerant a-holes.
"May You Die in Horrible Agony": A Brief Overview of Curses in the Western World
Bill writes about the HWR article that claims Iraq was not a Humanitarian Intervention and then gets a letter claiming to be from a soldier involved with the unit from the original story.
Winged Messages By Daniel Mendelsohn
"Outsourcing" Is Good for America By Douglas A. Irwin

Spin it!

Sunday 1
Nietzsche's bitter break with Wagner arose from his disappointment with "The Ring of the Nibelung" and his outrage at "Parsifal," which concerns the knights of the Holy Grail. Nietzsche thought that the "Ring" subordinated music to drama, allowing the Apollonian to dominate. And it concluded with a Gotterdammerung -- the apparent end of the world -- thus seeming to convey a decadent longing for nothingness. These sins, however, paled in comparison with Wagner's affirmation of Christian asceticism and compassion in "Parsifal." That opera Nietzsche regarded as an unpardonable apostasy from his hoped-for new German paganism of instinctive self-assertion.
...We influence what each other does. Sometimes that can lead to more conformity than we'd expect in a collection of independent individuals. And sometimes it can lead to sudden changes in social behaviour, like those described in the American writer Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point.

Physicists are used to seeing things like this. In a lump of iron, for example, each atom is like a tiny compass that can point its magnetic needle in a particular direction. Individually, each atom is free to choose its own orientation; but because of the magnetic forces between them, all the atoms tend to align their needles. Brazilian physicists have used a magnetic model like this to explain why the voting statistics of the 1998 Brazilian elections aren't what one would expect from a collection of independent decisions: the voting patterns show a clear signature of collective behaviour. This is what we'd expect if everyone is trying to convert their neighbours to their own political orientation. This puts an interesting twist on what we understand by democracy.
Nabokov, famously, came to hate the novel because of the cruelty of the world in which it was set - the remorseless beatings of Sancho and Quixote, the children putting furze under the horses' tails to drive them wild. He thought Cervantes shared his age's indifference to suffering, and indeed a modern reader reacts differently to japes and humiliations.

Dostoevsky, on the other hand, made a subtle identification of the Don's battered, patient, sorrowful countenance with Christ himself, despised and rejected of men. He said Quixote was the most perfect attempt in Western literature to represent a "positively beautiful man". He added that "he is beautiful only because he is ridiculous", and went on to say that his nearest rival was Mr Pickwick, "weaker as a creative idea but still gigantic". The human way to present goodness and beauty, Dostoevsky thought, was through humour - arousing compassion by ridicule. Out of his perception of Quixote came his idea for the character of Prince Myshkin in The Idiot who, like Quixote, does a lot of damage through pure idealism. This tells us something about the hybrid comic nature of the novel in general.
Germaine Greer:
This year 1million Australians out of a population of 20 million are living outside Australia. Many Europeans who have given the best years of their lives to Australia have decided to cut their losses and return to the other side of the world. Go to Greece and you'll be astonished at how many Greeks speak fluent, idiomatic Australian. So why do so many abandon the you beaut country? What can be the problem?
Although Clinton’s presidency epitomized the Third Way of today’s (ex-) Left succumbing to the Rightist ideological blackmail, his healthcare reform program would nonetheless have amounted to a kind of act, at least in today’s conditions, since it would have been based on the rejection of the hegemonic notions of the need to curtail Big State expenditure and administration—in a way, it aimed to “do the impossible.” No wonder then that it failed. Its failure—perhaps the only significant, although negative, event of Clinton’s presidency—bore witness to the material force of the ideological notion of “free choice.” That is to say, although the large majority of the so-called “ordinary people” were not properly acquainted with the reform program, the medical lobby (twice as strong as the infamous defense lobby!) succeeded in imposing on the public the fundamental idea that, with universal healthcare, the free choice (in matters concerning medicine) will be somehow threatened—against this purely fictional reference to “free choice”, all enumeration of “hard facts” (in Canada, healthcare is less expensive and more effective, with no less free choice, etc.) proved ineffective.
I was first introduced to the term "anti-gun" as a pejorative, specifically, one used against me concerning this piece I did on this site. It is, of course, a loaded term, aimed at turning its target into a straw man that may be used as target practice. The most vocal tend to be the most extreme, and those who use the term "anti-gun" tend to be politically radical in their own right—a radicalism that, in my experience, is tied up with fear of the government, black-helicopter conspiracy theories, and the general American longing for, and fear of, Armageddon. I even received an e-mail suggesting that, because I supposedly do not support universal and unrestricted gun ownership, I do not value my own life—which is similar to saying that because I support gay rights, I must obviously be a pedophile. The scary part of this isn't so much that the American educational system has failed to train these people in critical thought; it's that they're not only armed, but they're stupid and armed. Our current age would do well to heed Nietzsche's warning of the "use and abuse of history."
Student anti-sweatshop activism has come of age. Exercising substantial sway over corporate giants, it has helped overseas garment workers make unprecedented gains. But with many battles looming, some activists worry their momentum has peaked.

The signing of a collective bargaining agreement last March at the BJ&B hat factory in a Dominican Republic free-trade zone was particularly sweet for student campaigners. The illegal firing of union loyalists and grisly working conditions that came to light seven years ago at the factory launched the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), the force behind campus labor activism. It in turn helped establish the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent factory-monitoring group whose investigation spurred the resolution at BJ&B.
Those who vent their moral indignation over low pay for Third World workers employed by multinational companies ignore the plain fact that these workers' employers are usually supplying them with better opportunities than they had before, while those who are morally indignant on their behalf are providing them with nothing.
Thomas Sowell attacks his straw man. People protest sweatshops for a whole host of reasons.
...Palm Beach County prosecutors, having apparently leaked information about the case as well as some of the negotiating documents between them and Limbaugh's lawyers, now want Limbaugh to plead guilty to a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Limbaugh's lawyer, the respected civil libertarian, Roy Black, considers this "preposterous." It is worse than that, which is presumably why the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal brief on behalf of Limbaugh. Another brief on his behalf has been filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which wants to scotch the prosecutors' release of his medical records.
But According to Bill O'Reilly the ACLU is the "most dangerous organization in the USA." Now they defend Rush. Irony overload!
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