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Friday, October 29, 2004

Evolution and Creationist Propaganda 

This post by Greg at the Talent Show gives us the cover and first page of the cover story of the new National Geographic magazine.

It's a beauty. A smackdown to the regressive folks who believe that God created man 6000 years ago out of nothing, and then fashioned woman from man's rib.

I'm not saying that all religious people are regressive, but those who use their fable to try to staunch science are regressive, and though they have a right to say what they (wrongly) think, nobody has to listen to them. It's great to see National Geographic laying down the law...

The title of the cover story?
Was Darwin Wrong?
The answer is provided in huge block text on the first page of the article:
No.
Damn straight.

UPDATE: From the department of making myself absolutely clear.

I don't think it's wrong to be religious. I am agnostic, not atheist. I think freedom of religion is extremely important. I also think that freedom of science and attention to truth are extremely importnat. It is only when religious people argue against sound science based on their beliefs without anything but their beliefs to back them up that I think they are wrong.

My parents are both very faithful people, and active in their Southern Baptist church. They also understand that Evolution is not a flimsy theory to be rebutted by spouting bible verses. They are not wrong.

"Creation scientists", who use religion as a cudgel to beat science, are wrong.

I hope I've made myself clear.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Voted 

I went and voted today. Initially, I went to the Fiesta north of the law school, but I didn't vote there. The line was fairly long and moving slowly. As I stood in the moderately long, slowly moving line, I realized that I didn't have my voter registration card, my license says Houston, and I wasn't in my precinct. I'm not sure if those things add up to "you don't get to vote," but I decided not to wait and find out.

I went home and got my voter registration card and then parked on the drag to vote at the UGL (that's the Undergraduate Library on UT campus for my imaginary out-of-town readers). Well, actually, I parked on the drag to get a cheesesteak and then realized I was right by the UGL, but for the sake of this moving post about the youth vote and sharply divided partisan energy, I'm going to pretend I went there on purpose.

The point is the line was a mile long, and the people were actually excited. I'm a politics junky and I really do think that civic action and committment are a responsibilities we all share. To see people active and informed is always nice. But I've been here at UT for 3 elections now, one of them for president, and I have never seen it like that. There were steadily about 100 people in line, and everyone was waiting patiently and talking politics.

I know, I know...it's a college campus. But I really am getting the feeling that a lot is hanging on this election, and a lot more people are involved than we've seen in a long time. That's beautiful, but all of these people are very sharply divided.

I'm worried that if the election is close, and it is won by lawsuit by either side, that division will become even more stark and intense.

UPDATE: Edited to remove cartoon scariness - I can't think of a way of saying "shit might get outta hand" that doesn't sound retarded...so I'll leave it at "shit might get outta hand," and that's a bad thing. I like my shit well in-hand.

Kerry and Nation Building 

I've been lazy about responding to Jeff H. on Kerry and democracy building.

Here's a bit from his book, reposted at The Talent Show. It focuses more on open economies and stability, which may be exactly what Jeff is talking about. Of course, from where I'm sitting, that's just realism in nation-building and not pessimism, as some might suggest.

Here's a post by Matt Y. that in its own luke-warm way responds to the same challenge that Jeff H. put to me.

I think the big difference between the two is comes down to realism. I don't think Kerry would have gone into Iraq on the triple bank shot domino effect theory of democracy spreading and nation building. That's a good thing to me. I don't think it's going to work (though I'd love to be proven wrong on that count). So if that kind of faith in transformative democracy through carpet-bombing and regime change is what is required to put up appropriate stats in the "really, really digs democracy" column, then Kerry wouldn't break any records on that stat and neither would I.

If, however, nurturing democracy through reasoned diplomacy, using intelligence and the military to strike against terrorists when fortuitous, cutting off funding to terrorist organizations, sanctioning and carrying a big stick when it comes to those states that support terrorism, and only going to war when it's absolutely necessary sounds like a more realistic approach to you, then maybe Kerry's a reasonable alternative to waging this war.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hobbitses 

This is sweet!

They've discovered a species of mini-humans that lived on this remote island that were around as recently as 18,000 years ago.
One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.

This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.
Science is fun.

If you are a Creationist, please ignore this post, as the timeline and mention of evolution may lead to the undermining of your willful ignorance.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Slate Endorsements 

Via Kevin Drum:

Hitchens and Kaus endorse John Kerry.

Now THAT'S confusing.

I'll read the endorsements later, but that really surprises me. They're like the dual heads of the "I swear I'm a liberal, but all liberals are retarded!" monster.

Eminem 

Damn...and I thought he was apolitical.

Check out the new Eminem video.

The Rehnquist Thing 

I find the whole "what if Rehnquist steps down before January" line of thinking to be a little too morbid, despite it's relevance.

As Salon puts it:
If Rehnquist were to resign or -- how to put this gently? -- otherwise leave the court before Jan. 20, Bush would have the constitutional power to nominate someone to replace him.
And as I respond:

The man has thyroid cancer and several other severe health problems. If he steps down or "otherwise leave[s] the court," it will be a sad day because whether you agree with the man or not, he's been a good Chief Justice.

Sometimes politics ought to take a sideline. It's been harder for me to make a decision on when that time is since Bush has been in power, because his political operatives don't seem to draw that line anywhere, and my baser instinct is to return the favor.

But in this case...let the Chief Justice make his own decisions about his health and try to battle his condition to the best of his ability while providing support, instead of speculation on the potential political fall-out from his possible death.

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