Sunday, December 31, 2006

It seems more and more of the contributors at Scienceblogs are aware of what Ed Brayton points out:
PZ is often treated the way Manny Ramirez is treated by Boston Red Sox fans, who often can be heard saying "that's just Manny being Manny." When he goes off on a completely unjustified attack on me like that and even dares to question my commitment to an anti-creationist movement that I have spent the better part of two decades fighting for, as he has several times in the past, I get numerous private emails from our mutual colleagues that say, in essence, "Look, we all know PZ is a jerk, he's always been a jerk, but that's just the way he is. You can't let him provoke you like that." Well, to be honest, I'm just not built that way. I have never initiated a personal attack on him, but if he starts it I have not the slightest inclination to play the passive victim. If you behave like an asshole to me, I have no problem calling you an asshole; if that bothers you, stop being an asshole.
So I guess that's the big question for Scienceblogs in 2007: Will PZ Myers stop being an asshole?

(I'm holding my breath. No, really!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An update (via the Corner) from a Marine in Iraq:
Morale: [M]orale among our guys is very high. They not only believe that they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, is that there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just can't stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally ...

Send more troops.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Reader's Digest has listed, home--ahem--among other books, of my podcast of Doctor Janeway's Plague.

Congratulations to Evo Terra, Tee Morris and the rest of the crew at this great start-up. I'm proud to be part of it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Many people write as if the sectarian warfare in Iraq was caused by coalition intervention. But it is surely obvious that the struggle for mastery has been going on for some time and was only masked by the apparently iron unity imposed under Baathist rule. That rule was itself the dictatorship of a tribal Tikriti minority of the Sunni minority and constituted a veneer over the divisions beneath, as well as an incitement to their perpetuation. The Kurds had already withdrawn themselves from this divide-and-rule system by the time the coalition forces arrived, while Shiite grievances against the state were decades old and had been hugely intensified by Saddam's cruelty. Nothing was going to stop their explosion, and if Saddam Hussein's regime had been permitted to run its course and to devolve (if one can use such a mild expression) into the successorship of Udai and Qusai, the resulting detonation would have been even more vicious.
On target, as usual.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Although Ken Miller is widely regarded as a superb teacher, not many people know he also has a great sense of humor:
Kenneth Miller, professor at Brown University and expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, replied to William A. ‘Divine Wind’ Dembski this morning with some suggestions for good video. I know I’d like to see it. Fortunately, he used “reply all” in responding to Dembski, so I got it in my inbox. I thought that the PT community would like to see it, too, so I asked Prof. Miller if I could get his permission to post his email, and he kindly agreed. It is appended below the fold.

Dear Bill,

Thanks for the e-mail. It’s great to see what sort of research the Intelligent Design movement is up to these days!

I’d like to help you with the Judge’s e-mail, but since I have never had any contact with him outside the courtroom, I have no idea what his e-mail might be. I’m sure he’d be thrilled by the offer to remove “less flattering” sound effects, of course.

I do believe that I can help you with the video, though. As much as I enjoyed it, I was disappointed that it didn’t include some of the more amusing events from the trial. Since you’ve clearly got a little extra time on your hands, why not punch it up a bit with a few more highlights?

For example, how about Bill Buckingham claiming that he never mentioned the word “creationism,” and then the video clip showing him doing exactly that? (I can send you the clip if you need it). Or Mike Behe peeking out from behind a stack of 58 papers, 9 books, and a couple of textbooks saying that even this isn’t enough to convince him that the immune system evolved? Or, even better, your own DC spokesman for the Discovery Institute (Mark Ryland) claiming that the DI had “never” advocated the teaching of ID in schools, followed by Richard Thompson, in his own voice, waving a copy of Steve Meyer’s book which advocated exactly that? I’ve got that last one on a DVD if you like. You’d love it, Bill - Richard brought down the house at the American Enterprise Institute with that one.

Or, even better, how about the stuff before the trial?

Why not show the pictures of the 8 ID experts who promised the Dover Board that they would be there in court to defend them? … and then you can show 5 of the 8 running away at deposition time. I’ve even got a sound effects file I can send you of galloping horses, and maybe a scream or two in the background as the dreaded experts from the ACLU-friendly plaintiffs arrive?

Now that would be one heckuva animation!

Best Wishes for a Wonderful Christmas,


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dale Davenport at the Patriot News is just one example of mainstream journalists who are wearying of the mendacity coming out of an institute supposedly concerned with the truth.

It's not unusual for the loser in a court battle to criticize the judge who ruled against him.

But attempting to discredit the judge professionally is a more serious matter, especially in a case where the loser hasn't appealed the judge's ruling.

Perhaps it's reflective of the times in which we live, when people who don't have the facts on their side are quick to turn the attack personal. It's a staple of today's politics, where nothing more than a party label becomes, to someone of another label, a presumption of all that is evil.

So we have the Discovery Institute, which backed the losing side in last year's intelligent design trial in U.S. Middle District Court, now claiming that Judge John E. Jones copied some of his ruling from documents submitted by the winning side.

To which some judges I've talked to have said, in essence, "So?"

One would expect that a judge, in siding with one litigant, would sustain that litigant's arguments. And a judge logically would use words that were before him in documents submitted as evidence by the successful litigant.

The Discovery Institute said "90.9 percent" of the section in Jones' ruling on whether intelligent design is science was "copied verbatim or virtually verbatim" from "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" filed by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU was supporting a group of parents who brought suit against the Dover Area School Board to challenge its policy of telling students in science class that some people believe a higher being designed the world.

What's happening here is that Discovery Institute hopes that by questioning Jones' integrity, and thus his credibility, it will lend support to the ongoing effort to teach students in public schools that God created the world and that the various species of life did not evolve from simpler organisms. In a press release Tuesday announcing the findings of its study of Judge Jones' ruling, Discovery Institute referred at least eight times in a confrontational way to "Darwinism" or "Darwinists," a reference to the Theory of Evolution proposed by Charles Darwin. Supported by mountains of scientific evidence, evolution is the generally accepted basis of science today.

Whatever your beliefs about the origins of species, and of life itself, teaching religious belief as science in public schools pretty clearly violates both the letter and spirit of religious freedom spelled out in the Constitution. Why this is so hard for some folks to accept is troubling, because it is precisely the proscription of government endorsement of religion -- telling us, or in this case teaching our children, what to believe -- that allows us to believe as we want and to teach our children accordingly.

Here's a fantastic resource for teaching your children (and yourself) about our place in the universe.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Since we're on the subject...I wonder if the Discovery Institute actually pays William Dembski to spend his working time this way....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

There comes a point where words simply fail. You read the press releases this so-called Institute puts out...and after a while you really begin to wonder just how much utter contempt they must have for the Christians they claim to be serving.

Josh Rosenau sums up the latest kool-aid from the DI.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Well, here I am.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 65% Conservative, 35% Liberal
Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

(Should I duck?)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Discontinuing the Environs feature today.
(In the more than four years since I made these audio files available, I think I got one 'thank you' and one donation from the thousands of people who acccessed them. Not that I'm being grouchy or anything...)