Friday, March 30, 2007

Rod Dreher:
I'm just saying that it'd be smarter for the SMU professors to engage the ID people in a public forum and show the audience why the ID people are wrong. Refusing even to talk to them is not causing any fewer people to believe in ID. If ID is as dangerous as the SMU profs say, then they should not hesitate to take it on and try to debunk it.
I love Rod, and particularly respect his truly courageous coverage of the clergy-abuse scandal and all the heat he took for his recent decision to join the Orthodox Church as a result of his disillusionment, but... he doesn't know just how often scientists have already, patiently repeatedly, debunked the assertions of ID proponents.
Why is it so many self-described Christians are complete chowder-skulls about science? PZ Myers has a perfect example here. And he's right to make a big case of it. The credulity of many Christians when it comes to the hogwash put out by PR outfits like the Discovery Institute, is one of the most depressing things about the modern 'debate' between science and religion.
Clive James gives a great reassessment of Sartre, whom Paul Johnson once headlined as "a little ball of fur and ink."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

David Warren asks, deep down, do we even want to stop Iran?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oh yeah.
Tell me .. how do you counter the "conservatives are ignorant" argument, and how do you manage to recruit more people to the cause of lower taxes, less government and more individual responsibility when you have people running around loose calling themselves conservatives, getting elected to office as conservatives, and running websites as conservatives all the while telling us that the earth does not spin on its axis and does not revolve around the Sun .. and that everything in the known universe revolves around the Earth?
Yep. Geocentrism. Alive and well. In the Stupid Party.
Ross Douthat straightens out Jonah Goldberg.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Master cinematographer (and sometime Hammer Films director) Freddie Francis passed away on March 20th.
Some of the films, such as The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), were anything but successful on any level, but Nightmare (1963) and Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1964) saw him more nearly on form, as did The Skull and The Psychopath (both 1965), Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Tales from the Crypt (1971 - a big commercial success), The Creeping Flesh (1972, particularly notable for one of Peter Cushing's best performances), and The Ghoul (1975), produced by his son, Kevin. He also occasionally wrote and directed under the pseudonym of Ken Barnett.

Much of his success he (probably rightly) attributed to the fact that "these films are 99% visual ... most of the films that I do, these so-called psychological thrillers, depend on the ability to tell one's stories with the camera." (He considered The Skull was one of his best films visually.) But there were some pretty disastrous productions and he returned full time to his first love, cinematography, when he shot, in stunning black and white, David Lynch's Elephant Man. He re-established his cinematographic reputation with such films as Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Edward Zwick's Glory (1989), for which he won his second Oscar, Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear (1991), for which he also shot the model work in the US and David Lynch's the Straight Story. He also shot two TV movies, The Executioner's Song (1982) and David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hot damn!
Publisher Houghton-Mifflin plans to announce today that Stephen King is editor of the 2007 edition of The Best American Short Stories, out in October. King says he read more than 400 stories and chose 20 for the book and an honor roll of 100 others that will be listed.
Do I have a chance, do I have a chance, oh please, please, do I have a chance this year?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

William Dembski, at it again. The question his antics bring to mind is not, how dumb does he think his opponents are that he might be able to get away with this. The question is...how much true contempt does he have for the people who support him?
MacUser gives Podiobooks the thumbs up.
(Let's see if I get more subscriptions...)
Rats. Just what I didn't want to know....

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sam Harris:
Ontological fancy footwork: All that business about God being "definitionally" the creator of the universe, outside of space and time, etc. just doesn't wash. The "marzipan at the center of the sun" is definitionally at the center of the sun. Does this mean there is marzipan at the center of the sun?
This is where materialists lose me. The analogy is so bad, I'm stupefied Harris doesn't see the difference. We can measure what's at the center of the sun, because it is part of the fabric of space and time that make up the known testable universe. And we can determine absolutely that there is no marzipan at the center of the sun. We cannot, however, determine absolutely whether anyone exists (or doesn't) independently of space and time, since, you know, you sort of need to be able to get your testing equipment outside space and time to do that.

Harris of course knows that, but like all materialists, just keeps insisting that questions about what exists independently of the universe "don't wash" and a stupid analogy is supposed to somehow convince us of that.

All it does, however, is show (yet again) the fundamental contempt that monomaniac materialists have for people who think there is more to the world than what can be recorded on a lab sheet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More good news:

More intelligence, for example. Where once tactical units were "scraping" for intelligence information, they now have "information overload," the general said. "After our guys are in the neighborhood for four or five days, the people realize they're not going to just leave them like we did in the past. Then they begin to come in with so much information on the enemy that we can't process it fast enough."

In intelligence work - the key to fighting irregular wars - commanders love excess.

And the tribal leaders in Sunni al Anbar Province, the general reports, "have had enough." Not only are the al Qaeda fighters causing civil disruption by fomenting sectarian violence and killing civilians, but on a more prosaic but practical side, al Qaeda is bad for business. "All of the sheiks up there are businessmen," Petraeus said. "They are entrepreneurial and involved in scores of different businesses. The presence of the foreign fighters is hitting them hard in the pocketbook and they are tired of it."


Monday, March 19, 2007

My article on Gene Wolfe is coming out in the April issue of First Things (subscription required). Jody Bottum gives it a nice plug here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Podiobooks just keeps making the news.

And, my traffic for Doctor Janeway is steadily increasing.
(It can't be long now before that studio calls with an offer...?)
Wise words from David Edelman:
The big shift in your self-perception comes when you actually make a commitment to your writing, not when someone finally writes you a check for it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

See? Mark Judge agrees with me. This is exactly what I'm talking about!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ross Douthat says the Bradley Foundation is wasting money on rich conservatives who don't really need it.

Sheesh.

Why don't they check out my site and write me a check?

(for example!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Well, it's a good thing Kurt Gödel is no longer around. Man, he wouldn't have stood a chance against awesome heavyweights like Dawkins and Harris.

Not.

Friday, March 09, 2007

More good news for thoughtful religious people (scientists and non-scientists alike) who don't believe that Charles Darwin is responsible for the ills of society.

What we're seeing here is the beginnings of a split between those who are open to a religious explanation for some natural phenomena -- but unwilling to throw science overboard -- and the intelligent design movement. We're also seeing the fruits of Dembski's journey from being someone with legitimate academic credentials to passport carrying member of the Crankosphere.

The statements by the Templeton Foundation and William Grassie mark the beginning of the end of serious consideration of intelligent design theory by mainstream religious thinkers. When added to the rejection of ID by the courts, voters, and news media, this development could well have devastating consequences for the ID movement.

More and more, I think, ID will be relegated to the same narrow niche occupied by fringe figures such as Ken Ham and Henry Morris. Their early hopes of breaking out of the creationist enclave to attract those outside the insular world of bible college and Christian academy, I think, are now past.

By the way, I wonder if Bill Dembski and Michael Behe are still proud of the role they played in Ann Coulter's latest screed?
Maverick Philosopher speaks for a lot of us:

I don't know about you, but I've had more than enough of this screeching bombthrower who does a disservice to conservatives and can only hurt our cause. Her latest outburst was to call John Edwards a "faggot." Her subsequent defense of her use of the term is lame and I won't waste time discussing it. Civility is a conservative virtue (Cf. Leftists and Civility) but this and numerous other offensive comments by Coulter show that she is not much of one. By behaving like a contemptible jackass, by not being reasonable or judicious, by her sophistry and contempt for her interlocutors, by being long on invective and short on argument, by her gaseous thought-poor hyperventilation, she supplies the Left with ammunition, reinforcing them in their usual notions that we conservatives are haters and fascists and racists and xenophobes.

It is quite obvious that her prime motivation is a desire for notoriety and a lust to make money from books and speaking engagements. And that too is contemptible. Coulter should be ostracized and one can only applaud the dropping of her column by more and more newspapers.

And please, I don't want to hear anyone defend Coulter by saying that lefties are worse. No doubt they are worse. But two wrongs don't make a right. And aren't we better than them?

Krauthammer says Bush shouldn't wait to pardon Libby.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Novak:

On Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" Tuesday night, super-lawyer David Boies said Fitzgerald never should have prosecuted Libby because there was no underlying criminal violation. Boies scoffed at Fitzgerald's contention that Libby had obstructed him from exposing criminal activity. Boies, who represented Al Gore in the 2000 election dispute, is hardly a Bush sympathizer. But neither is he a Democratic partisan trying to milk this obscure scandal.

George W. Bush lost control of this issue when he permitted a special prosecutor to make decisions that, unlike going after a drug dealer or mafia kingpin, turned out to be inherently political. It would have taken courage for the president to have aborted this process. It would require even more courage for him to pardon Scooter Libby now, not while he is walking out of the White House in January 2009.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

And the news in Iraq continues to improve:
The Iraqi people themselves are playing their role in the plan. Recent figures from U.S. officers in Baghdad show that the joint forces have been receiving an average of 250 security tips from civilians since the beginning of the operation, about twice previous figures. With help from a government-appointed committee, people in some Baghdad neighborhoods are returning occupied mosques to their original keepers and worshippers, and holding joint prayers between the two sects in mixed neighborhoods.
Excellent interview with Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden at SFRevue on the state of publishing, which contains (among many) this gem:
Well, I think I can safely say as a general principle that sometimes authors, once they reach a certain level of established success and realize that they really can just phone it in, will in fact do so [AYKB, Heinlein is dead now, but the tradition lives on – ed].

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Priceless.

One More Reason Why I Use a Mac

Editor's note: If you listen closely to the first part of this Microsoft Vista ad which aired in the U.S. and elsewhere in February 2007, you'll hear a faux 60's era astronaut reporting from "Freedom 7" as a Mercury Atlas rocket is shown on the TV. One small problem: Freedom 7 (carrying Alan Shepard) was launched on a Redstone rocket. Close enough for Microsoft, I suppose.

Andrew Sullivan best sums up the problem with Coulter:
Coulter's defense of the slur is that it was directed at an obviously straight man and so could not be a real slur. The premise of this argument is that the word faggot is only used to describe gay men and is only effective and derogatory when used against a gay man. But it isn't. In fact, in the schoolyard she cites, the primary targets of the f-word are straight boys or teens or men. The word "faggot" is used for two reasons: to identify and demonize a gay man; and to threaten a straight man with being reduced to the social pariah status of a gay man. Coulter chose the latter use of the slur, its most potent and common form.
Isn't it about time the media started to treat her like a pariah and stop plugging her into their prime time slots?

Monday, March 05, 2007

It's no secret that PZ Myers is no friend of Christianity (or any religion). But his take-down of James Cameron's over-hyped 'documentary' on the Lost Tomb of Jesus for the Discovery Channel is priceless.


9:05-9:15Hey, Simon bar Jonah's ossuary was found somewhere near here—maybe this was an area where lots of early Christians were buried! So they show some more piles of ossuaries nearby. It seems to me, though, that if they've got an association with a specific community of early Christians, that the statistical analysis which assumes a random distribution of names has just gone kablooiee.
9:15-9:25Finally, the much ballyhooed DNA evidence. They extracted mitochondrial DNA from bone fragments in the ossuaries. The mito DNA from the Jesus ossuary and the Miriamne Mara ossuary don't match—which is what you'd expect if it were Jesus and Mary Magdalene (they are not maternally related!) It's also what you'd expect if it were a family tomb, and they were husband and wife. Therefore, they speculate for a while that Mary Magdalene and Jesus must have actually been married to one another! It's an awful lot to spin from a lack of a DNA match.
9:25-9:30The guys at the apartment complex find a cement cover 20 meters away, and open it up. It's the right tomb! I don't quite understand why they're rummaging about in the old tomb—the ossuaries had been removed 20 years before, and stored in a warehouse.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Larry Kudlow on the good news about the economy:

One of the most underrated aspects of this bull-market economy is the sharp drop in marginal tax rates on capital formation. After the levies on capital gains and dividends were reduced to a scant 15% in 2003, the supply of easy capital surged, holding down real interest rates and expanding internally generated liquidity. This, plus record profits, has been the major source of the new-liquidity generation that has fueled stock markets at home and abroad.

This is good noninflationary liquidity. It is not bad liquidity, such as occurred in the 1970s when the Federal Reserve and other central banks gunned the printing presses and created the excess money expansion that drove inflation and interest rates sky-high.