New Ideas In Science

A new poll of 2,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center had some incredibly disturbing results:

Nearly two-thirds of those in a Pew Research Center poll, 64 percent, say they believe “creationism” should be taught alongside “evolution”…

“…alongside evolution”, meaning in Science class, as opposed to in Religion class.

In the poll by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of those surveyed held strict “creationism” views that “living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

That’s right, 4 out of every 10 Americans believe that humans and dinosaurs and everything else in Creation, so to speak, have existed since the beginning of time! And in case you’re wondering, a Gallup poll found that this “Strict Creationist” group put the Beginning of Time at roughly 10,000 years ago, about six orders of magnitude smaller than the actual evidence indicates.

A good friend of mine made the comment, upon hearing these results, that people who could believe that could believe anything; you could delude them into to thinking or doing anything. It’s nothing short of a wake-up call, an America on the brink of decline, the Enlightenment finally extinguished.

Read the Full Pew Research Survey at Pew Forum
August 30, 2005

Read the Full Gallup Poll at
November 19, 2004

Who’s Paying for Our Patriotism?

Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt wrote a fantastic article for The Washington Post the other day. Here are some excerpts, but you’d much better read the original full column; it’s well worth it.

President Bush assures us that the ongoing twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are worth the sacrifices they entail. Editorialists around the nation agree and say that a steadfast American public was willing to stay the course.

Should anyone be surprised by this national resolve, given that these wars visit no sacrifice of any sort — neither blood nor angst nor taxes — on well over 95 percent of the American people?

At most, 500,000 American troops are at risk of being deployed to these war theaters at some time. Assume that for each of them some 20 members of the wider family sweat with fear when they hear that a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan or that X number of soldiers or Marines were killed or seriously wounded in Iraq. It implies that no more than 10 million Americans have any real emotional connection to these wars.

When our son, then a recent Princeton graduate, decided to join the Marine Corps in 2001, I advised him thus: “Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded.” The intervening years have not changed my views; they have reaffirmed them.

Three days after this piece was published in The Washington Post, Mr. Reinhardt’s son was seriously injured in an attack that killed a buddy of his in his unit. He was flown off to Germany; apparently, he’ll be fine.

Read the Full Story in The Washington Post
August 1, 2005

Rachel Maddow All This Week on The Al Franken Show

The wonderful, wonderful Rachel Maddow will be guest-hosting The Al Franken Show all this week. I absolutely adore her, and listen to her regular Rachel Maddow Show via MP3 or by podcast on iTunes every weekday — but not this week!

This week, she (and the incomparable Kent Jones) are subbing for Al Franken and Katherine Lanpher, while Isaac-Davy Aronson subs for Rachel and Kent on their early-morning show.

If you don’t know Rachel, here’s a bio, cadged from Air America’s web site.

Check out her degrees!

Rachel Maddow hosts Air America Radio’s national morning drive news program, “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Launched in April 2005, “The Rachel Maddow Show” airs weekdays 5AM-6AM (Eastern) on dozens of Air America Radio stations, as well as nationally online and on XM Radio.

Rachel has a Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University and a degree in Public Policy from Stanford. She was the first openly gay American to win a Rhodes Scholarship.

Her background is in commercial radio (WRSI, WRNX) and political activism.

Prior to launching “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Rachel co-hosted Air America’s “Unfiltered” with Chuck D and Lizz Winstead.

Perhaps more importantly, Rachel knows how to make a Pegu Club Cocktail, enjoys appearing on right-wing TV shows as the smiling-but-obstinate liberal, loves her parents, and thinks AMTRAK hot dogs are a national treasure.

She lives in Western Massachusetts and New York City, with her partner, artist Susan Mikula, and their outstanding dog.

You may also know Rachel for her appearances on MSNBC’s The Situation with Tucker Carlson, for which she has received great reviews, including this one.

This week’s shows are also available via MP3, August 29, 2005-September 2, 2005.

You May See A Muster

We live in Sunland, in California, and for years I would walk around the streets near the foothills at night, and hear these eerie tropical animal calls. And what would make crazy jungle calls in Los Angeles, you ask?

Hint: they sometimes say to the family, “Hey, kids, everybody onto the car!”

Click on the picture for a larger image. How many Peacocks can you count?

Sean’s comment: “Hey, that’s my paint!”

Sell! Sell! Sell!

It strains credulity, seeing how badly people were burned in the dot bomb fiasco, as they rode everything from Enron to eToys merrily down to zero, but rather than being gun-shy, people are just being the same damn idiots that they were before, but this time with real estate.

It’s almost unbelievable the number of people that I know who have bought, or held onto, second and third homes as speculative investments. Don’t they understand that buying real estate is like buying stock on margin? If you buy a $1,000,000 home with $200,000 down, and then the home’s value falls by 20%, well, you’ve been wiped out! You’ve lost your entire investment! But all people see is that, on the contrary, if the home’s price rises by 20%, you’ll have doubled your money.

Well, it’s over.

SAN DIEGO — When the housing market here was red-hot 18 months ago, Alex Flores could buy a downtown condominium with as little as $5,000 down and sell it six months later for a tidy profit of $200,000.

Now, Flores says, those easy-money days are over.

Flores, a self-described real estate “flipper,” is trying to sell two condos. But neither has drawn an offer after being on the market for more than a month, even though he’s willing to break even on one and reduce the price on the other.

“It’s getting trickier now,” said Flores, 30, who became a full-time property investor three years ago after a short career as a senior financial analyst for a movie studio. “Everyone thinks this has peaked.”

Ha Ha! “After a short career as a [26-year-old?] senior financial analyst.” Did he ever spend any time as a junior financial analyst? And now, he and his kind are speculating in real estate?

Look, the market is getting soft, and this guy has two condos on the market, and he’s hoping to achieve a net loss on the pair of them. But no takers yet, after a month.

Oh, man, watch out, the sky is falling.

Full Story at the Los Angeles Times.

The Toyota Mark II of Freedom

Basra, an oil port in southern Iraq, has long been held up as a big success story of British occupation. Its police are well funded, and their morale is high.

Independent journalist Steven Vincent wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times from there four days ago, which added to the ever-increasing number of stories coming out of Basra about the rise of religious extremism, corruption, and death squads there:

At the city’s university, for example, self-appointed monitors patrol the campuses, ensuring that women’s attire and makeup are properly Islamic. “I’d like to throw them off the grounds, but who will do it?” a university administrator asked me. “Most of our police belong to the same religious parties as the monitors.”

Similarly, the director of Basra’s maternity hospital, Mohammad Nasir, told me that he frequently catches staff members pilfering equipment to sell to private hospitals, but hesitates to call the police: “How do I know what religious party they are affiliated with, and what their political connection is to the thieves?”

It is particularly troubling that sectarian tensions are increasing in Basra, which has long been held up as the brightest spot of the liberated Iraq. “Are the police being used for political purposes?” asked Jamal Khazal Makki, the head of the Basra branch of the Sunni-dominated Islamic Party. “They arrest people and hold them in custody, even though the courts order them released. Meanwhile, the police rarely detain anyone who belongs to a Shiite religious party.”

An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations – mostly of former Baath Party members – that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of “death car”: a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment.

In rebutal, the Iraqis shot him in the head a few days later, which only goes to show. [Can we all please go home now?]

Steven Vincent was the author of “In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq.”

Full Op-Ed at The New York Times
July 31, 2005

Steven Vincent’s blog:
In The Red Zone