Monday, February 28, 2005
Drilling Holes In My Own Head
What could possibly be the attraction? I could get wasted and subjected to an illogical harangue from a gibbering paranoid in Hampden and it would cost me maybe 20 bucks if done at the right bar. There might even be an English guy there who's
False Choices? We Report, You Ignore
If I was a terrorist-loving dictator, like Assad, which would SCARE me more into "being nice"?...
A. some liberal who says "We can negotiate...we can have talks....we can go through endless UN regimes....and you'll die peacefully in your bed in 45 years, still in power, with nothing done to change your violent ways!"
B. some guy who says "Straighten up....or we'll turn Damascus into a sheet of radioactive glass!"
Hmmm?....how DO dictators usually respond, given a choice of "A" or "B"?
Simple minded, I know. I would have commented directly there, but it raises a sort of interesting question about mindset and so on. I'll have to assume that the commentor's editorializing in option A is just a fancy way of saying "diplomacy". Otherwise, it's a totally false choice, because I don't think anyone's ever tried that. I'll also have to quibble a bit with the phrasing, because as it stands, it doesn't make a ton of sense. We don't go to someone like Saddam and say "Hey, would you prefer us to try and be diplomatic, or would you prefer we threaten you?" WE would make the choice between A and B. Anyway, I think the sentiment of the comment is "Which is the more effective way to get dictators to do what we want, A or B? And if we go with B, which option in B would you think they'd prefer?"
To his first question, I would say we have no way of knowing the answer, so I'll leave that alone. However, his second question is actually answerable with plenty of evidence from recent history. Dictators respond by ignoring it.
We could start with Iraq. I don't think option A was actually tried, but we sure tried option B. In case anyone missed it, we had to invade because that particular tyranical dictator didn't "straighten up". I'm pretty sure we tried that with the Taliban too with much the same result. We could also look at the Balkans. In the case of Kosovo, in order to get Milosevic to "straighten up", we intially tried A, and it didn't work. We then tried B, and that didn't work either, because we had to start bombing. We've also tried B in a more general form in the "Axis of Evil" speech. However, that hasn't stopped Iran or North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. One could also look to An End To evil, where Richard Perle and David Frum claim we have now demonstrated that if you're a state that doesn't do what we want, "you're next". Has any state that we have a beef with started doing "what we want"? Now you could argue that before we invaded Iraq no one thought we really "meant it", but now they know we do. But this doesn't answer the Iran and North Korea questions, since it's been almost two years since we invaded Iraq and neither country has shown any signs of "straightening up".
What I would be interested in knowing(and since I don't have time to research it today) is if we have ever actually had success with option B. It would seem to me that option C is actually the most effective. Namely, we should skip both the ineffective liberal diplomacy and the equally ineffective macho sabre rattling and jump right into the invasion/bombing part. Perhaps, though, there's an option D whereby we say "we'll be really nice to you" and then start bombing. Or maybe there's an option E, where we threaten a dictator, and then send him flowers instead.
The reason this is at all interesting to me is the article of faith that some people seem to hold, which is that we should go beyond "tough talk" straight into threats of force because it's an effective deterent. There may be times when this is true, but I don't think it's true in general. This mindset seems to dovetail nicely with people who are very strongly pro-death penalty, when the death penalty has been shown time and again to be an ineffective deterent. But somehow this mindset persists. Now, I'm not advocating a "turn to niceness", I'm just curious if that kind of "tough" is any kind of effective.
I'd Like To Tell The Academy...
Friday, February 25, 2005
It's Not What You Think It Is....
Friday Pup Blogging, Go Robot! It's Your Birthday Edition
The left or the right?
I'm Klipper. The folks here at RUFNKM have kindly agreed to let me post here, even though I’m brand-new to the blogosphere. They are very kind and I will try not to disappoint them. By way of introduction:
The left or the right?
Whose side are you on?
I’ve been thinking about what’s going on behind our backs, or above our heads, as we quibble.
In the puppet show of "the left" VS "the right" someone
is pulling all the strings. 51 companies feed ALL the tubes America sucks on for information every day. 51 companies with all the money in the world at their disposal and almost all the control in the world they need. So I wonder...? Why am I shouting over an imaginary line at myself? Who am I serving? What am I missing?
I think everyone on "the left" dutifully trying to keep up with "the right" in the urgency race or to expose them in their lopsided morality and should join me in saying "Are you 'effin kidding me?" and go take a walk in the woods or a drive in the hybrid car.
Let 'em say what they want. We can't keep up with them, they're sick, awful, miserable robots with nothing beautiful in their lives. Do you think Ann Coulter is happy? Of course not! If she gets what she thinks she wants, she will still be miserable, and then she'll die. It's sad. For her.
Let 'em 'eff up social security and ban abortion. Let 'em pass a constitutional amendment to stop "the gays" from marrying, restrict our speech and tap our phones. Until America tastes the pain "the right" will bring there will be no revolution, there will be no revelations and there will be no peace.
I say, "Bring it on!" Do it now before too many people who have nothing to lose "proliferate" nuclear weapons. Do it before Yosemite gets paved to make room enough to launch a Wal-Mart into space. Do it for peace and so our children have somewhat of a good earth on which to live.
Happy Birthday Jinbmore!
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Can You Please Tell Us About The Controversy?!?
Who Says Philosophers Aren't Useful?
(Hey, did you read that nutty stuff over at Powerline today? And every day? Here's my advice. When you find yourself reading something by Hindrocket, some rant about how irrational and traitorous the left is, or the MSM; just sort of pretend you are reading a Spider-Man comic, and Hindrocket is J. Jonah Jameson yelling at Betty Brant, or Robbie. Or Peter. About Spider-Man. Because why does he hate on Spidey so? Spidey is so obviously not a menace. He's good. It's too bad we all know who Atrios is now. Otherwise we could imagine: what if Atrios is really, like, Hindrocket's secretary? I realize it is really a quite serious matter than the right-wingers have gone around the bend and apparently aren't coming back. Still, you've got to find a way to read their stuff with a sunny heart.)
That is just so right-on. I always told my parents that collecting and obsessively reading Spider-Man would pay dividends. Now I know I was right.
Secret Love, Not So Secret Hate
Now would be time for a confession. Since early 1999 I've harbored a secret crush on Katrina Vanden Huevel(it all started when my local SF chapter of Social Anarchists elected her "Socialist Babe of the Year for 1998" - don't ask). After reading this entry on her, I find the time has come for me to stand revealed as I jump to her defense. Specifically, I must object to describing her as "Limousine leftwing". This cheap epithet is so patently ridiculous coming from Horowitz that I must ask, ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
Mr. Horowitz really ought not engage in cheap class-war invective directed at the object of my affections when his entire livelyhood is supported by grants from conservative foundations run by incredibly wealthy people. He hasn't done an honest day's work in at least the last 40 years. No, quarter-witted generalizations and piss-poor thinking - it can't be called "reasoning" by any half-intelligent person familiar with the term - and then opening your mouth or taking up your pen to let it dribble out like urine from a man suffering prostate cancer does not count as work. Any jerk with a computer and a mouth can engage in shoddy polemics(see - for instance - the entire effin' blogosphere). It doesn't take talent or unique insight, and few people make money at it unless they beg, or are sucking at the tits of philanthropic fellow-travelers.
I'll say it again. Outside of foundation funded polemics, Horowitz cannot lay claim to a single accomplishment, intellectual or otherwise. If you look at his life , there are no achievments, no discoveries, no buildings, no beautiful works of art, no novels, no contributions to the advancement of civilization or knowledge, no, not even a good cheeseburger and fries. In short, no works to complete the phrase "life and works". There is just the noise, bought and paid for by rich people who - like Horowitz - feel threatened because there are people in the world who might have ideas that differ.
If Horowitz had any brains at all, he'd realize that the "political reality" he hopes to document is simply that - lo and behold - lots of people don't share his half-baked views. The fact that many of these people are successful, intelligent, accomplished, witty, talented and yes, even wealthy, is no reason for him to get so worked up.
Horowitz fancies himself a conservative, so he ought to understand that if he's looking for actual connections he ought to follow the money. He can't (or at least currently fails to) document the financial connections within his rogues gallery. But his latest site proves you can take the Stalinist out of Marxism, but you can't take the Marxism out of the Stalinist. The only actual connections he can "document" are vague ideological ones of his own creation. Here he sees Juan Cole doesn't think Iraqi democracy is going to shape up the way we're told it will, there he sees Barack Obama being pro-gun control and ipso-facto, they are fellow travelers with Al-Sadr. It doesn't matter that the only thing they have in common is what Horowitz perceives them to have in common - he's got a paradigm, and he's gonna use it!
Discover the network? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Why doesn't he discover me an effin' pizza?
Another Reason Maryland Rocks
To Socialists, Foreign Nuns Matter
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
We Heart Snarky Penguins
Goodbye Dr. Gonzo Baby, and Amen!
Today marks the passing of Dr. Gene Scott, pastor of the University Cathedral in Los Angeles. Doc, as he was known, was the Gonzo Evangelical, and I for one am sorry he's gone. It seems apt that he'd go right around the same time as Thompson.
It's appropriate that the descirption of him linked above is from rotten.com. I went to high school with some of those guys, and we lived in the perfect milieu to appreciate him. If you were an insomniac teen ager hungry for the weird but without cable and living in suburban Northern California in the 1980's and the early 1990's, there really wasn't all that much going on. So Channel 38 was where you tuned in every night. This was the station Doc owned, one of several thoughout the country.
There, you'd see Doc, sitting in his chair, a huge cigar jammed between his lips. He'd normally be ranting and cursing at his congregation for some failing or other. If not, he'd be telling them to "get on the telephone!". This would signal a break where random footage of the LA Freeway, Doc with his horses, Doc with a bunch of girls in bikinis, whatever else. After a while, the footage would end, the camera would cut back to Doc. If he'd gotten enough calls, he'd start in on either another rant, or the the evening's "teaching".
The "teachings" would range wildly in subject matter. Sometimes it would be a justification for why Doc took the coarse attitude he did when preaching, especially in regards to other Christians. Other times he would explain how Reihnold Niebuhr influenced him, and the dangers of "progressive education" and moral relativism - he had an unlimited supply of ire for John Dewey. Other subjects included the pyramids, UFO's, Atlantis, and the Media. He claimed he was using the "gestalt" method of teaching, but I think that may have just been an excuse for the chaos.
He would often spend an entire week's worth of broadcasts on a certain book or subject. When he wanted to discuss a book, he'd read it aloud to the viewers and stop every few pages to offer his comments. He did a few nights on God Knows by Joseph Heller. He once dedicated several night's to a mostly favorable discussion of Michael Parenti's Inventing Reality. How many other TV preachers would even acknowledge the existence of a critique of the media by a far leftist? And how many more would take time to read and discuss it with an audience? Well, now that Doc's gone, that number would be zero.
Dr. Scott's broadcasts were everything modern TV wasn't(and isn't, and never will be, the good folks at Williams Street notwithstanding). They were an exciting unpredictable mess, totally subject to Doc's whim. They'd last as long as he felt like going, they'd show whatever he felt like showing. It was always an ego-trip for him, but an engaging one. Doc showed that if you had a little bit of technology, a bad attitude and an audience, you could do amazing entertainment that was more exciting than anything promised by any major media. He was a DIY'er and punk as hell. And that's why I'll miss him.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Oh, That Class War!
Friday, February 18, 2005
The Truth About John Negroponte
My political convictions were finally beginning to coalesce. Conservatism tugged at my elbow. I worked in a deli/liquor store, and I was appalled at the wasteful way the people from the local trailer park spent their money on pints of Nottyhead and used their Independence Cards to buy $20 pizzas (only to scream at me for undercooking the bacon). I also worked in the admissions office at a college, and I was frustrated when I saw the histories, grades, and test scores of some of the students they were admitting because of their athletic ability. Here I was, working hard at two jobs and holding down an internship, and everyone else seemed to have things handed to them.
It's a natural inclination to think that way. Our instinct is to preserve ourselves. Only upon exposure to different life experiences and further critical thought do we start putting the puzzle together and connecting ourselves to the rest of the world.
That fall, by the time I started digging around at Vote Smart in preparation for my first election in 1996, I knew I was not a conservative, despite the experiences I had. For one, I was lucky
enough to have been brought up by parents who were extremely humble and compassionate. As hard as I worked that summer, I knew that I had grown up in a family that did not suffer economic hardship and taught me about things like integrity, courage, hard work, and morals. In other words, I had plenty handed to me.
I also realized that I shouldn't judge those athletes, and that if I did, I should judge them on their performance in college, not on a high school transcript. I realized that I should learn a little bit about how hard it was for those people in the liquor store to find work in Southern Maryland. (In fact, I ultimately learned from a woman who worked with me at the liquor store. She was on AFDC, back when you couldn't get AFDC benefits if you were working. As part of an effort to turn her life around, she was working under the table to save up money so she could eventually get herself and her daughter off of welfare.)
What also turned me away from conservatism that summer was that Baltimore Sun article on John Negroponte. Here was the sanctimonious party, turning their heads at human rights abuses in Honduras. I realized that the Republican party was the party of hubris and pride, willing to compromise all their moral principles as long as no one found out about it. I realized that if they really believed whole-heartedly in the spread of democracy--without being tainted by greed and avarice--they would have had the patience to lead by example. I realized that they were willing contradict the very soul of democracy--a belief in God-given human rights--to gain control over governments and peoples in other hemispheres.
And now as George Bush tries to spread freedom and democracy around the world, he appoints John Negroponte, suppressor of intelligence on human rights abuses by Battalion 316--a CIA-trained Honduran army intelligence unit--as Director of Intelligence. Are you effin kidding me?
Nothing has changed. The Republican party under George Bush has more blood on its hands than ever. We are facing what may turn out to be the gravest threat of all time, and we need the world's cooperation to keep these backwards barbarians' damage to a minimum. We're not going to get the world's cooperation when we have thugs stinking up our own government.
Just Ask Rick!
- "Senator, when it comes to the public, are you more a top or a bottom?"
- "Senator, speaking as a new dog owner, your obession with man on dog sex makes me think I wouldn't be able to leave my dog with you without you molesting her. If I can't trust you with my dog, how can I trust you about Social Security?"
Ok, so not that elegant. But we have to say, it's hard to be elegant when it comes Senator Froggie. And hey, he's the one who brought up the man on dog sex.
RUFNKM Spits On Brit
As an aside, I would have called for Hume's resignation earlier because I think he's got soot for brains and is a pretentious jerk besides. But not everyone has the same standards I do - nearly every pundit would be unemployed if I had my way. But this is an egregious offense, and it appears others share my view now, so perhaps my dream can become a reality.
RUFNKM: Building a Happier World, One Unemployed Pundit at a Time!
We have to draw a line in the sand. Bush is surrounding himself with yes men and women who have a history of duplicity, blind loyalty, and little respect for human rights. He didn't want the 9/11 committee, and when he caved he wanted Kissinger to lead it. He is moving the federal government farther and farther away from the people by manipulating the press, and each appointee he names has a higher index of depravity than the last. I am truly afraid of what will happen if the Republicans win enough seats in 2006. And then there is the Supreme Court.
This is a very powerful government, and it has absolutely no scruples.
Gonzales got through. Negroponte must not. E-mail your senators now. Here's the info for Marylanders.
Update(from jay):The Nation's David Corn has a post with more details on Mr. Negroponte's previous exploits on behalf of "democracy promotion" in the 1980's. It references and quotes from the Sun series DI mentions.
Update II(from jay again): Cooper has a few more, erm, comments on the nomination.
On Their Alternate Majesties Request:: Friday Puppy Blogging
She's a sheppard/rottweiller mix and just under a year old. She spent the first 8 months of her life stray on the champion streets of Baltimore, the next 2 and a half an inmate of the city animal shelter, another 2 weeks in "foster care", and now she lives with us. I'm not entirely sure who's luckier, but either way, it's working out great.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Got Your War On?
Having won re-election largely on the strength of his national security appeal, he decided to immediately pivot, proclaim the war on terrorism not so important after all, and try to leverage the popularity of his foreign policies into a radical overhaul of the welfare state. It's not what you would call a very serious dedication to the country's security.
We would add snarkily that with the recent spate of memos regarding pre-9/11 warnings of various kinds, this isn't really a pivot. ShrubCo has never and will never take national security seriously.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
You Put Your Politics in My Art!
I have a friend who is working on a book about this very question, and I can't wait to see where he comes down on it. So we'll leave the art and politics question to him, and RUFNKM will keep grappling with "should Blogger have a breathalyzer test?" But if you still want to "unpack" the art and politics question, to use my least favorite phrase of a favorite professor, head down to Washington, D.C. on March 7 for a lecture by Terry Teachout.
We here at RUFNKM love Terry Teachout, even if he is giving the lecture at AEI. Check him on the blogroll (Arts Journal: About Last Night). I can't believe I still haven't cracked his biography of H. L. Mencken, Mohammed of the RUFNKM Caliphate.
Can political art fully satisfy the claims of truth and beauty? Or is it fatally compromised by the passionate desire to persuade? The drama critic of The Wall Street Journal offers a report from the front lines on the increasing politicization of art in 21st-century America—and the growing inclination of contemporary artists to take the political views of their audiences for granted.
Note To L. In Summary of a Monday Night
In other news, for the next few days posting will only be sporadic from the Baltimore Home Office of RUFNKM. We have acquired a new puppy that requires an amount of attention such that we can spare little to national politics or bad newspaper editorials or the idiocy of the far right. She's also far more interesting and much cuter than either.
We hope the Office In The Undisclosed Location can make some time to fill in the gaps.
Monday, February 14, 2005
We Keep Saying We Don't Like Him That Much
Friday, February 11, 2005
Friday Weirdness Blogging
RUFNKM Gets Religion
At Least Will Smith Is Local
To theirs, we add one with local flavor:
-Hitch: Sometime in or around 2002 moved his ideology dangerously close to that of right wing ideologues like David Smith, the CEO of Sinclair Broadcasting.
-Hitch: Sometime in or around 2002 leading man Will Smith moved his wife into a (ridiculously)large house that is dangerously close to the home of David Smith, CEO of Sinclair Broadcasting.
Love Your Machine
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Our Very Own Rove!
Update: Somehow we managed to miss eebmore's contribution from earlier this morning.
More Other-Drunk Punching
Noise Machine Hits Baltimore!
Of course, what we saw on the front page of the Sun was this headline. Anyone looking for "liberal bias" - like that crybaby of a governor we have, who won't even talk to the Sun because they're mean to him(uhm, in case anyone was wondering, the press is supposed to be mean to whomever is in office, and O'Malley's taken just as many knocks) - ought to do a double take, and is hereby granted an "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?" just for thinking it. In actuality, this is a perfect example of the standard issue noise attack. The rumour was started on Free Republic(the origin of the term Freeper, for anyone who wasn't sure), and has now moved to the front page of our only newspaper of record. And in case anyone missed it - and you could be forgiven for doing so since neither story we've linked mentions it - the guy who circulated the rumour is a long time aide to Ehrlich, not some random rogue state employee.
Please note, I'm not the world's biggest fan of O'Malley(we here at RUFNKM are not in the business of endorsements, but I think there's been at least two posts where we've said we prefer Doug Duncan for Governor). We just want to point out that when someone complains about "liberal bias" and denies that there's a "vast right-wing conspiracy", it's perfectly ok to ask "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?". And also a special Note to Freepers: speaking as a Baltimore resident, if you don't like O'Malley there's plenty of policy issues on which you could go after him that wouldn't require dragging his family through the mud. But now that we get to see the noise machine in action up close and personal, you've raised my sympathy for O'Malley, and that was a mistake.
Update:Incoherent Blather has a much more resolutely partisan take on it than we do.
Update: Due to a request from a reader, we changed a word in the above update to clarify.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
State Of Purple
A high school student writes and directs her own play about a gay football star, and how does Loudoun County, Virginia react? Mostly with congratulations and appreciation of her budding talent, thank god. And then comes Act Two:
Del. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) - Flame Fanner
Loudoun County Supervisor Mick Staton Jr. (R-Sugarland Run) - Me II
Mob of Bigots
Scene I: Flame Fanner e-mails his supporters that "two male students engaged in a homosexual kiss onstage" and that public schools were "being used to promote a homosexual lifestyle."
Me II follows up with a missive of his own, warning of the play's disturbing "indoctrination."
Scene II: Mob of Bigots blankets Loudoun churches with fliers decrying the production.
Scene III: School board meeting. The playwright says,
Flame Fanner rips of his shirt to reveal himself as conservative superhero, Misinformed Bigot Piece of Crap: "Within our public schools, there is a tendency to encourage homosexual activity, to portray it in a cute or favorable light. This is a considerable health hazard right now.
"If we encourage just one child to experiment and contract the HIV virus, then we have done an enormous disservice to our children."
Don't worry, teenagers don't f**k. You taught them abstinence, remember? But on the off chance that One Child wasn't in class that day, I hope someone else told him to use a condom so he doesn't get AIDS from the Evil Gay AIDS-Spreaders.
Stay tuned for Act III, where Rep. Black comes out of the closet after I _____ his ________ with a giant wooden ______, then give him a ________ while he ________s all over County Supervisor Staton's ________ under the bleachers at a high school football game. We're negotiating with William Donald Schaefer to play the strapping quarterback that joins in at the end to bugger us all and give us AIDS.
And I don't want to hear the "intolerance of intolerance" canard whereby these jerks are somehow victimized by my calling them out as bigots. Sorry. Practice whatever religion you want. But when you go around saying that kids are going to get AIDS because someone put on a play that recognizes that homosexuals exist, I'm going to call you out for the big, stinking bigot that you are.
"Your honor, I did a bad thing," he said, according to the Associated Press. "While what I did was outside my character, I take full responsibility for my actions."
Raymond took money from New Hampshire Republicans in 2002 and jammed the phone lines of a Democratic get-out-the-vote organization. This means he's a P.O.S., and I hope the rest of his goons follow him to jail.
And today Joseph Steffen, another Republican slimeball, resigned after a Post reporter came to his door of printouts of posts he had made to freerepublic. com propogating a rumor that Baltimore Mayor O'Malley was cheating on his wife. He apologized after he was caught.
P. O. S.
Remember those kids when you were younger who'd get caught doing something and their parents would march them off to apologize, and they'd say, "I'm sorry, m'am" with their fingers crossed behind their backs? That's this guy. Effin slimeball.
For more stomach-turning episodes of Republican cretinism, check the November 2004 Atlantic.
Some attribute the recent string of Democratic failures to Karl Rove's wizardry. As low as my expectations of all politicians are, I have to say that the Republicans have moved into first place in the race toward complete barbarism.
My thoughts, with Behe excerpted in italics:
The first claim is uncontroversial: we can often recognize the effects of design in nature. For example, unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the
If we can recognize the effects of design in nature, we don’t need to move on to the other three points, do we? Later, you’ll see Behe attempt to excuse himself by saying that “we can’t settle questions about reality with definitions.” But that’s absurd. To accept this first argument, we must all agree on the meaning of “design,” if we are to all recognize its effects in “nature.” I don’t even want to begin negotiating the definition of nature with Behe.
And what a canard this
In the past 50 years modern science has shown that the cell, the very foundation of life, is run by machines made of molecules. There are little molecular trucks in the cell to ferry supplies, little outboard motors to push a cell through liquid.
The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. To evaluate this claim, it's important to keep in mind that it is the profound appearance of design in life that everyone is laboring to explain, not the appearance of natural selection or the appearance of self-organization.
The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.
This is where Behe’s argument truly descends into absurdity. In the absence of a convincing explanation, he forces us to accept his explanation. It is also at this point—despite his earlier claim that intelligent design is not a religiously based idea—that Behe turns to God. His explanation is that what we have not yet explained by random mutation and natural selection was intelligently designed. Here is where the question is begged; nay, groveled to with the utmost prostration: WHO DESIGNED IT?
Absent compelling evidence (not absent compelling evidence to the contrary, because scientists do not assume that his design argument hangs in the void they are trying to fill), a scientist perseveres, continues using science to fill that void. I’m very surprised that Behe uses the walking, quacking duck canard, as it were. It is completely specious, because if there is something out there that walks and quacks like a duck but is not a duck, scientists want to know about it. Behe, apparently, does not.
Still, some critics claim that science by definition can't accept design, while others argue that science should keep looking for another explanation in case one is out there. But we can't settle questions about reality with definitions, nor does it seem useful to search relentlessly for a non-design explanation of
Don’t think I’m not taking offense to parts of Light of Reason’s rebuttal to Behe.
The so-called “newspaper of record,” The New York Times, recently regaled us with Charles Murray’s thoughts on the “innate genetic” differences between men and women – and now it entertains us with Michael Behe on “intelligent design.” At this rate, I look forward to being enlightened by Dr. James Dobson on how children should be violently and viciously trained like dogs, and by our Vice President on how to successfully resolve conflicts of interest between one’s business holdings and the claims of public office.
I want to know what these people are thinking. I want the Times to publish this, especially if so many Americans are behind it. Furthermore, it’s bunk to compare Behe and Murray to Dobson and Cheney. Behe and Murray are scientists, whatever their ideological beliefs. We can’t pretend they do not exist. We have plenty of evidence to contradict them, but science never proves anything entirely. We have to leave ourselves open to the possibility, however slight, that these people will somehow discover evidence that there are variations by sex in genetic makeup (beyond the more prominent ones). Dobson is a spectacular moralist and rabblerouser, and it’s high time we stopped giving him so much attention.
I will note that the subtext of Murray’s article, mercifully unspoken for the most part, is given away by one sentence in particular, where its tawdry ugliness becomes all too apparent: “Perhaps knowing that there is a group difference will discourage some women from even trying to become mathematicians or engineers or circus clowns.” “Circus clowns.” An interesting addition to that list of occupations, is it not?
Passive-aggressive inferences don’t help here. I’m guessing any absurd occupation would have gotten the kneejerk liberal deconstruct-the-text-to-find-the-bigot treatment.
The New York Times has shown a distressing tendency of late to reach into the very bottom of the intellectual barrel with regard to scientific debates. In its increasingly limited wisdom, could the Times possibly extend an invitation to a genuine scientific authority like Richard Dawkins to refute this reprehensible nonsense? We can only hope.
These piscine pontificators at the bottom of the barrel are changing society, no matter how fishy their arguments might smell. I’m happy to have them brought within the scopes of those leaning over the barrel.
This criticism of Behe and Murray is quite sound otherwise, but it sullies itself with the tone of someone who reads too many shrill lefty blogs.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
After reading Mr. Behe's op-ed, I've discovered that there are a few misapprehensions I had about ID's approach. But the article confirms my initial feelings on the ideology question. Since ID is being put to ideological purposes in Kansas, it seems worthwhile to revisit that aspect of ID, and leave the scientific critiques to the experts.
After a brief description of what ID is not - warmed over creationism - Mr. Behe makes four claims for the validity of ID. His first two rest more or less on his case for "irreducible complexity" - a term oddly missing from his op-ed - as evidence for design in nature. There are plenty of refutations of this claim that range from the logical to the technical or combinations(this is quite probably the best and most succint - scroll down to "The Flaw In The Mousetrap"). The fact that Mr. Behe forgot to include "science" in his catalogue of what ID isn't doesn't come as much of a shock, but it would have been more honest.
Reading the third and forth claims, I realize I had it wrong when I said IDer's claim that because we don't have enough historical data to prove otherwise, ID was a possible explanation. The situation is far worse. Mr. Behe tells us that design is the only possible explanation. He claims that there are no good explanations for the foundations of life that don't involve intelligence - except evolution, which he dismisses a priori - and therefore ID is the only answer. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? These two claims together demonstrate the straight ideological nature of ID, and call into question not just its claims to scientific validity, but its position on the neutral terrain.
In my previous post on the subject, I assumed that the goal of ID was to create confusion in the public through a subversion of science. I still think that's true. The journey Mr. Behe would take us on starts with a conclusion, proceeds through miles of rhetorical fog, and ends with the conclusion being the only correct one. Mr. Behe, an accomplished scientist, should know better than that, unless what he's after is not rational inquiry, but the pushing of an agenda.
Regardless of what he might say of his intentions(and there is serious reason to doubt them), ID is being used as a political tool. If the public doesn't want to teach evolution, that's the public's choice(and it's too bad). But if they make that decision, they should do so knowing what they are giving up and what they are gaining. Men like Mr. Behe should work to enlighten the public, not be a shill for a particular ideology.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Chomsky Hearts Freedom...developing....
In many respects, the elections were successful.
When will he learn that mocking the will of the people to express their will through elec...oh, wait, he said they were successful. Never mind.
Academic Freedom and Help I'm Choking On A Pretzel!
I have a different question. Why is it suddenly the job of "the left"(such as it might or might not be) to get together as one and condemn this or that point of view? Every time some loudmouth says something somewhat ludicrous, some moral high grounder jerk - left or right - gets on their high horse and demands the "left" denounce said person, be it Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag or even Eric Alterman(to pick a few at random).
Two points ought to be made to the high ground rushers. The first is that I'll start condeming outrageous outbursts on "the left" when everyone else on "the right" opens fire on David Brooks' sexism, Michelle Malkin's and Michael Savage's racism, the absurdity of Limbaugh or Hannity, and the savage un-American ravings of Ann Coulter. The second is that "the left" ought not be about the business of pack denunciations. We're supposed to be rational and free-thinking(or did I miss that class when I was in lefty school?) Unlike "dittoheads" or fans of Fox, we lack the need to select spokespeople - we can agree and disagree with the same person, even on the same day.
So Churchill's an ass? Not my problem, and not yours either.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Macca Go Go
Friday, February 04, 2005
My New Propaganda Technique Is Unstoppable
The truth is, personal accounts will not even come close to making Social Security solvent.
Clearly I misunderstood the purpose of the Social Security debate from the get go. I thought that privatization was proposed as a means to alleviate the solvency problems. But now, outside of Social Security going bankrupt(which in and of itself is a debatable proposition), we're being told two things. The first, which the estimable Mr. Graham said above, is that privatization isn't going to address the solvency problems. The second is what Shrubya told us at the SOTU. He said that personal accounts are a better deal. This leads me to think that perhaps the debate is not about Social Security per se, but about how to provide a "better deal". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?
I can see it now. The debate will turn from "my plan will solve the Social Security crisis" to "my plan is a better deal than Social Security. If you oppose it, you're an obsturctionist, you don't want to give people a better deal! Why do you hate old people?" Meanwhile, competent and sensible economists both left and right have shown that the supposed better deal is a load of hooey, and the "cisis" continues.
In Shrubland, if your faucet leaks, you scream bloody murder that the ensuing flood will drown you and your family. When your friend suggests you fix the faucet, you punch him in the nose for being disloyal. Then you move out of the house and buy some expensive land where some day someone might build a bigger house that doesn't have faucets.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Now That's Politics!
Make Some Noise!
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Well There You Have It
Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.
ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? I thought liberty was the foundation of society. Oh, no that's for other societies. Thanks for getting on the national stage and threatening to make second class citizens of members of my family and good friends of mine. If I were in the mafia...You know what? That one little passage really does inspire hatred, and you'd be right to ask why.
Because he knows it'll never pass, but he knows it doesn't matter. It's not even political expedience at this point, it's just plain red meat to a constituency he doesn't even need anymore. The bigots already gave him their votes. So what the hell was the point? The only possible point would be to give the notion the national seal of acceptability. That is despicable, and it shows you just what he's all about, and it ain't compassion. It's about a man who thinks that the correct arrangment for society is one that provides in excess for those who have much, and kicks the eff out of those who have too little. Giving red meat to the bigots is his way of saying "I won't challenge you to think and grow if you don't challenge my power. Trust me, I'll deliver the goods, ya'll just keep goin' to church!"
You people want a theocracy, fine. Just remember a few things. It was a secular communist who built you the atomic bomb. It was an anarchist who made programming languages possible. It was a homosexual who cracked the Enigma code and invented the theory of computation which is the root of this whole "blog" thing with which ya'll are so entranced.
By the way, we're supposed to modify the Constitution to expand liberty and extend rights and guarantee justice. If the Constitution is there to limit anything, it is the power of the government over the people. I guess 9/11 changed that too.
An Odd Request
Freedom Hater in South Asia
I had to learn about Facism, Stalinism, and National Socialism, all in junior high civics and history classes. Then, in high school I had an economics class that had the audicity to teach me all about the magic of the invisible hand, a theory which is less verifiable than evolution - though accepted(alas, nowadays even by me) as being true enough. Oddly enough, no one complained that in my economics class we also ought to be taught about Marxism, and I went to high school in California! When I asked about it, I was told "go study Kapital on your own damn time!" I guess in those days it was safe to assume that education on subjects that were unpleasant or contrary to one's worldview would only serve as helpful.
But times they are a-movin' backwards. People are such wimps now that if they are taught something with which they disagree, they're afraid...Well, I'm not sure what they're afraid of, but there doesn't seem to me to be much in the way of explanation other than that.
But lo, a solution beckons! Instead of insisting that creationism be taught with biology, or that evolution be abolished from schools, or non-scientific mumbo-jumbo be taught, how about adding "Christian Theology" as an elective alternative to natural biology? That way "balance" is served, as well as choice. Parents who want their children to be educated will be served, and parents who want to subject their children to daily repitition of what they hear on Sunday will be served too. The problem there, though, is eventually in the interest of "balance", they'll probably have to teach "Islamic Theology" as well. I don't personally see that as a problem, but those whiney folks who don't like evolution will probably whine even louder about that.
Just Another Example Of The Strange Times In Which We Live
Now of course I have no idea who really sarted this blog - could be a bunch of mullahs, could be a group of concerned students. But the interesting thing to me is that we have now reached the point where it's conceivable that people feel the need to start a blog to advocate against being invaded.
In other news, I'm going home early today to shoot my neighbor's dog because yesterday it growled at me and I'm afraid it might bite me.
Update: After deep thought, I have decided that instead of shooting my neighbor's dog, I will instead shoot my neighbor, take his dog under my wing and subject it to the Woodhouse Way of dog training.