Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why Geneva

Just had a conversation with a friend (one whom I have been encouraging to blog) who reminded me just what the Geneva Conventions were created for. The Conventions were created to keep war on a somewhat civilized basis.

Now here is the rub inherent in Geneva is that it applied only to uniformed soldiers. Since pretty much everyone we've taken from Afganistan and Iraq were out of uniform, they fall under a different definition in the Convention: spies. Spies are completely outside of the Convention's protection. Spies and saboteurs could be killed on discovery. In this light, Gitmo seems downright benevolent.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pondering Vocabulary

I recall an old anti-war musing that went "What if they threw a war and nobody showed up?" That got me to thinking, and I realized that we need a word to describe what it is when one side showed up but not the other. Granted, it wouldn't be war, it does take two to tango. But it certainly would not be "Peace", despite whatever Western Anti-War protesters like to think. Go tell it to Al-Qaeda and get them to stop fighting. Maybe then we could get some peace.

Friday, June 30, 2006

My Thought on The New York Times

The New York Times does not have the best interest of the country in its corporate heart. In publishing the bank tracking story, despite pleas from both sides of the aisle, showed that it put its own interests ahead of all others. In effect, they have acted in the semblence of the worst of corporate governance. Something to remember for the progressive defenders of the Grey Lady.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Problem in a Nutshell

One of the reasons that I took the lay-off from the site was that I was getting bored with the tone of debate. It is one thing to say that someone is wrong, a whole 'nother to say that someone is evil.

While this comment at Balloon Juice doesn't actually use the word evil, it does go to the personalization of political discourse. Please, can someone liberal please step up and debate in such a way that I can have a civil drink with them? Not too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Implications Not Thought Through

At least that's what I thought when I saw this new style of door flyers.

Sure, let's block the view of the peep holes for burglars. Also, can you imagine the damage that the glue might end up doing? Finally, it would seem to be rather labor intensive to get the folds and placement just right.

Link via Dave Barry

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Bad Day for Security

Someone's head had better roll in response to the case of three men dressed as clowns breaking into a Minuteman III missile facility in North Dakota. There must have been guards somewhere, but there certainly aren't any in that picture. The name of one of the men: Greg Boertje-Obed, makes me think that Jedi mind tricks may have been used. That fact will have to wait until trial to be determined.

A Bad Day for Security

Someone's head had better roll in response to the case of three men dressed as clowns breaking into a Minuteman III missile facility in North Dakota. There must have been guards somewhere, but there certainly aren't any in that picture. The name of one of the men: Greg Boertje-Obed, makes me think that Jedi mind tricks may have been used. That fact will have to wait until trial to be determined.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Too Unusual for Justice

Following on the heals of the child molester found too short for prison comes a case where the defendant is too old to get a jury of her peers:
A 79-year-old woman set to be tried on charges that she fatally shot her 85-year-old ex-beau is being deprived of her constitutional right to a fair trial, her attorney said.
Driskell is nearly a decade older than the legal age for exemption as a juror in the state of Georgia, which is 70.
Call this one a loser. The idea in America is that every citizen is equal under the law. Therefore, there is only one status in America, and all are peers by definition. Her lawyer should be looking for jurors who have been jilted in relationships. Those folks would be the peers he should want on the jury.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Forget Vinegar and Baking Soda

Take a gander at the Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment. (Requires QuickTime). The video demonstrates not only the amazing combination of Diet Coke and Menthos but also that of two guys and way too much time on their hands. Makes me wonder how much they shelled out for all of the Coke and Mentos.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

US/Italy Tie

Just finished watching the Italy vs United States Cup Game.
Count me in with everyone else, the referee sucked big time. Interesting thing about that guy, he had been suspended before after complaints from fellow referees. Let's hope it happens again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Update to Saw This One Coming

Hooters pained by champagne report
Good to see that someone with at least peripheral responsibility in the Katrina aid mess stepping up to do the right thing. I'd like to see that lawyer who took $1,000 make the donation of such funds.

Insert lawyer joke here.

One Terrorist Game

Instapundit.com offers a multiply updated post that includes a commentary on how, as Glenn puts it, "Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military operation." He then quotes from an economist report on how terrorists and the media feed off each other:

It's a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a "common-interest game," say Bruno S. Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University.

"Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents," their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money "as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers."

I think that there needs to be some responsibility on the part of the marginal increase of reader/viewership who seem only interested in carnage. Come on people, don't be such news vultures.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Saw This One Coming

I'm sure you can recall the hurry to get emergency funds to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Well, time to reap what was sown, namely hundreds of cases of fraud.
The GAO uncovered records showing that $1,000 from a FEMA debit card went to a Houston divorce lawyer; $600 was spent in a strip club and $400 was spent on "adult erotica products," all of which auditors concluded were "not necessary to satisfy legitimate disaster needs."
You put out money on the honor of the populace in general, you're going to find the bad apples. Too bad it costs so much to bring them out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bust Your Diet in Style

Who wouldn't want haute fast food? Just be warned that while you are biting down on your food, you're going to be feeling another bite elsewhere:
A Kobe beef hot dog ($14) pairs well with fries topped with Asiago cheese and truffle oil ($4.50).
And who said that in the future there would only be McDonald's?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I Sincerely Apologize

For posting this. I liked that song, only to see it desecrated. Hell, I probably could have done better down at karaoke.

Forgive me for sharing the pain, but it was too much to bear on my own.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Color Me Confused

The premise behind this contest
is to prove
that a much-publicized prescription for defeating aging by biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey was "so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate."
So some people are going to use learned debate to prove something is unworthy thereof? Sounds a bit self-defeating to me.

Link via Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who Feeds on Whom?

Perry de Haviland writes Libertarian Democrats? for Samizdata about the idea floated at the Daily Kos that one could be a libertarian on the left side of the American political aisle. The idea is that the corporation has to be counted with the government and the criminal as a threat to individual liberty. Perry points out that the problem with that is that corporate power only becomes corosive when coupled with governmental power. The Kelo immanent domain decision comes readily to mind.

In short, a corporation can only exert influence over and by what it owns. If you let the government have too much power, it becomes something worthwhile to buy. Check my last entry for a tongue in cheek take on that idea. But seriously, a corporation can only influence what it owns. People may have griped about Microsoft acting like a monopoly, but you certainly weren't looking over your shoulder for Bill Gates when you were last getting a physical. Nor would Wal-Mart have much to do with the cost of milk, what with the subsidies in effect. But in both cases, the government is right there, or threatens to be there. So why wouldn't corporations want to buy some of that?

Government influence is the ultimate contraband, and the only way to fight it is to cut off the production of it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

What They Can Do With Their Money

A quick thought on what the oil companies can do with their record profits. Kick a few bribes at the EPA to fast-track a few refineries. Hell, the agribusinesses should do the same to start up a bunch of stills for ethanol. I've heard that an ethanol distiller has purchased a brewery in the Northeast. How difficult would it be to push this more nationwide?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Was it Boredom?

Or perhaps it is simply a matter of having a sense of humor? A high court judge in England implanted a code in his ruling over the plagirism case regarding the DaVinci Code.

Evidently it is a lightly hidden ciphertext that in turn is a substitution code. At least one of the lawyers is promising to break the cypher.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Backhanded Insanity Defense

Let it be resolved that Zacarias Moussaoui is crazier than your average loon. First he undoes everything that his defense team had been working on for years by admitting he knew everything about 9/11 ahead of time, and then he claims that his defense team was out to get him,

Zerkin had asked Moussaoui whether he believes his defense team is in a conspiracy to kill him.

Moussaoui responded that the defense attorneys have engaged in "criminal non-assistance," the AP reported.

From my own point of view, I'd say give the guy life in prison. He wants martyrdom, and he'll use the state to get it. Kind of like the old joke that when the masochist says, "Hurt me," and the sadist says, "No."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tech for Terrorism

In light of Iran's enrichment of power plant grade uranium, I will acknowledge that it is not the same as saying that Iran has the bomb.

That is, they don't have a nuclear device to pass on to those who would wish to do our country harm. What I am concerned about is the use of this material in dirty bombs. Is there some way of tracking where a given sample of uranium had been refined?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Political Tacking

There is a certain course a candidate for the Presidency has to take on the way to the Office. Name, hard to the wing in the primaries and hard again to the center for the general election. Captain's Quarters has compiled the signs of John McCain, infamous Maverick of the Republican Party, taking the turn right-ward.

One of the quotes cited has McCain on the Daily Show conceding that he is headed toward "crazy-base world" in preparation for a run. Agreed, not a great way to get in good with that base, but I think that it does prep the road back for him to the center should he pull in the nomination. The media might just be a bit more forgiving if he comes off as insincere in the first part rather than in the second. Granted, the media will never favor a Republican, no matter how unorthodox, or a Democrat.

That wink is going to keep him in relatively good stead through the primaries. At least for him, the media will cover him as if they didn't have their noses pinched shut.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Patriotism of Crushing Dissent

From Instapundit.com we get to see what crushing of dissent really looks like. Thank Castro for this example.

The attacks intensified after a speech by Castro last July in which he denounced opposition activists as U.S. government lackeys and praised supporters who two weeks earlier disrupted a dissident protest in Havana.

"The people, angrier than before over such shameless acts of treason, intervened with patriotic fervor and didn't allow a single mercenary to move," Castro said. "This is what will happen however many times as necessary when traitors and mercenaries go a millimeter beyond the point that our revolutionary people ... are prepared to permit."
How about this: we don't question your patriotism for protesting if you don't question our patriotism should we decide to break up one of your little shindigs? One of your progressive heroes has just called that type of hooliganism patriotic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How Was This Supposed to Work?

Here is a cautionary tale of a couple who earned attention from the Department of Homeland Security because they made a larger than usual payment on their credit card.

File this one under "Doesn't the DHS have better things to be doing?"

Link via Ciggy's Smokehouse

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

At Least They Aren't The Wiggy Ones

Despite there being some blowhards in the government over the Mohammed cartoons, I think that the UAE has been one of the more level headed of the Arab nations. No riots reported, no burning of embassies. Maybe we can trust these folks.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sorta Liveblogging the Opening Ceremony

9:15 Western: That "beating heart" had some serious rhythm problems.

Were the cows really necessary?

I think I may start laughing any moment.

OK, the lady with the Italian flag is kind of hot.

Enter the figurehead president.

9:20 The kid singing the Italian anthem clearly doesn't have stage fright. Lord knows that having the whole world watching you could certainly cause it.

Things had better pick up, or this is going to lose out to Battlestar Galactica.

11:00 Battlestar Galactica won.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Somebody Had to Say It

Even if it is satire. Purportedly from the mouth of Simpsons creator Matt Groening:
The controversy over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper has led the producers of The Simpsons to reconsider his appearance in a forthcoming episode. The offending cartoons included a picture of the founder of Islam wearing a turban, and have been slammed by Muslims for being blasphemous and Israelis as overly subtle.

“In light of the situation in Denmark, we have decided to withdraw our depiction of the Prophet out of sensitivity towards the Islamic community’s feelings,” creator Matt Groening said. “And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed.”
All kidding aside, don't you get the sense that this is why so many media outlets are not publishing the cartoons, if only to provide their viewers the context of what is really causing the uproar. "Sensitivity to the Muslim community" is the face saving excuse, but I don't think that it is unfair to say that the bullying has been effective.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Shoulda Gotten a Haircut


None of the volunteers at yesterday's med supply unloading knew that the newspaper was going to be there, with a camera. That's me in the back, not looking nearly as ratty as I did.

Monday, February 06, 2006

My Good Deed for the Week

Just got back from helping to unload medical supplies for the local Red Cross chapter. A local supply company made a donation of $110,000 worth of products just before the end of the year. Let me tell you, that it a lot of latex gloves, bandages, and blood pressure cuffs. Especially when you don't have a forklift or a convenient loading dock.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Compare and Contrast

Observe the difference in reactions and protests in response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons as opposed to Christian affrontery. Death threats and boycotts of entire nations vs. a few pickets and media talk.

Compare that with the (putatively artistic) provocation with what can no longer be considered an uproar. The Western World at least has a sense of humor (make sure you have one when you click here) when humor is intended.

Trackbacked to Castle Argghhh!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Definintely Not the Hands-Free Model

Check out the latest and greatest in cell phone development: bone induction speakers. The idea is that the bones of your head carry the sound to your eardrums rather than through the air. Just be sure to remember to hang up after the conversation, or else you really will be hearing voices in your head.

Personally, I have enough issues with voices without inviting anyone else, thank you very much.

Link via Electric Venom

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

So I'm Not the Only One

Citizen Smash has his reaction to the State of the Union. I'll cut to the chase:
I agree. Politics these days is boring. Both sides are out for party gain, and there is no philosophy being debated. I've heard all of the names being thrown around, and let me tell you, the bloom is off the rose.

Wake me up when Individualism vs. Statism starts up again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My (Sorta) Liveblog of the SOTU

Damn I wish Bush was a conservative. Much as I like the emphasis on new power technologies, I still cringe when he talks about federal funding for it. Nothing like involving the federal government in a project to slow it down.

6:50 (Pacific) Like we can hold off the impending crisis in the Middle East until 2025, Bush's proposed date of energy independence.

6:53 Uh oh, there's the "compassionate" word. He's listing off a lot of things that he claims is the result of positive impact on private character by government policy. Like I said, I wish he were conservative.

6:57 Evidently the President has his limits on the American advancement in science. Turns out that the pressure is encouraging adult stem cell research. Still, if the government were not involved, I think that social-con Bush would still seek to hamstring the work being done.

7:03 Platitude, platitude, blah, blah, blah

Pretty much what I thought, Bush is a politician.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Condescension At Work

That is just about the only way to describe it. Via this editorial, we get this wonderful little exchange:

In response, I began to read verbatim quotes form Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian rulers about their lethal intentions toward the U.S., their genocidal plans for Israel, their hostility toward “Anglo-Saxon civilization.”

Professor Amirahmadi objected that scholars and journalists must not take such remarks seriously. He suggested it was either unsophisticated or unfair of me (maybe both) to repeat such statements on the air.

By what measure does one use to judge whether a political leader can be judged by their words? This is saying that someone may not be taken seriously merely because... what? They use rhetoric that does not fit into the journalistic or academic paradigm? The decision to give credibility shows more of a high and mighty attitude on the part of the listener than any statement about the quality of the speaker..

If they can't be trusted to use words properly, then how can we trust them to have nuclear power? Even more, if they can not be trusted use words properly, how can we rely on the words they use in any negotiation?

Link via Castle Argghhh!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gaming Hurricanes

Hurricane Pam was a storm that never hit land, yet should have taught lessons in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. Its projections included extensive flooding and massive casualties in New Orleans in as little as a Category 3 storm.

This part struck me:
A month before Katrina hit, state and federal officials working on the Pam exercise estimated that government plans to evacuate people from New Orleans were only 10 percent complete.

"If you think soup lines in the Depression were long, wait till you see lines" at collection points in New Orleans, Transportation Department regional emergency officer Don Day said at a July 29 briefing with federal and state authorities.
I assume that means that evacuation plans could only move ten percent of the people who need moving. One problem that I did not hear about was the lines at evacuation points prior to the storm hitting. What I want to know is to what degree the gamed evacuation plans were actually put into effect. For that matter, just how involved and aware of the results were the governments of New Orleans and Louisiana?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Don't Ask Where He Got His Numbers

How does one go about quantifying a bad day? Evidently, if you are an english health psychologist, you make up a laughable formula and try to pass it off as scientific.

On paper, the formula looks like this:

W + (D-d) x TQ
M x NA

The variables are (W)eather, (D)ebt, (d) monthly salary, (T)ime since Christmas, time since failure to (Q)uit a bad habit, low (M)otivational levels and (NA), the need to take action.

I know that time is money, but just what units do you use to measure Motivational levels and Need to take Action? Somehow, he determined that today was the worst day of the year. I might have been happier had I not read this article. Then I might have had some hope left for humanity.

This guy pulled the numbers either out of thin air, or out of someplace else less sanitary. Be sure to go wash your hands after reading the article.

Link via Dave Barry

Friday, January 20, 2006

Battlestar WTF

Did anybody else detect something of a real world political bent to tonights episode of Battlestar Galactica? The peace-with-the-Cylons movement, with the overtones that humanity deserved what they got, seems to be begging comparisons. The writers wouldn't be playing around like that, would they?

Non-Violence vs. the Shameless

From Winds of Change.NET: Our Darkening Sky: Iran and the War, we get this thought regarding nonviolent protest in Iran:
Let's get real. Whatever they may think of the mullahs, the Iranian people, and such civil society as they have built in the shadows, have no stomach to seriously oppose them. The mullahs have proven that they are quite willing to kill, with their Basij hitler youth corps and al-Qaeda mercenaries, as many Iranians as necessary. Nonviolent measures like the commendable struggle of decent people like Akbar Ganji or even Ayatollah Montazeri are, in this situation, useless.
The idea of Ghandi-like passive resistance makes a major assumption regarding those who are being protested against. Namely, that the protested possess a sense of shame. The British colonials put great store on honor, an honor that was shaken by attacking unarmed people. The people of the United States were moved to revulsion by the images of non-violent protesters having dogs sicced upon them and water cannons blasting them.

As near as anyone can tell, the Mullahs of Iran have no such shame. They answer to a 'higher' power, and any means to that end is good. Clearly, we are talking more about nails that stand up rather than squeaky wheels.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

On the Right Course

During the whole Terri Schiavo mess, I came down on the side of spousal rights. That is why the case of Haleigh Poutre, the eleven year-old abuse victim who was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. Lacking any responsible care giver, Haleigh has become a ward of the state, and the state had decided to discontinue life support.

Suddenly, it was looking like Terri Schiavo all over again. What various conservative voices are missing in their rush to characterize the other side as ghouls is that when Haleigh has shown signs of recovery, the Department of Social Services has changed its plans and will continue life support.

The likelihood that the doctors are mistaken about the persistence of the vegetative state is much greater for a child than a similar diagnosis in an adult. At this point, everyone seems to be acting out of a position of hope. What more can anyone be asking for?    

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Gotta Try This

You can guess that I am up for just about any type of game, particularly the potable variety. That's why I'd have to try The 24 Drinking Game.

  • Jack says “You have got to trust me”, take 1 shot– if the emphasis is on “got”, i.e. “You have GOT to trust me”, take an extra shot
  • Jack doesn’t have time to explain, take 1 shot
  • Jack doesn’t have time for this, take 1 shot
  • Jack says “You’ve got to do it”, take 1 shot– if this is followed by “and you’ve got to do it now,” take 2 more
  • Anyone points out something that is “against regulations”, take 1 shot
  • Anyone has got to understand what is at stake here, take 1 shot
  • Satellite coordinates are requested, take 1 shot– if they can’t get the coordinates, take another

The great thing about this game is the real time theme of the show. You would know exactly when you hit the floor. I'd give myself 10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Wal-Mart Vineyards

Link via Balloon Juice.

I can just picture the racks of Wal-Mart Wine™ under the smiley face logo. I wonder: screw top or box? Gay Orbit offers a list of possible names, although I would add Pinot Greasyo.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Prison isn't Enough

I have to agree with John Cole on the matter of Clarence Ray Allen not being the case that anti death penalty activists wish to rally around. The man organized murders from behind bars. The man is an argument for the death penalty, no matter how old he is.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Yet More for the Storage Locker

Coverage of NSA's Echelon Program from the 1990's

More on Iran and the UN Security Council

Jeff Goldstein links to other posts regarding the politics of the UN taking action against the Iranian nuclear program. The big issues seem to be the threats of vetoes from Russia and China, both of whom are deeply invested in the Mullah regime.I would think that Russia might have a great deal to lose, perhaps as much as the US does, if Iran gets the bomb. IIRC, the Chechan Muslim separatists have been getting a good deal of support from Tehran. Certainly Moscow does not want those groups receiving a clandestine warhead. Remember, these are the same people that took an entire school hostage, a scene that resulted in the deaths of many children. Certainly someone could appeal to Russia's self interest.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gross Chic

I'd think that there are better uses for latex than to make clothing and accessories that look like human skin.

As one of the commenters said:
I think I saw this in Silence of the Lambs.

Definition of an Empty Threat

Old Europe is finally showing some life in response to Iran's nuclear provocations. Sadly, all they are promising to do is to take the matter to the UN Security Council.

Color me not impressed. The path that is being proposed here is one that will give the mullahs years to perfect their processes and products. Even if the UN is able to shut down Iran's nuclear ambitions, there will still be more technical information floating around, adding to the library left by AQ Kahn.

Just another little bit to disturb one's sleep at night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Philosophy is Where ID Belongs

Take a look at my blog and you can tell that I have no respect for Intelligent Design as a scientific theory. I do believe, however, that it makes for some very interesting philosophical discussion. Therefore, I am coming out against the latest ACLU action to remove ID from public school philosophy classes. Evidently the ACLU would have problems with any type of comparitive religion being taught in a public school. So much for not having an agenda beyond civil liberties.

Link via Castle Arrrgh!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

An ID Shot at Legitimacy

I went looking for answers to a question that occurred to me while I was outside smoking a cigar. Namely: What purpose do mass extinction events serve in an intelligently designed world?

Googling for answers proved fruitless. If any of you out there know of any, please leave a link in the comments.

What I did find was a site proposing that there are testable predictions in Intelligent Design that indicate that ID is standing up better than evolution. I’ll re-format the questions, predictions and observations here for easier reading.
Single transcendent beginning: Anti-Supernatural - will be refuted; Christian ID - evidence will increase; Observation - There is no evidence for more than one universe or one creation event.
This argument is characterizing the naturalistic position as presupposing the theory of a multitude of universes each of which possessing a unique beginning. Some cosmological theories propose that a new universe is created in a Big Bang with the collapse of a black hole. By definition, however, no information about the new universe can reach us because of the gravity of the black hole. Most scientists just give up when this theoretical limitation is reached, so this is debate in theory only.
Fine tuning: Anti-Supernatural - "design" will be shown to be an artifact, due to incomplete knowledge; Christian ID - more examples of extreme fine tuning will be found, indicating true design; Observation - Examples of fine tuning continue to increase. Some parameters designed to within a part in 10^120.
This is the classic argument between the Weak Anthropic Principle (If things weren’t so fine tuned we wouldn’t be here to wonder at the fine tuning) and the Strong Anthropic Principle (Things were fine tuned so that we could marvel at the fine tuning). Even if String Theory manages to show how higher dimensions of space result in the state of the physical constants, it would only change the stage for the debate. That debate would be about whether a designer designed the shape of the higher dimensions so that life as we know it could come to be.

Additionally, the physical constants have to be the way they are for life as we know it to occur. Perhaps life as we don’t know it exists under other constants, but that type of thinking is just pure philosophy.
Uniqueness of earth: Anti-Supernatural - many rocky planets with oceans and continents will be found; Christian ID - earth-like planets will be found to be rare or non-existent; Observation - No other rocky planets have been found. Most planets found are large gas giants orbiting very close to their stars.
Uh oh, science hasn’t found any other rocky planets, and therefore, they don’t exist. The most prolific method of finding planets has been to measure the wobble of a star under its planet’s gravity. That method only detects large planets orbiting close by the star. To make an analogy: we only have a net that catches fish larger than two feet long. Since no fish smaller than two feet are caught, it follows that no fish smaller than two feet exist. Science is limited to its tools for collecting information. To hold it to higher standards of information is arguing disingenuously.
Existence of life in the universe: Anti-Supernatural - life will be found to be abundant in our galaxy, since it is simply the properties of chemistry and physics; Christian ID - extraterrestrial life will be rare or non-existent and advanced life will be found only on earth; Observation - No other life found. SETI has been completely unsuccessful.
The plentitude of life off of earth is a wide-open debate in science, so the above characterization is a massive simplification. As for not finding life elsewhere, we haven’t had the capability of looking for life. To conflate all searches for life down to SETI is to limit the definition life solely to intelligent life capable of sending radio signals. Even then, and giving SETI a generous fifty years of operation, we have only listened to a fifty light year sphere around the earth. That is a mere pittance of the whole of the galaxy, much less the whole of the universe.
Prebiotic chemistry: Anti-Supernatural - a naturalistic scenario for the origin of all biochemical pathways and replicative molecules will be found; Christian ID - the universe was designed to support living systems, but their creation required ID by God; Observation - It is impossible to chemically produce many basic molecules required for any living system.
Note the change in tense between the prediction and the observation: will be found/is impossible. Seems like the goal posts are set to move into the parking lot.
Origin of Life: Anti-Supernatural - Life emerged late, during ideal environmental conditions. Life began as simple systems (pre-bacteria); Christian ID - Life emerged early under adverse conditions. Life has always been complex; Observation - Neither the biochemical nor replicative pathways have been described. In fact, many scientists think that they could not have arisen by any naturalistic means.
See above. Once again we have the “Science can’t, therefore science shall never” fallacy. Add in the “Many Scientists” believe something fallacy.
New designs in nature: Anti-Supernatural - Complex new designs would be rare and develop slowly whereas simple transitions would be common; Christian ID - No restriction on designs with the possibility that new designs would be created "overnight"; Observation - Contrary to the expectations of evolutionary theory, the fossil record is replete with complex transitions and new designs whereas simple transitions (intermediates) are rare.
Evolutionary theory would expect the opposite to be true and to be reflected in the fossil record.
Evidently there’s no love for the punctuated equilibrium theory of Stephen Jay Gould. Additionally, the prevalence of simple transitions has been grossly mischaracterized. As for emergence of complex new species appearing, see below.
Mass extinction events: Anti-Supernatural - Slow recovery; Christian ID - No restrictions on "recovery" period as new species are created; Observation - Evolution predicts slow recovery following extinctions and that those recoveries will be filled by the species surviving the extinction event. However, the fossil record indicates rapid recovery with completely different designs and species appearing within a period of tens of thousands of years or less.
Evolution would hardly predict slow recovery. Immediately after a mass extinction event would be a great time to be a mutant. When the playing field is wide open is when natural selection is at its weakest. Vast variation from small sets of species is to be expected, even in a time frame as short as ten thousand years.

In short, nothing but mischaracterizations and expectations that science either knows now or never shall know.

Very Good News from Sago

The extent to which Randy McCloy Jr., the sole survivor pulled from the Sago Mine explosion, had suffered brain damage due to his ordeal seems to be lessening with each day. He is moving extremities in response to pain and his brain stem appears intact.

Hopefully, his forebrain also remained in good health. If it has, then there is a good chance that it will be Randy that awakens, as opposed to a diminished version. His wife deserves that for her dedication through this ordeal.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

5 Days Must Be Some Sort of Record

If Pat Robertson had a New Year's Resolution not to say stupid things, then he has certainly blown it already.
On today's 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharons recent stroke on God's "enmity against those who 'divide my land,'" an implicit reference to recent steps the Prime Minister has taken to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Pardon me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the return of the Jews to the Promised Land a sign of the coming Apocalypse? So if Israel is giving up land, doesn't that imply the Army of God is taking a slight stand down?

Just a thought: Since both Jews and Muslims worship the same God, granted in different ways, the land, from God's point of view, is not divided. It all belongs to his followers who are working toward His glory. At least, in theory.

Some Questions Are Better Than Others

I have always liked the saying that "Science is defined more by its questions and less by its answers." I have come to realize that that almost plays into the ID "Teach the Debate" argument. What is necessary is a way to determine what is a scientific question.

Skeptico, via the Skeptics Circle, answers the appeal to “science doesn’t know everything” with a call for evidence. A question needs a basis in what is already known. Much like you need to know the starting point of a journey to make decent directions, you need to start with knowledge so that any new discovery is of a piece with the rest of science. I don't see how that is so difficult.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Talk About an Irrational Player

The usual assumption when any type of game theory consideration occurs is that all of the players are acting rationally in their own best interests. That assumption seems to be falling apart when dealing with Iran and its President.
Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with "import requests and acquisitions ... registered almost daily", the report seen by the Guardian concludes.
If these guys are looking for parts for balistic missiles, then they are clearly off their chump. The downside to a nuclear missile is that it leaves a clear return address. Tehran would be an irradiated parking lot shortly after launch.

There is no playing with people like this.

One more thing: I wonder where Ahmadinejad picked up this rhetoric:
Governments in the west and elsewhere have also been dismayed by recent pronouncements from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said that Holocaust denial is a "scientific debate" and that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
Teach the debate, y'all.

Via Protein Wisdom

Monday, January 02, 2006

I Am Not Alone!

Via Pajamas Media, I have found that I am not alone in my dislike of the phrase "person of interest". For the love of God, just call them a suspect, you're not fooling anyone.