"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Feeling better, finally, and doing a little catching up in the blogosphere this morning. Can't point to anything specific, but some of the comments I've seen have crytallized -- almost -- something I've been thinking about for a while.

We've defined the political "right" and "left" according to certain criteria that, for most of recent history, have been based on the power and size of government versus the citizenry. Thus we've had commentators such as Andrew Sullivan walking a perilous tightrope, trying to differentiate their own, "classic" conservatism from the new conservatism (Goldwater vs Bush), while the left has become nothing more than a group of whiners without a central focus.

I ran across this, quoted by Sullivan, this morning:

Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.

I think there we have the seeds of a new definition, and we'll take our cue from what we've seen "conservatism" turn into in this country: the right has become the party of big government, huge budget deficits, unashamed cronyism, claims of unlimited power by the executive, censorship, denial of basic human rights, including the subversion of our legal system in the service of maintaining that power -- in short, every totalitarian regime we've ever seen.

It's an idea that's been at the back of my mind for a long time, and I think I've even mentioned it, in embryonic form, a couple of times. We needn't call it "right" or "left" -- we can call it "up" or "down," "in" or "out," what have you, but the fact remains that, while the left is saddled with the history of Stalin and Mao and the current embarrassment of PETA and the PC thought police, it will be unable to forge meaningful alliances or to state a clear position. Cut them lose -- throw PETA, Michael Moore and their ilk to the winds and focus on fighting authoritarianism, whether it be the Taliban or the Bush administration. The right has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists, and quite frankly, I see little difference between the Christianists of the US and the Islamists of the Middle East and Central Asia: they are both rooted in authoritarian philosophies, no matter how much they have to pervert the teachings of the religions they claim as their cores. It's up to the left, now, to stand for the principles of democracy and human liberty. If that means redefining the poles, so be it.

This all comes from The Euston Manifesto, linked by Sullivan. I like the idea so far. Check it out.


Ran across an interesting reference to the relationship between art and entertainment (I think from a study of Ray Bradbury's fiction, if I remember correctly) that I want to go back and look at again, now that my brain is working. More on that later. (Sparked again by a comment by Andrew Sullivan. Much as he irritates me sometimes, with what seems to be commentary from a hermetically sealed ivory tower, he is thought-provoking more often than not.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Space Merchants

That's the title of a classic science fiction novel from many years ago by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth. On its face, it is a fairly standard thriller, but the assumptions (the "What if?") are stunning. The world is run by corporations -- openly: senators in Washington no longer represent states, but major companies. The story revolves around the plan to market Venus, and a counterplan to withhold the planet from exploitation.

So look what's hapening now. From TPM Cafe:

Congress is going to hand the operation of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. Democrats are helping. It's a shame.

Don’t look now, but the House Commerce Committee next Wednesday is likely to vote to turn control of the Internet over to AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and what’s left of the telecommunications industry. It will be one of those stories the MSM writes about as “little noticed” because they haven’t covered it.

Do we see the first signs of it happening in the Bush administration? He's given Iraq to Halliburton, wants to give ANWR to Exxon-Mobil, and now seems to want to give the Internet to AT&T. I can't lay the blame at his feet completely, of course: the Democrats, as noted, are helping. (It occurs to me that one reason the Democrats can't establish an identity is that they don't have one: they're just the Republicans that the Christianists hate.)

OK -- you obviously use the Internet. Keep up with this at Save the Internet. Write your congresscritter, and your senators. And blast the FCC -- it's their fault. Bury them with complaints.

(I've just e-mailed my own rep, and included some not-very-complimentary comments on the performance of the Democratic Party over the past five years.)

Stuffy, post-cold/allergies (maybe -- not sure which), cough, icky, and of course it's turned cold and rainy. Feh!

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's Only To Be Expected

that this week, when I have a very full work schedule, I come down with a cold.

Life's like that. Far too often.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Loser of the Week

Phill Kline, Kansas AG. Of course, Kansas is becoming the Promised Land for losers anyway. From NYT:

A federal judge in Kansas has dealt another blow to the crusade by the state's attorney general, Phill Kline, to restrict abortions under the phony banner of combating child abuse.

Shot down again. Maybe he's just too stupid to give up.

Another drive-by. After a long day of butt-numbing donkeywork, I don't have much to say. Soon.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bucking History

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, whose approval ratings are around 33%, chose Diversity Day to repeal discrimination protections for gay employees in the state government. It may come as no surprise that Fletcher is a Republican and that he has been dogged by scandals in the state government. (Sound familiar?)

What one might not expect is the reaction from the business community, as reflected in this editorial from Business Lexington:

How ironic is it that on "Diversity Day," the governor of Kentucky let the Vice President of the United States know that his daughter isn't welcome on his staff - which is a sad thing, because Mary Cheney is intelligent, articulate, and accomplished and might have the talent to transform the governor's dismal approval ratings overnight. Newt Gingrich, former speaker and likely presidential candidate, also has a sister who wouldn't be welcome in Fletcher's state house.

It is not a positive notice.

Kentucky seems to be in the news:

Note this story from MSNBC, about Jason Johnson, the student who was expelled from the University of the Cumberlands for being gay:

[State Sen Ernesto] Scorsone mocked a presentation by state Senate President David Williams a day earlier, in which Williams presented an oversized check from the state to the university for its planned $10 million pharmacy school. Williams has defended the school's decision to expel Johnson.

"I wouldn't cash that check," Scorsone said Wednesday.

Johnson and others argue that a private school that bans openly gay students should not receive funding from the state.

Brett Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Ernie Fletcher, said Wednesday the governor hasn't yet decided whether to use his line-item veto power to remove the funding for the pharmacy school from the state budget.

Hall said Fletcher is concerned that the proposed pharmacy school might not be able to win accreditation because of its policy against accepting gay and lesbian students. Hall said the governor also has sought a legal opinion from his general counsel about whether the state can give money for a building project to a religious institution.

Seems we have some First Amendment issues here. Yank the funds, Ernie. You've already got enough problems.

Two points here: the Christianists, those who need someone to hate to give their "message" validity (I honestly cannot call them "Christians" -- to state it once again, they have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ except that one can note the extent to which they have perverted them) are fighting history, morality, and the American character, all of which point to tolerance and (gasp!) acceptance. It's a mark of how badly they have skewed the foundations of our nation that the State of Kentucky could even consider funding a religious school that discriminates against anyone.

Y'know, we've had a workable system in place for years: religious institutions that participate in government-funded programs have incorporated separate entities that have their own governance to administer those programs. They have had no problems in adhering to the requirements of the law, including anti-dicrimination statutes. I take it as another indication of the poisonous nature of the so-called "Christian right" that any government official could even consider subverting the law to accommodate them. This sort of thing is really of a piece with the Chimp's "faith-based" initiatives -- as long as the faith is evangelical Christianity of the nastiest sort. So we find Mitt Romney, one of the most blatant vote-whores of the decade, trying to gut civil rights laws in Massachusetts to accommodate a bunch of pederasts. And, vis-a-vis the Catholic Charities pulling out of adoptions services: let them. If they can't play by the rules, turn that caseload over to a non-partisan, non-sectarian, secular organization, and let the country see just exactly what this Catholic "morality" is all about. As Andrew Sullivan has pointed out numerous times, secularism is what made this country possible. Seems foolish to toss it out now, when we need it the most.

Sporadically yours (at least for the next ten days or so). . . .

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Like This

A quintessentially American form of subversion.

This is from the California Department of Corrections. Their Geocities site seems to be down, but check out more of their work here.

I Have Fans!

Makes a nice warm feeling to get something like this in my e-mail:

Only four days
and we're already missing you!
How is Art in the Park going?
Hope all is well.
Best from Oakland. . . .

It's actually not as bad as I had feared -- had a day off yesterday, which was devoted to catching up on book reviews for GMR. The hard part is not knowing from one day to the next where or if I'm working.

Which reminds me -- gotta scoot.

I will return.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Leave of Absence (Sort of)

I'm not going to be here much over the next two or three weeks -- it's art fair season in Chicago, and I'm working for Art in the Park, starting today. With any luck, I actually will have a day off somewhere along the line -- I think. Maybe.

However, I did run across this excellent post by Digby. It's mostly about Joe Klein, who seems to be another highly-touted nonentity, but I found this section resonating:

But most Democrats are not pacifists, even the liberals he seems to loathe with such a passion. Most of us simply do not believe that the United States' security, "honor" or credibility has been well served by hardliner hawks who are in a constant state of hysteria agitating for war all the time to prove the country's military prowess. They've been doing this as long as I can remember and it's always been absurd.

The vast majority of the country supported the Afghanistan operation, as did most of the world. But the left and the rest of the world checked out over Iraq, and obviously not because we believed that all use of American force is immoral --- it was because the plan was fucking hallucinatory. If there were intelligent, well-informed, tough centrists around you sure as hell didn't find them in the DC wading pool where Joe Klein was climbing into George W. Bush's codpiece as fast as his chubby little arms and legs would carry him. There were plenty of smart, well-informed tough liberals around the country, however, who understood that the Iraq war was a huge strategic error from the first moment the administration began doing the war dance.

I found it particularly interesting since I had just read this post from Jane Hamsher:

Newt didn’t just support the war. In addition to sitting on the Defense Policy Board and being one of its more enthusiastic cheerleaders, he created a climate where it became impossible to question the war, the rationals given for it or any of the disastrous decisions made by George W. Bush by branding people who did so as anti-American turncoats. . . .

So we should embrace Newt’s apostasy? I don’t think so. He’s admitted no culpability, taken no responsibility for his role in all of this. As Bill Sher argues, he’s probably just dancing around trying to find a new neocon frame for the whole mess that will wash with an increasingly disillusioned public. One that, I suspect, will include the wisdom of going to war with Iran ("you see, the war we really wanted was…")

I guess I’m just not the "forgiving" type when it comes to the likes of Newt. Don’t expect me to joining any kind of applause chorus any time soon.

It's not just the Republicans who are in disarray. It's everyone except us -- the great unwashed.

I've also been getting some good feedback on my post about Russ Feingold, which may wind up being another post here. Look for it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Evolution Redux

As an update to this earlier post about evolution, I ran across this very interesting article which also mentions another key bit of evidence. A report on another nail in the coffin of "irreducible complexity," from WSJ:

To investigate this puzzle, biologists led by Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon reconstructed an ancestral receptor. They first analyzed receptors for steroid hormones in 59 species, including primitive jawless fish and skates. Then, in a process called gene resurrection, they worked backward to infer what the gene for the ancestral receptor was, and actually made the receptor in the lab: a molecule that last existed on earth 450 million years ago.

Testing various hormones on the ancestral receptor, the scientists found that both aldosterone and another one fit. The ancestral receptor, therefore, was fully employed acting as the keyhole for this second hormone. When aldosterone appeared on the scene by random mutation, it co-opted the existing receptor, the researchers conclude in today's issue of Science.

The findings, says Christoph Adami of the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, Claremont, Calif., "solidly refute" ID.

This is not the first such finding. Michael Behe's iconic bacterial flagellum was exploded a couple of years ago, when someone found a precursor structure -- with quite a different function -- that only needed the addition of one molecule to become the flagellum in question. Behe, of course, wily old sophist that he is, took the tack that the precursor was irreducibly complex. The stance on this new finding is that the receptor isn't really very complex at all, so it's irrelevant.

It's called making up the rules as you go along. It may make for good creationism, however you want to disguise it, but it ain't science.


The most interesting thing about blogging, to me at least, is that unless you are devoting a post to a single topic -- such as the vast strides the Christianists have made in the biological sciences -- you're never quite sure where things are going to lead. With that in mind. . . .

Beginning to See the Light:

This commentary from a correspondent at Andrew Sullivan gives me some hope:

But there is one great dividing line here, between you and me on one side, and BushWmilitia0410 and his cohort (and the Christianists and the Islamists and the scientific reductionists, and all the other -ists) on the other: the humility of a faith based on love, with its attendant qualities of acceptance, inclusion and non-violence, and the arrogance of a faith based on fear, with its attendant qualities of judgment, exclusion and, inevitably, violence.

It's mostly about Iraq and what a mess it has been from its inception, but I found the section quoted very interesting.

Particularly in light of this news:

The Wave of the Future:

From WaPo:

The once-mighty Christian Coalition, founded 17 years ago by the Rev. Pat Robertson as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right, is more than $2 million in debt, beset by creditors' lawsuits and struggling to hold on to some of its state chapters.

It seems that the organization's close identification with Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed, two tarnished angels at this point, was a real problem. And then there was its Voter's Guide.

After years of battling the IRS, the Christian Coalition reached a settlement a year ago that secures its status as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) lobbying and educational institution.

But the settlement requires the Christian Coalition to allow candidates to write up to 25 words of explanation on each issue in the voter guides. In the past, the guides listed topics such as "unrestricted abortion on demand" or "adoption of children by homosexuals" and described the candidates' positions simply as "supports" or "opposes."

It's so much easier when you can mislead people without being accountable for it.


This is one of those things that just stops me cold. From a story on an effective protest by the gay community in Philadelphia against an owner of a "gay-friendly" business who supports the Man-on-Dog Boy:

Gym officials noted at the time that Guzzardi was giving his own personal money

And where does anyone think his "own personal money" comes from?

And, since we're edging back into gay territory:

Feingold '08:

This column from Wayne Besen makes a lot of sense to me. The first comment just boils it all down into a comprehensible package (note to Wayne Besen: Brevity is the soul of wit):

When someone asks what Senator Feingold stands for it's there: Integrity even when it hurts; community because that means all of us - yes, even a place for the wingnuts, you gotta love 'em when they're where they ought to be, away from blunt objects and power switches, and told to be quiet when they get the least bit annoying; the American dream - being the envy of the world because we are creating a brighter future.

Remember when that was the promise of this country? Well, it's not too late. We will get there from being pragmatic, but not calculating, and from being true to our principles and never demeaning.

And maybe this is at least part of the answer to Scoot's little bit of nostalgia.

It's like I've said before. If it's going to happen, that means somebody has to do it.

This site is now officially endorsing Russell Feingold for president. And if there are any Democrats left who have any sort of balls, they're welcome to join us.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigration, Again

I'm going to take, I think, a little bit of a contrarian position on the whole immigration issue. I just read a post at AmericaBlog in which John Aravosis mentioned all the people coming to the demonstration in DC today to fight for their rights.

My question is, just what are those rights?

I'd obviously be really stupid to take an anti-immigration position -- most of my familiy were immigrants, except the one who (according to family history, at least) wandered into an empty continent a few thousand years ago.

I've just seen a lot of smokescreens and diversions happening on this whole issue, from the "send 'em all home" knee-jerks to the "give-them-all-citizenship-immediately" knee-jerks. Neither end seems very tenable.

I have to say, I may find myself agreeing with the president, at least in the broadest terms: we have to do something about the 11 million or so illegal aliens who are here, so why not put them into a program that will eventually lead to citizenship? Any jobs we might lose are already gone -- they're doing them right now. Why not have them paying their taxes, working their way into our society and maybe making a contribution aside from being cheap and easily exploitable labor? (The unions should be behind something like this 100%. No. I take that back -- they shouldn't be behind it, they should be leading it. Another indication that organized labor has outlived itself.)

And we have to tighten up on enforcement of immigration laws for those who have not crossed our borders. I don't think any country is required to open its doors to all and sundry -- no one else does. Why should we? But we have to have some sort of workable enforcement. Like maybe some draconian penalties for employers of illegals, after an amnesty period for enrollment in a guest worker program. Then, if a shop is employing illegals, nail them.

(Of course, I think there should also be heavy taxes on corporations that send jobs overseas. Massive. To pay for retraining programs, and maybe even public works. Our infrastructure is not in such great shape, after all. I don't see any reason corporate interests should be getting a free ride. Too many of them aren't paying any taxes at all.)

Spare me the fence on the border. I mean, really! Make it as unattractive as possible for those who are going to be employing illegal immigrants, and I think the illegal immigrants will find it not so attractive to be here.

Of course it's a stop-gap. That doesn't make it bad. It just gives us time to think of something better.

And also to get rid of this asshole who has done so much to screw the American worker already.

Something to think about, at least.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Fast and Dirty Post on the Christianists

Which just means that I'm not commenting -- call it a link dump, but a good one.

Andrew Sullivan defends his use of the term "Christianist" here.

That is my intent with the term "Christianist" and "Christianism." The truth is: I do not recognize my own Christianity or the Christianity of millions in the blasphemous words of Tom DeLay or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. These individuals are political figures, using faith as a weapon to advance a political agenda that aims at policing people's moral lives, removing people's civil rights, and marginalizing minorities.

He also cites this piece by Gary Wills.

THERE is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is a politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

Oddly enough, unless you are a proponent of synchronicity in the doings of the universe, today also brought this, forwarded from a friend in Australia.

Last month Wallis launched his book in Britain, which is even more secular than Australia. He says BBC listeners were surprised and delighted to find an American Christian telling them he didn't think God was American or a Republican whose only agenda was abortion and gay marriage. Young people poured into bookshops to meet him. Non-Christians thanked him for making them feel welcome.

With, you will note, money quotes.

Next time. . . .


I have a very busy day today, but I did want to call attention to this article by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker. Read the whole thing.

From those wonderful folks who brought you The War On Terror.

OK -- this is too grim. We need a cheerful picture.

This is Zygopetalum crinitum. Very dramatic flowers, and some of them smell like hyacinths -- just what you need on a chilly day.

Friday, April 07, 2006

At Random, 4/7/06

Actually, things I've noticed over the past couple of days:

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead:

Tom DeLay is "retiring." Get this editorial from today's WaPo (which may actually be yesterday's, at this point):

"This is probably the worst day of his campaign," Mr. DeLay, speaking on Fox News yesterday, said with an air of grim satisfaction of his Democratic opponent, former representative Nick Lampson. The Texas Republican had been repeatedly admonished by the House ethics committee; he is under indictment in Texas on charges of funneling illegal corporate contributions to state legislators; and he is entangled in a federal probe that has produced guilty pleas from two of his former staffers. It's much tougher for Democrats to flog their "culture of corruption" message when they can no longer kick around "Representative #2," as he's been identified in the charges against his former aides.

Well, let's buy right in to DeLay's talking points. Of course this is BS: Lampson is faced with a Republican party that's scrambling to fill a sudden vacancy, that is itself tarred with the corruption scandals, in a district in which, in spite of gerrymandering, DeLay's numbers were sinking. I mean, what are their best bets in this? The candidates who lost the primary? We saw that happen in Illinois last election: state Republicans came up with a wingnut who could only carry the hardcore nutcases (which in Illinois, regrettably, is about 30%; still, that's less than the rest of the country, on average).

Mr. DeLay in his heyday got a lot done, but at a terrible cost to the institution -- and, we would argue, the party -- that he helped lead. Will the new leadership be more respectful of the rights of the minority, more willing to permit debate on the House floor, more willing to restrict cushy travel and other perks? That's far from clear. The gushing statements yesterday from Mr. DeLay's replacement as leader, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) -- "one of the most effective and gifted leaders the Republican Party has ever known . . . has served our nation with integrity and honor" -- reflected not much embarrassment about Mr. DeLay, nor about DeLayism.

Boehner's comments are laughable, and of course, entirely expected. The writer is absolutely correct to be dubious about any changes, but not because of that: the Republicans have been beyond embarrassment for quite awhile now. The point is, neither Republicans nor Democrats have any real interest in reforming Congress. We've seen that already. The Democrats are just trying to figure out how to make K Street a Democratic enclave.

Nit Attack:

From 365gay.com:

The possibility of ending LGBT protections to workers delighted the American Family Association which is boycotting Ford over the company's advertising in the gay media.

"I find Ford's logic in asking the SEC to omit the resolution interesting," AFA Chairman Don Wildmon said in a statement.

"In essence Ford is saying they are concerned that a boycott by homosexual groups would financially hurt the company, but the boycott by the pro-family groups will not."

Based on empirical evidence, yes -- look at the success of gay boycotts of Florida citrus products versus AFA's boycott of Disney. Duh.

This resolution will go right down the tubes. The NY State Local Retirement System is going to be a hard bloc to defeat, and it will vote against the resolution. Count on it.

Anothe Nit Attack:

Again, from 365gay.com:

"In total disregard for the Constitution, homosexual activists in positions of authority in San Francisco are abusing their authority as government officials and misusing the instruments of government to attack the Catholic Church," said Robert Muise, the Thomas More Law Center attorney handling the suit.

"This egregious abuse of power is an outrage and a clear violation of the First Amendment."

Of course, Mitt Romney, who is trying to amend Massachusetts law to bring it in line with Catholic doctrine, is perfectly OK.

And that a-hole Huckabee (Arkansas) has the nerve to claim that the Christianists are not trying to turn this country into a theocracy.

Speaking of Which. . . .

Church wars: two related stories from NYT. In the first, UCC fights back:

Although some mainline Christians feel energized by the new toughness, others worry that such an approach could threaten the very pluralism that the mainline churches have come to stand for and the gospel of love that so many preach.

"I think this is a dangerous place to be," said Mr. Sharen of Yale. "You stand to lose the integrity of 'turn the other cheek.' "

The problem with that is, if you turn the other cheek too often, you wind up losing your face. Wake up, Mister -- the Institute for Religion and Democracy is not interested in integrity, and that's who you're fighting.

And in the other, somehow the IRS is involved:

A group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code.

The IRS, of course, denies it, when it bothers to respond at all. The problem is, the IRS has been politicized before. Problem, Part 2: of course it's going to deny it, no matter what the truth is.

I find it very strange, however, that a liberal church in California would be investigated for an anti-war sermon, but the complaints against the Catholic Archdioceses of Boston and Chicago for direct lobbying against gay rights bills get no reaction, not to mention the churches in Ohio.

Strange, no?

And, in a related story (I see a relationship -- think about it for a minute.):

New Gospels:

The Gospel of Judas. It's apparently all over the press; here's the NYT story.

Sparked a thread at Epinions Addicts. I'm just going to plop in my comment, which received the approval of at least one member whose opinion I respect:

My understanding is that the Bible as presently composed is the result of conscious decisions to exclude certain writings and include others based on their support of Church teaching at that time. I also seem to remember hearing that the Catholic and Protestant Bibles are not the same.

Also, dating writings from that period or earlier is difficult, not in terms of the physical object itself, but in terms of sources or antecedents; given that most of the New Testaments only survives in copies, that would seem to be a generally applicable problem, so that the question of whether the accepted books are contemporaneous or nearly so and those not accepted are later would seem to be moot from an archaeological standpoint. About all anyone can say with any surety, it would seem to me is "this is the earliest extant example." (Yes, I understand that stylistic and linguistic cues can fix dates fairly accurately, but they don't really give a definitive indication of origins -- there is always the possibility of discovering an earlier version.)

As for the role of Judas in the Crucifixion, that whole story has some of the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. The point is, Judas betrayed Christ, for motivations not clearly understood, and in remorse killed himself.* Whether the details accurately reflect historical fact (which we simply cannot know) and divine will (and that is going to be a matter of faith), they certainly reflect artistic necessity.

Even assuming, as the article does, that the manuscripts are genuine, I don't expect it to change anyone's theology, which is, after all, based on careful editing of sources to begin with. Just keep in mind that "orthodoxy" is determined by those who have the power to make their opinions stick -- call it the theological variant on "the victors write the histories."

(* And, based on some other controversial ideas that have come out recently, it could have been spurned love and jealous revenge.)

OK, folks. That's it for today.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another Nail in the Coffin

From the Creation Science website:

There are no transitional links and intermediate forms in either the fossil record or the modern world. Therefore, there is no actual evidence that evolution has occurred either in the past or the present.

You'd think these people would get tired of being wrong. This is not only yet another rebuttal, it's pretty exciting news: from NYT:

Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

It's still a fish, unlike Archaeopteryx, which was classified as a bird because it had feathers. Now we know that some dinosaurs had feathers. But this one, Tiktaalik roseae is just as much a transitional fossil as Archie.

Dr. Shubin's team played down the fossil's significance in the raging debate over Darwinian theory, which is opposed mainly by some conservative Christians in this country, but other scientists were not so reticent. They said this should undercut the argument that there is no evidence in the fossil record of one kind of creature becoming another kind. . . .

Duane T. Gish, a retired official of the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, said, "This alleged transitional fish will have to be evaluated carefully." But he added that he still found evolution "questionable because paleontologists have yet to discover any transitional fossils between complex invertebrates and fish, and this destroys the whole evolutionary story."

Gish, as usual, is full of beans, and he's being fairly dishonest about it. The point is, we haven't found that particular sequence of fossiels yet. We may never find them, the processes of fossilization and discovery being what they are. That's doesn't mean those creatures never existed. The present-day lack of a transition between invertebrates and vertebrates isn't a problem for evolution, even if it is a problem for idiots like Gish. (And how is he going to prove they didn't exist? He can't.)

To go back to our original quote: in the face of examples such as Archaeopteryx, a whole group of transitional whales, a solid sequence of fossil horses, and now this, (and there are more) when you keep insisting on something that's not objectively true, that makes you either a nutcase or a liar -- or both.

The evidence is there:

Archaeopteryx lithographica:

And a reconstruction:

Mesohippus (notice the toes):

And Ambulocetus, a whale that walked:

And, as a closing comment, it's really a sad statement about the state of America today when a news article on an important fossil find has to cater to the whackjobs on the ignorant right by even mentioning them. We used to have a thing in this country called journalism. C'mon guys -- the find itself is news enough. Are you trying to generate some controversy by interviewing charlatans like Gish, who have been completely discredited?


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

At Random, 4/4/06

Why I Seldom Read Right-Wing Bloggers #432:

From Tbogg. the Grand Master of Snark, quoting the Salvador Dali of right wing bloggers, John Hinderaker (except, of course, from all appearances Hinderaker is not smart enough to be compared to Dali):

It's too bad, I think. DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years. It's possible, of course, that he did something wrong along the way. But there is no evidence of that in the public domain; as I've often said, the politically-inspired prosection of DeLay by Travis County's discredited DA, Ronnie Earle, is a bad joke. As far as we can tell at the moment, DeLay appears to be yet another victim of the Democrats' politics of personal destruction--the only politics they know.

I'm afraid my sense of humor is too quiet for me to spend a lot of time reading shills like Hinderaker. I also prefer my fantasy with more substantial literary quality -- say, Glen Cook rather than Robert Jordan -- and I don't have a lot of patience with overt self-indulgence.

Besides, if people are going to set themselves up as political commentators, they should have some sort of contact with reality, shouldn't they?

Well, Actually. . . .

From Andrew Sullivan.

On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 AM, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again.

Actually, as Sullivan later notes, it happens every hundred years. And, if you want to kick the sequence up a number, it happens every year -- 02:03:04 05/06/07, for example. That is, until you get more than twelve years into the new century (unless you use military time, I guess, in which case . . . oh, to hell with it. You get the idea.)

But it's sort of neat anyway.

I'm Still Waiting

For a rational argument against same-sex marriage.

Just so you know.

Scalia Redux

Or, simply another way to arrive at the same answer. From Chris Lamparello at Wayne Besen:

Fast forward 200 years. (Yep, over 200 years has passed, Judge.) We now know that people who fall in love with members of their own sex exist as a class. This changes the entire debate, and dramatically so! But some people, Judge Scalia among them, don't want to acknowledge this change. The idea that the principles behind the constitution are as worthwhile as the constitution itself are lost on him.



Pam at Pam's House Blend is asking for volunteers to help formulate a response to this bizarre character. I'm not really very good at dealing with smug, self-important stupidity, but if you can come up with something civilized, by all means jump in.

OK -- later. I have reviews to churn out today. And it looks as though we might actually be having a spring day on a day I don't have to work in an office.