Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If God Dies In Space, Will Anyone Hear God Scream?

I woke up this morning, devoid of caffeine as I had not yet cracked open my Dew, and lo and behold over on Sadly, No!, this awful Youtube clip greeted me. For anyone who doesn't want to mop up their brain because it leaked out of your ear, the video is a very unconvincing attempt at supposedly refuting astronomy. 'Cause, you know, God created the universe, and the eeeevil Scientists didn't calculate for that. Or something.

I'm sorry. (Dabs at ear with napkin.) Where was I? Oh, I don't remember the full stupid of this video, because thankfully, once the grogginess wore off, so too did the haze of idiocy.

But reading through the comments and such, I started thinking. (Dangerous, I know!) The whole creation story (and that is what it is, a story) in and of itself does not refute evolution at all. Really, the story of creation in Genesis doesn't exclude evolution, though in the Bible, it's all created by God and evolution is adaptations. There was light, there was planets,there was things in the sea, there was creatures on land, there was man. Of course, given the time frame of when the story was told and eventually written down, I wouldn't expect people at that time to know as much as we do now. A friend and I were discussing this over the weekend, and really, there's nothing in it that wouldn't loosely match up with the general framework of evolution (just my opinion, and in a very general sense). Of course, I was laughing at the Creationist she stumbled on, and she was of the opinion that there's two sides to this "debate". No, no there isn't really, I tried to tell her, but she didn't believe me.

But that got me to thinking about a passage in one of my favorite books, 1984. Here is the passage that I am reminded of reading through the comments at Sadly, No!:

"But the world istelf is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny - helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited."

"Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness."

"But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals - mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of."

"Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing."

"But the whole universe is outside us. Look at the stars! Some of them are a million light-years away. They are out of our reach forever."

"What are the stars?" said O'Brien indifferently. "They are bits of fire a few kilometers away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the center of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it."

To me, their arguements are similar, only separated by the use of God. Of course, at this point in the book, Winston is being tortured.

Your Religious GOP: They didn't just read 1984, they studied it!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Recommendation from a fine businessman

President Bush, State of the Union, 2007:

When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look -- and tonight we need only look above to the gallery....

After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others -- producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: "I believe it's the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe." And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur -- Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)


More than a half-million Chinese-made products were recalled Thursday, including "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Baby Einstein toys, because they contain dangerous levels of lead.

Coin-shaped "Pirates of the Caribbean" flashlights and soft, textured Baby Einstein blocks were among the 555,200 products recalled, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced.

You're doing a heckuva job, Julie. (And Disney, to be fair.)

While we're at it, why didn't Bush ever tout his own entrepreneurial success in that speech? Surely, it would've fit right in with those others.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


This is a very interesting presentation regarding changes in the world since 1960. Enjoy!

There is also an update to the original presentation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

You keep using that word....

If I might borrow TPM's video...

I especially like how, at around 4:45 left to play, it seems he gets confused whether to say "Petraeus" or "Betray-us".

But, on a slightly more serious note:

And tonight, our moral and strategic imperatives are one: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours....

Eight months ago, we adopted a new strategy to meet that objective, including a surge in U.S. forces that reached full strength in June. This week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified before Congress about how that strategy is progressing....

The premise of our strategy is that securing the Iraqi population is the foundation for all other progress....

Anbar province is a good example of how our strategy is working....

General Petraeus also recommends that in December we begin transitioning to the next phase of our strategy in Iraq.

I don't care how many times you keep using that word, it still does not mean what you think it means.

Nothing he talked about amounts to a "strategy" yet. Piling on more troops is not a "strategy", not even a "tactic". It's a relic of good old attrition warfare.

Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late. They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to al Qaeda. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win.

Sounds like he's making his excuses in advance on the off chance we ever catch bin Laden, or even if he just eventually dies of natural causes: "See? We finally got him, seventeen years later! That's not too late. Right? Let that be a lesson to the evildoers in the world! Freeance! Peance!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Promiscuous cheetahs!

Somewhat off the beaten path for this blog, but a few months ago, while reading a book, probably one of Dawkins' more biology/genetics books, it popped into my head that, given that cheetahs had passed through a severe population bottleneck a long time ago, I would guess that they would probably be less choosy about their mates than they had been before the bottleneck. My thinking was, with so few potential partners around, those who were still picky would be less likely to meet up with another cheetah up to their standards, and therefore less likely to bear a litter that season. So you might end up with, well, promiscuous cheetahs:

For female cheetahs in the Serengeti, the call of the wild is just too hard to resist as new research shows nearly half of their litters are made up of cubs with different fathers.

And while the serial infidelities of the females does ensure a broader genetic mix to help the survival of the endangered species, it comes at a cost, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said on Wednesday.

Chalk up another one for evolution!

Well, technically, it isn't exactly the effect I was predicting. There's a distinction between pickiness and faithfulness, after all. But I do think it connects rather well, and could be explained in much the same manner.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reasons for voting against

My take on why Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama decided to vote against the war funding bill, despite some prior ambiguity:

It certainly seems apparent that President Bush is hoping to just wear out the clock on Iraq, and be able to pass the problem on to the next President. I suspect people at the GOP might even be expecting the next President to be a Democrat, and plan accordingly, presenting whoever wins with a "poison pill" writ large, or a flaming bag of dog turd on their doorstep, if you prefer that metaphor. Whichever reasoning they might follow, they don't want to pull out a significant number of troops before the next election at the very least, almost as certainly before the next inauguration.

Because whenever we do start pulling out, yes, there will almost certainly be a bloodbath. And it won't look good for whoever's running things at the time. But it's going to happen sooner or later. Why not just put it off for a year or two, and who cares about the extra casualties in the interim? And maybe by then a Democrat can take the blame; they're probably hoping that that might help them recapture the Presidency in 2012 (assuming a Democrat wins in 2008), and Congress in 2010.

So the Senators might be looking at this, and thinking, if they are successful in their respective bids, that they're the ones who will be stuck holding the bag. And even if they don't win, either in the primaries or in the general election, Obama will be up for re-election in 2010, and Clinton in 2012. So they would have good reason for wanting to get it over with sometime before 2009.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Submitted (almost) without comment

Carter: Anti-Bush remarks 'careless or misinterpreted'

Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto, with Bush at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, said Monday: "I think it just highlights the importance of being careful in choosing your words. I'll just leave it at that."

Perhaps Fratto should have chosen his words more carefully.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Parsing, parsing, parsing

It's not so much that I like parsing and splitting hairs so finely (though I confess I do), as that with this crew in the Administration, they force you to, in order to figure out what they're really saying and meaning. From yesterday's White House press briefing (via Glenn Greenwald):

Q But you had the Acting Attorney General at the time saying, in regards to what Inspectors General -- the acting -- chief law enforcement officer in the country is saying in 2004, I've got problems with this, and then you've got the Chief of Staff and the Counsel, Alberto Gonzales at the time, going -- and according to James Comey, they were trying to take advantage of a sick man who was in intensive care.

MR. SNOW: Trying to take advantage of a sick man -- because he had an appendectomy, his brain didn't work?

Note that this response is coming from Press Secretary Tony Snow, of whom Wikipedia summarizes:

On 2007 March 27, the White House announced that the [abdominal] growth was cancerous and had metastasized. [6][7][8] In Snow's absence, the press briefings began to be covered by Deputy Dana Perino. On April 21, 2007, Snow made an appearance at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, where he introduced a joking tape by David Letterman. Snow returned to work on April 30, 2007.

Funny how a little thing like surgery can knock you out for a day or two, isn't it, Tony? Ha, ha. What's that? A whole month and then some? Gee, why were you slacking off for so long?

Added: Also, for the record, it was Ashcroft's gall bladder, not his appendix, that he was in for.

Q Yes, "I was very upset, I was angry." He was in intensive care at GW. "I thought I had just witnessed an effort" --

MR. SNOW: I --

Q -- let me just tell you -- "I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man." Okay? Did any White House officials come and try to take advantage of you -- I mean, that's really not applicable in terms of this.

MR. SNOW: You know what, Ed --

Q They were trying to take advantage of him, according to James Comey.

MR. SNOW: Ed, I'm just telling you, I don't know anything about the conversations. I've also told you the relevant thing, which is, you wanted to ask from a substantive point of view, were there protections in terms of the terrorist surveillance program -- the answer is yes. It had multiple layers of review, both within the Department of Justice and the National Security Agency. Jim Comey can talk about whatever reservations he may have had, but the fact is that there were strong protections in there....

And what of the fact that Attorney General Gonzales almost flatly denied (with weasel words) that anyone within the Department of Justice had any such reservations, back in February of 2006? (via Think Progress' Peter Swire)

SCHUMER: I concede all those points. Let me ask you about some specific reports.

It's been reported by multiple news outlets that the former number two man in the Justice Department, the premier terrorism prosecutor, Jim Comey, expressed grave reservations about the NSA program and at least once refused to give it his blessing. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, here's the response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements.

There has not been any serious disagreement -- and I think this is accurate -- there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations which I cannot get into.

[LH: You can't get into the disagreements, the other matters, or the operations? I wish that sentence made clear to which object the clause applied. See amphiboly at the Fallacy Files.]

I will also say...

SCHUMER: But there was some -- I'm sorry to cut you off -- but there was some dissent within the administration. And Jim Comey did express, at some point -- that's all I asked you -- some reservations.

GONZALES: The point I want to make is that, to my knowledge, none of the reservations dealt with the program that we're talking about today. They dealt with operational capabilities that we're not talking about today.

[LH: It seems to make some sense, if Comey rushed to the hospital over some other "program" than the Terrorist Surveillance Program per se.

SCHUMER: I want to ask you, again, about -- we have limited time.

GONZALES: Yes, sir.

SCHUMER: It's also been reported that the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, respected lawyer and professor at Harvard Law School, expressed reservations about the program. Is that true?

GONZALES: Senator, rather than going individual by individual, let me just say that I think the differing views that have been the subject of some of these stories did not deal with the program that I'm here testifying about today.

SCHUMER: But you were telling us that none of these people expressed any reservations about the ultimate program, is that right?

GONZALES: Senator, I want to be very careful here, because, of course, I'm here only testifying about what the president has confirmed.

And with respect to what the president has confirmed, I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you're identifying had concerns about this program.

SCHUMER: There are other reports, I'm sorry to -- you're not giving me a yes-or-no answer here. I understand that.

Newsweek reported that several Department of Justice lawyers were so concerned about the legal basis for the NSA program that they went so far as to line up private lawyers. Do you know if that's true?

GONZALES: I do not know if that's true.

SCHUMER: Now, let me just ask you a question here.

You mentioned earlier that you had no problem with Attorney General Ashcroft, someone else -- I didn't want to ask you about him; he's your predecessor -- people have said have doubts. But you said that you had no problem with him coming before this committee and testifying when Senator Specter asked, is that right?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Technology Keeps Getting Better

You know, I had to read The Rude Pundit's post twice because I didn't understand what he was saying and so mad about...until I realized that car contained a living GW Bush and NOT a cardboard cutout. Although both pictures look like it, the one where the worker isn't smiling certainly looks more cartoonish and one dimensional than the other. So when did they start developing cameras that could capture the essence of your soul?

Friday, February 02, 2007

im in ur briges....

Remember, people of America, the only thing we have to fear i—Oh my God! Is that a stoplight? It could be hiding a bomb!!

Seriously, though, are we becoming such a nation of imbeciles that not only do we confuse a little circuitry with a bomb, but then we have to blame all the fuss on the people who left the circuitry around? Even aside from the fact that it should have been obvious to anybody getting close enough to suspect that these were bombs, that they weren't, what about all the bomb-sniffing dogs and equipment we keep hearing about? If they couldn't establish that these weren't bombs within, I think, about two hours, are they really that useful?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Self-quote of the day

The opposite of "natural" is "civilized".

(With respect to rhetoric sometimes pushed by people claiming that some behaviour, usually something "un-Christian", is also "unnatural".)

Welcome, Komrads!

Per the New York Times:

President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Political officers, anyone? Could they be much more obvious about it?

Don't turn around, oh oh
Der Kommissar's in town, oh oh
And if he talks to you
And you don't know why
You say your life
Is gonna make you die...

Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

He's at it again

VP Cheney was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer Wednesday. It's a pretty interesting interview overall, and the Vice President goes rather unhinged for a while. But I couldn't help noticing that one particular phrase popped up yet again (emphasis added):

BLITZER: The criticism is that you took your eye off the ball by going into Iraq and in effect reducing the focus of attention on al Qaeda and bin Laden.

CHENEY: It's just not true. I've heard that charge -- it's simply not true, Wolf. The fact of the matter is we can do more than one thing at a time and we have. And we've been very successful with going after al Qaeda. They're still out there, they're still a formidable force. But they're not nearly as formidable as they once were, in terms of numbers and so forth.

That reminded me of these hoary chestnuts I dug up from an old post. I guess since it had been almost a year, it was time to revisit and revise.

"It's important, always, to work to make sure you get information out like this as quickly as possible," McClellan said. "But it's also important to make sure that the first priority is focused where it should be...."

"I can't let this comment stand," Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration "can do more than one thing at a time...."

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I really don't because-- and I know we can do more than one thing at a time. We have got special operators and capable intelligence folks on the hunt all the time....

Gee, you'd almost think they were a bit touchy and nervous about their ability to do more than one thing at a time, wouldn't you? Nah, that's just crazy unhinged Bush Derangement Syndrome talking.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SotU Snark

Just a little tidbit out of last night's State of the Union address that jumped out at me as sounding a bit odd. Near the end of his speech, as he was wrapping things up, Bush addressed the country as a whole, and said, "We've been through a lot together." Both my roommate and I had the same thought—"Is he breaking up with us, or what?"

I just wish he were.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fixing the Internets

With all due respect to Sadly, No!:

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which he proposes to pay off with your money. — G. Gordon Liddy

A neocon is someone who feels a great debt from his fellow man, which he proposes to pay off with your children's money. — J. Owens

You're welcome.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why context matters

Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a. Instapundit, a.k.a. Instaputz, a.k.a. Mobius Dick, wrote today:

It's as if the only good Republican President is a dead Republican President.

Unfortunately, he wrote it in the context of:

HOWARD KURTZ ON GERALD FORD REVISIONISM: "Another way of putting that is that many journalists, three decades later, are admitting that they misjudged Ford and were wrong about the Nixon pardon."
They said nice things about Reagan after he died, too, despite hating him in office, and they're already gearing up to do the same thing with George H.W. Bush, who was treated quite unfairly during his term. (See, e.g., the supermarket scanner story). It's as if the only good Republican President is a dead Republican President.

so he doesn't get full credit. Still, it's nice to see a nugget of truth crop up in there for once.

Via Blue Texan at Unclaimed Territory.