Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just some of the reasons why I admire Tom Stoppard.
Stoppard strikes me as an inveterately bookish man, one more passionately taken up with the life of the mind than with his aversion to being mistaken for a Serious Issues kind of playwright would indicate. Many years ago, in an article in The Sunday Times of London, Stoppard noted: “Some writers write because they burn with a cause which they further by writing about it. I burn with no causes. I cannot say that I write with any social objective. One writes because one loves writing, really.” In the almost 40 years since he made this remark, Stoppard has moved toward exhibiting a greater show of ideological esprit de corps — he took up the cudgels on behalf of Vaclav Havel when he was imprisoned in the late 70s and wrote a play during the same period that explored the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor” — but he continues to remain relatively aloof from the fray. Among other things, he has made no bones about his conservative temperament (when Margaret Thatcher came to power, he was one of the few among Britain’s left-leaning intelligentsia to see light at the end of the tunnel), which has led some observers to dismiss him as elitist. What is clear is that unlike, say, David Hare or the latter-day Harold Pinter, Stoppard is unwilling to hand down moral pronouncements by way of his plays about the absolute rightness or wrongness of one position or cause over another.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My appearance on WRKO's PunditRadio on November 19 is now available for listening online. Kevin and Gregg are excellent hosts and are all over the map literally in who they can get on the show.
Just as I was beginning to lose hope...finally Dawkins' book gets the review it really deserves.
(Sorry...no one here but us moderates.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is it me...or is Mark Steyn channelling Richard Dawkins? Or is Dawkins channelling Mark Steyn? In this case, they make a perfect mix.
Once again, it is becoming more dangerous to be a friend of the United States than an enemy.
The always sobering Christopher Hitchens.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Much to my surprise, less than a year after the Dover decision, there's a new Inquisition out there.

And guess what? It ain't being launched by the Discovery Institute.

Ed Brayton, as tireless a blogger as there is on the importance of science education, is on the case:

...I reject the notion that belief in God, in and of itself, takes anything away from science education. Ken Miller is a theistic evolutionist. His scientific work is impeccable, as are his efforts in science education. Can Moran point to anything at all in Miller's scientific work that is "sloppy"? I doubt it. Can he point to anything at all in his work on science education, the multiple textbooks that he has authored on evolutionary biology, that is affected in any way whatsoever by his Christian faith? Again, I doubt it.

So what he's really arguing here is that despite Miller's successful work in the laboratory explaining molecular evolution and his astonishingly tireless work on behalf of sound science education all over the country, the mere fact that he believes in God somehow undermines the principles of science. Further, that I should be ashamed for not declaring Miller my enemy as he has. And if your bullshit detector isn't in overdrive right now, it must be broken.

All of this just reinforces my suspicions that we simply are not on the same team and are not working the same goal. My goal is to protect science education. Moran's goal is to protect his atheism against any and all religious impulse, even if held by people who are excellent scientists and defenders of science education. And as his team pursues their goal they seek nothing less than a purge of the most valuable members of my team as we work to achieve ours.

There are people on my team working to protect science education that do not meet his ideological litmus tests. They believe in God, and therefore no matter how tirelessly they work on behalf of science education, they must be declared the enemy. But as I told Larry a few weeks ago, if you think that Ken Miller, Keith Miller, Howard Van Till, Glenn Morton, Wes Elsberry, Rob Pennock and many others are the enemy, then you simply are not on my team. You're playing a whole different game and it's one I have no interest in playing. I'll stick with my team.

[Emphasis mine]
Me too. Need I point out that many of these self-declared Torquemadas of the new Inquisition boast...how shall we say...thinner resumes than the religious scientists they condemn?
Two posts with some interesting facts.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's too bad that Dan Shaughnessy Watch is closing down. But lest we forget...I'm posting today's final offering to remember just how dreadful a journalist the Boston Globe's "top" sports writer really is:

The CHB outdoes himself today, flip-flopping all over the sports page like a netted cod. He criticizes the Red Sox for overspending for Daisuke Matsuzaka while also arguing that the Sox are finally waking up to the "fact" they need to "win now." The piece epitomizes everything that is wrong with Dan Shaughnessy:

His problem with facts:
*“The Red Sox just spent $51.1 million for the right to negotiate with a player.” Wrong. The Red Sox didn’t spend anything to negotiate with him. They pay only if he signs. Try reading Nick Carfado, Dan-o.

*“One year later, the Contreras contretemps was followed by the Alex Rodriguez Valentine's Day fiasco.” Since that “fiasco,” the Red Sox have been to the playoffs twice and won a World Series – one more than A-Rod’s Yankees.

His incoherent babble:
*He complains about the dollar figures tossed around, but then acknowledges that its the right move. "The figures are absolutely staggering." ... "We will resist the temptation here to trace Contreras's disappointing career with the Yankees and wonder if that fate could find Matsuzaka." ... "[T]he urgency is back on Yawkey Way and this can only be a good thing ... "

His racism:
*“That would send the Dice Man (D-Mat? We badly need a nickname for this guy) …” Why? Because Dan finds it hard to pronounce anything more complicated than Whitey MacPaddy.

His failing memory:
*“The 2006 Red Sox suffered an unspeakable spate of injuries, but their dysfunctional roster was woefully equipped for land mines encountered in the second half of the season.” Let's recall what Shaughnessy wrote on April 3, 2006: “[T]hese 2006 Red Sox are a new-look team, stressing defense, pitching, and boredom … the Idiot culture is gone and has been replaced by an organizational professionalism that would make Boss Steinbrenner proud.

*On that same day, he also predicted the Sox would win the AL East: “[M]any experts … dismiss the Red Sox as a noncontender and perhaps a third-place team in the vaunted American League East. … That opinion is not shared here. … It says here this is the year the Red Sox finally vault over the Yankees and win the AL East outright for the first time since 1995 (ah, the Kevin Kennedy years).” Dan, get thee to a neurogolist.

His hypocrisy:
"Boston's sad, sloppy September was little more than extended spring training (at whopping big league prices)." Right, like the Boston Globe cuts subscription prices every time they have a layoff.

Tuck this away. The CHB writes, “A Red Sox starting rotation of Matsuzaka, Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, and Tim Wakefield looks pretty good.” Let’s remember this when, in the midst of a three-game losing streak in June, The CHB spends a good 40 inches of column space bitching about how the Sox management should have known better than to bet the season on a rotation made up primarily of guys who had either never started in the majors or are old enough to be dead.

And a quick farewell. It’s nonsense like this that a little more than a year ago spurred me to launch this column. All good things end, however, and this is one. I am officially retiring this site. Thanks to everyone who read and commented, especially Jenny, who carried this place for the past several months.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and Dan will realize it’s time for him to go too.

Hey, we can wish, right?

(btw--CHB is courtesy of Carl Everett who dubbed him "curly haired boyfriend".)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

George Will gets it right:
About $2.6 billion was spent on the 468 House and Senate races. Scandalized? Don't be. Americans spend that much on chocolate every two months. But although Republicans had more money, its effectiveness was blunted because Democrats at last practiced what they incessantly preach to others -- diversity. Diversity of thought, no less: Some of their winners even respect the Second Amendment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Republicans in Congress got what they deserve. And here at home, that's a good thing. Still, I feel bound to quote this in full, should two years from now or later we have cause to return to this assessment, one that I feel more than possible:

Those people who were serious about criticizing Rumsfeld (as opposed to those who were just vindictive or crazy) did so because they wanted our military to be doing more, not less, but does anyone seriously think that a Democratic Congress is going approve expenditures for the extra 50-70,000 troops that his serious critics say would be required to actually win in Iraq?

As a practical matter, I'm not sure how Iraq is possibly salvageable at this point given our current political situation. Zal is apparently on his way out, not wanting to be scapegoated as the man who lost Iraq and the real travesty is that he will be unlikely to receive half the official honors that Bremer and Tenet got despite his far more capable service to our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once the Baker Commission comes out, the administration is going to be under overwhelming pressure to implement the suggestions of the "bipartisan" commission and their failure to do so is just going to give the Democrats one more issue to run on to a pliable media and (near as I can determine) general public. Sooner or later, Baker's recommendations will likely be implemented, at which point al-Qaeda will be left in control of Anbar, Salahaddin, and possibly Babil and Diyala as well. They won't have any oil, but they'll have their failed state and that will give them a base from which to strike throughout the rest of the Middle East. Whether or not they are able to work out a manageable detente with Muqtada al-Sadr (who I expect will likely seize the southern part of the country), they won't be able to conquer his territory nor vice versa, meaning that we will still have a failed terrorist state made up of what was central Iraq to deal with. Oh, and a lot of innocent Iraqis are going to die, probably in the tens of thousands. But no one here will care about them, just like no one ever cares about the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese and Cambodians who died when we abandoned Vietnam, but the important thing is that we'll all feel that much better. The truly ironic thing is that Iraq is likely to be held up as an example of why "Arabs/Muslims can't handle democracy," because to believe otherwise would be to admit that we should have done more, fought harder, and worked better to save them. And we can't have that. It goes without saying that if this is going to be the result that we never should have gone into Iraq in the first place.
The loss of Iraq is almost certain to coincide with a major push in Afghanistan-Pakistan and having defeated the United States, al-Qaeda is likely to regard the momentum as being with them. My own assessment is that Pakistan is likely to fall (probably in a palace coup) before al-Qaeda and the Taliban make any serious headway in Afghanistan. That may preserve the Karzai government, but it will also turn bin Laden into a nuclear power. The only good news that I can take away from this is that if, not when, this occurs the United States is unlikely to lapse into a "Blame America First" or "Iraq Syndrome." We won't lift a finger to save Somalia (now almost certainly lost) or Iraq, but the fall of Pakistan is likely to awaken the general population from their slumber. If not now, then certainly once the nukes start flying, whether at India or at the United States in Europe. It also now goes without saying that the US will not prevent the emergence of a nuclear Iran or take anything more than token gestures regarding North Korea. One thing I want to be clear on is that this isn't the apocalypse and al-Qaeda is not going to take over the Middle East in 2 years but that they will make a great deal of headway there if the US is emasculated in the interim as a result of domestic politics, particularly if the legislative branch now treats the executive as though it is part of an enemy state.

A word on Europe. As you are no doubt seeing in the media coverage, much of the European punditocracy is now giddy that the US has rejected the evils of Bushitleretardespotheocrat and all his works. While this is likely to make American tourist trips and cocktail parties more enjoyable, it is also nothing short of meaningless because, as we have seen over the last several years, Europe wants to be treated as a great power but does not wish to exert the necessary effort to actually be one. Our cooperation with them on intelligence and law enforcement matters would continue regardless of the event because they must [cooperate] for their own self-preservation, but they will not support sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism or increased troop commitments to Iraq or Afghanistan. In the case of the latter, they simply do not have the troops to send or the logistics to sustain them. . . .

The next 2 years are likely to suck, but I could always be wrong and the Democrats could always develop an uncharacteristic amount of sanity.

Here's hoping this guy is wrong....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A new short story of mine, "Milk of Malie" has just been published in the Fall issue of Doublethink. Available online here.

The goal is to sell a few more so I can approach a publisher interested in a debut collection.