Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why I'm a Libertarian

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin:
"You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don't want," Martin said, "but why should you have to?"
Via The Corner.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

42.

Doesn't seem right somehow.

I mean, 42 is a great number. And while I'm sure I thought 42 was old when I was 21, it seems right in the heart of useful adulthood from this perspective.

But I think it's time for some changes.

I can't become a biological father. Just won't happen without some kind of scientific miracle. (I'm not including cloning; nothing strikes me as less appealing than raising a copy of myself. Make of that what you will, hypothetical reader.) But if my new wife and I adopted a newborn today, I'd be 60 on the child's 18th birthday.

And with the way I'm taking care of my corporeal self, I don't think I'm going to make 60.

I didn't drink until I turned 27. There's alcoholism running through my family, and alcohol always scared me. But I found out about my infertility in the previous year, and I decided what the hell, that gene (assuming it's a genetic thing) wasn't going to be passed, and I'd see what the fuss was about. So on that birthday I had a margarita.

Well, it's 15 years later, and I drink too much. I like whiskey a lot; I like the taste, I like the effect. I don't like the next morning, and I don't like the feeling that I'm not as sharp, generally, as once I was.

So my present to myself this year is a wagon. Wish me luck with it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Science education, and why we're all boned

From George Will, today:
The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking reelection were defeated. This expressed the community's wholesome exasperation with the board's campaign to insinuate religion, in the guise of "intelligent design" theory, into high school biology classes, beginning with a required proclamation that evolution "is not a fact."

But it is. [The rest deleted, but worth reading for other reasons than the rant I'm about to deliver.]

Okay, everyone say it with me now: Evolution is a theory. Theories are never true; theories are never "facts".

This does not mean that "intelligent design" is a true as evolution, any more than it means that ID is as blue as evolution.

Evolution, broadly speaking, is supported by an amazing amount of data, both observational and experimental. (Remember Medel? Peas?) Don't know much about Intelligent Design, except that it seems to be just a bunch of justifications for the strong anthropic principal, which isn't a theory, because it isn't testable.

So what I'm ticked off about here is that Mr. Will neglects the fundamental point. Start debating science and theology as if they're the same type of things, and you end up diminishing both.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Have you stopped beating your wife" Journalism

From the Associated Press:

Judges Attest to Alito's Conservativism

Nov 3, 11:43 AM (ET)

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON (AP) - Judges who have served with Samuel Alito say he's unquestionably a conservative who would push the Supreme Court to the right, likely favoring new abortion restrictions that retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor would not.

Five current or former judges on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals interviewed by The Associated Press described Alito as thoughtful, intelligent and fair. They said he has great respect for precedent-setting decisions and none of them offered that he would be likely to vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Now, paragraph (1) of the story seems custom-crafted to scare the hell out of anyone to the left of, say, William F. Buckley, Jr. And then, presumably out of a misguided fealty to something called "truth", paragraph (2) undercuts the basic message of paragraph (1).

Why did the writer or editor bother? Why act like they're not choosing sides and spinning hard? It's insulting to anyone paying attention, and unnecessary for anyone who isn't.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Unhinged": Read the reviews and you don't need to read the book

Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild

Case in point:
Reviewer: Sgt. Keith Cooper (Richmond, VA.) - See all my reviews

More hate-filled rightwing propaganda from yet another shameless Republican hack.

These books are all the same: boring, badly written propaganda and filled with same LIES again and again. I'm a Marine Coprs vet (first Gulf War), and I'm sick of these rightwing traitors spreading un-American propaganda.

Malkin is a disgrace. Skip this vomitous book.

Semper Fi,

Keith Cooper

And Amazon -- stop deleting messages that criticize this book. What are you afraid of? Why are Malkin and her fellow rightwing nuts such cowards that they can't take criticism?

Well, I would guess that Amazon is deleting reviews that aren't reviews, but are instead ad hominem attacks on the author. If you can't tell the difference, Sgt. Cooper, you shouldn't be writing book reviews.

But back to the original point, I remember when I was just a young'un that Liberals prided themselves on superior reasoning as well as superior morality. The idea back then, as I recall, was that the former produced the latter.

There are negative reviews that argue that the examples Malkin cites in her book aren't representative of Liberal behavior; that's a rational argument that can be defended or attacked. Unfortunately, just from a count of negative reviews, the froth-at-the-mouth crowd seems to outnumber the rationalists by a good 10-to-1. (I'm including the people who gave the book five stars and then proceeded to equate Republicans to Nazis. So clever, that.)

(Also, it's interesting to note how few of the negative reviewers seem to have read anything other than evil Rethuglican books....)

Bottom line, I think it more than fair when "Liberals" take "Conservatives" to task for "our" looney anti-rationalists. But Liberal-folks, there are a lot of nuts to go around, and as long as "Fuck 'em" Kos is deep in the DNC's councils, you're not going to sell me on the superiority of either your intellects or your hearts.