Archive for December, 2007

We’ll Be Right Back

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Flying to Houston this morning for a family emergency.

Be good to one another.

OK, fine, you can be mean to the stupid people.

Update: Hi again. It’s me. I’m in Houston now. Just letting you know that my immediate family is fine, no crisis in the WWR household. Will talk more later. Thanks for the comments and emails.

Why Doesn’t the Population Appreciate Science?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

It could be because articles such as this from Popular Science say precisely nothing of value:

Evolution isn’t finished with us. Scientists using data from the HapMap Project, a large scale effort to identify variations in human genes, have discovered evidence that evolution is actually accelerating.

Granted, we’re not talking about the decade scale here. Compared to your grandparents you’re not some kind of advanced mutant.

But anthropologist Henry Harpending of the University of Utah, a co-author of the new study, says there have been significant changes in the last 1,000 or 2,000 years.

The rate of evolution is far greater then in the last few millenia, Harpending and his colleagues say, then it had been in the millions of years before. One of the possible causes of the acceleration, the scientists assert, may be the population boom.

With more people, there’s a greater likelihood that an advantageous genetic mutation will arise, and spread. Others contest the group’s conclusions. Either way, this probably isn’t the last controversial or groundbreaking idea we’re going to hear about from the HapMap Project.

Aside from the shameful use of “then” in place of “than,” this article suffers in that it says nothing at all.

Short version: “This group thinks human evolution is accelerating” and “this other group thinks that’s bollocks.”

Wow, insights on science, indeed!

My Favorite Comments of the Evening

Friday, December 14th, 2007

In response to this post on Saudi women who – out of view of their menfolk and the Imams – like to get naked on camera, commenter (and seeker of Saudi porn) Billy Mac said:

saudi naked women are the most beautiful in the world, the only problem is I DONT SEE ANY

…followed by…

Saudi naked women on web cam where are there or is this a fake web site, thats whatnit looks like to me and i will broadcast it everyewere dont waste your time here like i have for the better part of 45 minutesw.

Excuse the spelling in the comments; one can’t expect too much from a one-handed typist, can one?

That Pesky Old Testament

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Normally, when I get into arguments with Christians about the rampant insanity of the Old Testament – you know, stoning kids for their rebelliousness, punishments for wearing mixed fibers, that kind of thing – they tend to say “that was the Old Testament and now we live under the New Testament” and move right along to some other topic of discussion.

Because, surely, no one is crazy or stupid or misanthropic enough to suggest that slaughtering children for refusing to obey their parents is a good and moral thing, right?

Well, generally, that’s correct in our modern age.

But then you find people like right wing yahoo. And, if nothing else, he’s chosen an apt moniker.

Remember, good people – as always – these sick individuals walk among us.

Scary, isn’t it?

Mike Huckabee says “I Don’t Know Much About That Subject, But Allow Me to Expound Upon It Anyway”

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Oh man, Mike Huckabee suggested that Mormons think Jesus and Satan are siblings:

In the article, a preview of which is posted on the New York Times Web site, the former Arkansas governor [Huckabee] is quoted as asking, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

The remark came after New York Times reporter Zev Chafets asked Huckabee whether he thought Mormonism was a religion or a cult. Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, said he thought it was the former but conceded he doesn’t “know much about it.” The article is to appear in Sunday’s paper.

Look, can’t we leave the man alone?

After all, he accepts the completely rational and demonstrable belief that God designed the universe and then had a virgin give birth to a slice of Himself so that He could sacrifice Himself to Himself to absolve His creation of the sins that resulted from the universe He designed with full knowledge of how it would all unfold.

Clearly, Huckabee is a man of science and reason, the very best example of an inquisitive mind.

Isn’t that enough?

All of this religious nonsense among men who want to be the leader of the free world is an insult to every enlightened step humanity has made. The calendar might say it’s the 21st century, but the American political system – and the bulk of the American electorate – has yet to join us (and I blame that for the lack of flying cars with laser cannons and weekend trips to the moon and fabulous Spandex jumpsuits and meals in a pill and teleporters and, uh, those cars with laser cannons again, dumb ol’ religious people).

Mike Huckabee Knows Jesus AND Physics

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Perhaps some angels visited and gave him the secret to a perpetual motion machine.

Wow!

Can I just go ahead and vote now?

Personal Responsibility

Monday, December 10th, 2007

I think the security guard who gunned down the killer at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs yesterday did a valiant thing.

However, this is just nuts:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Jeanne Assam appeared before the news media for the first time Monday and said she “did not think for a minute to run away” when a gunman entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and started shooting.

There was applause as Assam spoke to reporters and TV cameras saying, “God guided me and protected me.”

Assam said she believes God gave her the strength to confront Murray, keeping her calm and focused even though he appeared to be twice her size and was more heavily armed.

Uh, you’re a security guard.

With a gun.

That you’ve hopefully been trained how to use effectively.

Your job is to provide security for all those people around you, most of whom do not have guns.

If we have to count on God to be there rather than our security guards, what hope do we have?

Once again, the Almighty gets it wrong, seeing fit to give courage to a security guard, while looking away from the bullets that felled two of his followers.

Color me unimpressed.

Ms. Assam – don’t sell yourself short. There was only one hero that day, and it was you.

A person, a gun, and the training to use it in a time of need.

No God(s) needed – or present.

Blame Halliburton The Victim

Monday, December 10th, 2007

And speaking of due process, I think it’s called for in this rape accusation out of Iraq:

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.

Nevermind that the story involves Iraq, Halliburton, sex crimes, and an attractive woman, I still don’t understand posts such as this from people who, fairly often anyway, I align with politically.

I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, but this story just sound so…. well…. er … far-fetched.

Not the rape part–rape happens all the time (gang rapes, not so much, but occasionally). Not the cover up part–cover ups happen all the time. Not the corporation trying to cover ass part–CYAs happen all the time. Not the administration is covering up part–administrations cover things up all the time.

But combine gang rape + cover up + corporate malfeasance + political intrigue and you have the perfect story. Throw in a crusading lawyer using civil law to find justice when criminal courts have let the victim down and you have the perfect John Grisham book.

Now name KBR, Haliburton, Bush, & set the story in Iraq and you have more than a blockbuster movie pitch– you also have the perfect conspiracy.

What could be more salacious than this? I can’t think of a single thing.

It’s perfect. Too perfect.

Such a response strikes me as no more rational or proper than the idiots on the left who will be screaming “Chimpy McHalliburton knew about it! In fact, he ordered it! And Dick Cheney wanted to watch!” Particularly when the article has this to say about the help provided by a Republican Representative:

Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,'” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told ABCNews.com, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.

…and on the wishes of KBR to conduct private arbitration rather than a public hearing on the matter:

In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.

“Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom,” said Rep. Poe. “That’s why we have courts in the United States.”

Well, no, in the America of Bush II (can I rescind my vote?), we have private contractors operating outside of the law, we have secret military tribunals for people detained as long as the government may wish without charge, and we have the expectation that people can properly be defended when they don’t know the evidence against them, but hey, we’re the land of the free and the home of the brave and Mom and apple pie and Chevrolet Amen Baby Jesus.

So I’m told*.

I think there’s certainly enough here to warrant further investigation, without insinuating that it’s all about conspiracy or fame or money, but then I’m just a moron (at least judging by the characterization made of those who dare question “Dr. Rusty Shackleford” and his conspiracy-o-meter).

More: From here:

May 3, 2007- I was told by the state department that my rape kit was missing. The state department had previously ensured both of my parents that the rape kit had made it back to Washington before I even arrived back to the US . I had my mom call the state department to refresh their memories.

May 4, 2007- The rape kit was found, however the pictures of the bruises and the doctor’s notes from that day were still (and are currently) missing.

May 8, 2007- I received a letter of determination from the EEOC stating that their investigation determined in my favor stating that I was “indeed sexually assaulted by one or more of the Respondent employees and physical trauma was apparent. Respondent’s investigation was inadequate and did not effect an adequate remedy”. Due to the reason that the management didn’t investigate my housing situation, the EEOC found a violation against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

…and, charmingly..

May 31, 2007- Lynn Falanga called me to tell me that the AUSA took on my case as an “intake” so that they could investigate my case diligently. In regards to the missing pictures and doctor’s notes that were taken in Baghdad Lynn Falanga and I both called the doctor that performed the rape kit. The doctor stated to both of us that “I have no idea which rape victum you are because so many young contractor girls were raped after drinking with the guys” she also stated that “I performed so many rape kits in the six months that I was stationed there that there would be no way to recall whom yours was.”

* And, you know, I actually do think we are a wonderful country and a great people, even when we’re being mislead by idiots or cons or some disastrous combination of the two.

I’m in a New Jersey State of Mind

Monday, December 10th, 2007

There aren’t many reasons to envy New Jersey, but here’s one I heard about today:

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – New Jersey moved closer to eliminating the death penalty on Monday when its Senate and an Assembly committee voted in favor of making life in prison without parole the state’s top criminal penalty.

I believe the death penalty is a just punishment for a variety of serious crimes; however, I also believe the state is incapable of applying the punishment in a manner that is (a) equitable and (b) sure not to execute an innocent man or woman along the way. To paraphrase, it’s better to see ten guilty monsters spend their lives in prison than for one innocent man to have his life end with an injection.

I also realize that in a number of cases, there will be confessions to the heinous crimes committed, some certainly coerced, the bulk most likely not. However, this brings us back to the same problem of deciding a line of sufficient evidence to take a life, and that line will necessarily be flawed with the same disorders that prevent the state from guaranteeing that only the guilty die.

Such is the process of due process.

So, yes, I’m just as revolted as everyone else by the crimes of rapists and murderers and molesters and the like. I’m not, however, willing to trade the slaughter of an innocent to satiate the bloodlust of a victim, of society, or of myself, when an alternative that keeps us just as safe (assuming truth in sentencing), that attains the same result sans personal, vengeful gratification of the aggrieved, is available.

For those of you that would, imagine a day when perhaps it is you lying on the executioner’s table, needle in your arm, thinking “I did not do this!”

Well, yeah, but hey – so sorry! – we got those ten real bad guys so we’re nine up on the plus side!

We Like the Moon, Cos It Was Made by God!

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Why do evangelical types hate science so much?

Baby Jesus may not be crying, but I sure am.