Friday, September 30, 2005
"Today a Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme. This is the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Republicans since yesterday."Well put. Crooks, crooks, crooks. "The Republican Party: Making Kleptocrats and Mafia Bosses Look Clean by Comparison". Ok, so I lose the slogan competition.
Somehow I managed to miss the news that a graduate student at Ohio State was about to defend a dissertation looking at the effects of teaching ID creationism and evolution to high school students.
The first question one should raise in such a situation is how is it ethical for the university to be involved in teaching students something that is scientifically unsupported. What sort of lapse was made by the human subjects oversight committee?
The second question is more subtle. Two of the student's committee members were the only two OSU facility to have come out in favour of ID. Ok, fair enough - people can constitute their own committees. But, the School of Teaching and Learning requires that two committee members must come from the science education programme, and that the committee members should reflect the expertise needed for the dissertation. Neither of these were true - none of the committee members met either criterion.
It makes you wonder - was it an underhand scheme by the student, or was it a cynical ploy by the committee members? You see this more and more - dishonest actions by ID'ers to try to claim scientific credentials. They (mostly) claim to be Christians, but they turn out to be using lies and deceit to further their agenda. Makes you wonder what side they're really on.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
It's interesting to see what Phillip Johnson has to say about defeating materialistic science. Methodolical naturalism (= methodological materialism) is the basis of science - that you have to limit yourself to "materialistic" explanations in science. It doesn't matter whether you believe in the supernatural or not - as a scientist you need to limit yourself to known or knowable physical processes. Sure, you can propose new processes, hopefully they will be something you can measure (which is the problem with string theory, of course, because there may not be any way to measure strings). But if you move beyond methodological materialism, into the type of science Johnson wants, you create irrefutable hypotheses. Which means, you have no science, no medicine, know way to distinguishing truth from fiction.
Imagine your doctor including the supernatural in his diagnosis. If you can't rule out demonic possession, or a curse, you need to attack the matter on all fronts. Which means, I suspect, that every hospital would have to hire a few pundits (given the number of Hindu doctors). If Johnson was serious about this, he should be advocating this. I'd love to see that.
Monday, September 26, 2005
I suppose not every Rethuglican is a racist or a nut. Some of them are driven by something very different - a fear of change, failure to adapt to a changing world. Much like What's the Matter with Kansas, the question of why the working class, acting against their own interests, go out of their way to support the crooked Bushite kleptocracy. Being adrift in a world you can't control, you look for a 'regular guy'. Of course, why they choose the elitist, draft-dodging Yalie is another question. But they see him as their man, for some incomprehensible reason.
How do you drag people out of their holes? This dissociation from reality is widespread. People follow leaders who lie to them and tell them what they want to hear, rally them behind the flag and jingoistic nationalism, tell them that they can embrace the simplicity of the biblical creation story as if it were the literal truth...drawing the lines in the culture war between progressives and regressives. The made-up idealised 1950s, when black people could be freely lynched, when women were not people, when my marriage and the marriage that produced me would have been illegal in parts of the US... These are the things that progressives must deal with.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I wish I had tried to contact Anson beforehand. I don't know where he was. I sure hope he was home, and not in the Gulf or Indonesia or somewhere like that. I'm sure there were people in from Houston who were halfway around the world drilling for oil while their families were left alone to face Rita. It's tragic for the towns that Rita did hit, but I am glad that it did not hit one of the bigger cities where so many more people would have been affected.
That's not a reassuring way of looking at things really. I remember talking to Gus on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. To me, death and destruction on that scale is horrible, without any redeeming factor. And then Gus said that the bombing saved his life...he was a prisoner in a Japanese camp in Indonesia, and was scheduled to be shipped off the next day to a forced labour camp...a mine, I can't recall the name...that was simply a black hole, a place where no one survived. It gives you perspective. Rita not hitting Galveston and Houston means ruined lives elsewhere.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I suppose I write here out of a desire to be read. I'm not sure if I have anything worth saying, but that's entirely beside the point. The medium allows anyone to "publish" - without editors, without a need to have anything to say. But if you want to be read, shouldn't you try to get people to read what you write? There's the rub. The only way that I could reasonably generate traffic my way would be to post a link on my Wikipedia user page. Wikipedia being what it is, and my standing in the community being what it is, I know I would get at least a few readers. Unfortunately, it would serve to draw my Wikipedia identity closer to my real-world identity. And that might not be good. Safe to hide behind the cloak of anonymity I can be as outspoken as I want to be. Breach that security, and I become that much more visiable.
Why does it matter if my Wiki-identity is matched with my real-world identity? One reason is the whole job-search idea. Someone has posted as the Chronicle a piece entitled "bloggers need not apply". The idea that blogs are likely to hurt your job search. If blogs might hurt, then who knows how my Wikipedia contribution might be viewed...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Before the 2000 elections, the NYTimes published a story about how Bush had run seven companies into the ground. Now, as predicted, he has run the country into the ground too. Granted, I never imagined he could have done so spectacular a job. I remember when Reagan was a corrupt, war-mongering failure who ran the country into recession and brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. But at least Reagan had the excuse of Alzheimer's. And, at a fundamental level, Reagan still had something of a connection with ordinary people. He was not the imperious one - he had Maggie to fill that role. Hmm - I never thought of that - George Bush combines the worst of Reagan and Thatcher, and has none of their good qualities. Well, I suppose Blair just doesn't have enough of a spine left to have anyone's bad qualities...
America must recall the president. That's what this country needs. A good, old-fashioned, California-style recall election! Complete with Gary Coleman, porno actresses and action film stars... but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.
You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.
Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky!
I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
It's really interesting to watch a little bit of the confirmation hearings. It makes me realise how easily I am convinced of basic goodness of people. It seems odd to say that, given my antipathy to people like Bush and Patrick, but it's true. I have no desire to see Roberts confirmed. Based on what I have read, he is almost certainly an awful choice for a Supreme Court justice, let alone Chief Justice. Forget about his opposition to Roe - he has shown himself to be anti-environment and, if not a racist, certainly a comfortable "fellow traveller" with them. And yet, listening to his confirmation hearings he sounds like an eminently reasonable person. Of course, that was also my reaction to Rumsfeld during the Abu Ghraib torture hearings. But then, I realise that I have a tendency to take statements (and people) at face value, at least initially. I collect and store data, and only process it later, when I need to. That really isn't the best way to read scientific articles, of course.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
One thing that definitely brings on denial is Hurricane Ophelia. What makes matters worse is looking at all the other storms brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The only thing you can do is block it out.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
"Now, for you people who are saying, `Well, stop pointing fingers at the president...left-wing...the media's being too hard:
No. SHUT...UP! No! This is inarguably---inarguably---a failure of leadership from the top of the federal government.
Remember when Bill Clinton went out with Monica Lewinsky? That was inarguably a failure of judgment at the top. Democrats had to come out and risk losing credibility if they did not condemn Bill Clinton for his behavior. I believe Republicans are in the same position right now. And I will say this: Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. The only difference is that tens of thousands of people weren't stranded in Monica Lewinsky's vagina."
- Jon Stewart
- Keith Olbermann
- Howard Dean
- Al Gore
On the other side, giving credit where credit is due, David Brooks continues to say some intelligent things about Katrina. So I suppose it proves that he is neither stupid nor evil, just an ideologue with some level of human compassion. Of course, I remember the good old days when Safire praised Gore and dismissed Bush. But then he fell into total attack mode, and by the time his writing was not only hackery, it was devoid of thoughtfulness and intelligence. Let's hope that Brooks continues to let humanity get the better of him for a while. Maybe some of it will stick...
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Gore accompanies about 140 arrivals from New Orleans but declines to take creditLooks like he's the only person who heeded Mayor Nagin's call for "no more press conferences".
From the Knoxville News Sentinel
About 140 people - mostly elderly and infirm - arrived Saturday at McGhee Tyson Airport on a chartered mercy flight from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, welcomed to East Tennessee by a bright sun and a host of medical professionals straining at the reins to help their fellow human beings without regard to whether they were on the clock.
Former Vice President Al Gore arranged the flight and was on board, but he declined to take credit for the airlift, fearing it would be "politicized."
Monday, September 05, 2005
It's bad enough that the preznit leaves Washington for 5 weeks, but now we know that when Katrina hit there apparently wasn't enough of any stature still in charge. When the president is away shouldn't someone be manning the phones, just in case?Has anyone seen Cheney yet?
WaPo has a telling quote from none less than William Kristol:
"Almost every Republican I have spoken with is disappointed" in Bush's performance, said William Kristol, a conservative columnist with close White House ties. "He is a strong president . . . but he has never really focused on the importance of good execution. I think that is true in many parts of his presidency."What is "strength" if it doesn't include execution? He's a strong leader but he isn't good at getting things done? Isn't that a bit of an oxymoron, unless of course, if when you say "strong leader" you mean "bully".
Sunday, September 04, 2005
But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.
Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.
I'm glad I got to see the city, if only briefly, this summer. We almost didn't stop - it was raining, Linz was tired, we thought we would always have a chance to come back later. Maybe we will, I hope they rebuild. New Orleans is a cultural treasure. Was, at least, and I sincerely hope will be again.
Ok, so I am wrong. I thought I was beyond blaming things. George Wills says that this strikes at Bush's strength, at the perception that he is decisive. It's incomprehensible to me that Bush could be seen as decisive, after 9-11, when he dithered and then abandoned his post and ran and hid...but that's beside the point. For whatever reason, people saw Bush as decisive. Up until now. I still believe in the Republican spin machine and it's ability to fool people who want to be fooled. But I can hope that it opens people's eyes to the type or person they have for a President.
Elsewhere - Soledad O'Brien wanders a totally empty New Orleans. Empty of the living, at least. The dead bodies still lie there, covered with blankets.
Why am I not surprised. And from someone at MyDD
There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.
ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.
On Wednesday morning a group of approximately 1,000 citizens pulling 500 boats left the Acadiana Mall in Lafayette in the early morning and headed to New Orleans with a police escort from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department... The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered them home -- ALL FIVE HUNDRED BOATS. However, two friends were pulling a smaller 15ft alumaweld with a 25 hp. The DWF agents let them through to proceed to the rescue operation launch site...They reported to me that there were over 200 DWF agents just standing around and doing nothing. They were kept there for approximately 3 hours. During that time they observed a large number of DWF agents doing absolutely nothing. Why? Because FEMA would n ot let them HELP!
Watching CNN later that night, there was a telephone interview with a Nurse trapped in Charity Hospital in New Orleans. She said that there were over 1,000 people trapped inside of the hospital and that the doctors and nurses had zero medical supplies, no diesel to run the generators and that only three people had been rescued from the hospital since the Hurricane hit!
I can't come up with one logical reason why the DWF sent this large group of 500 boats/1000 men home when we surely could have rescued most, if not all, of the people trapped in Charity Hospital. Further, we had the means to immediately transport these people to hospitals in Southwest Louisiana.
Sheriff Lee and Senator Gautreaux - 1000 of Louisiana's citizens responded to the public's pleas for help. They were prevented from helping by Dwight Landreneau's agency, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries which had been taken over by FEMA. When I learned that Charity Hospital has not been evacuated and that no one has been there to attempt a rescue, I became angry.
It was because of this that my friend and I have been trying launch boats both yesterday and today but to no avail. It looks like FINALLY the Governor has just said SCREW FEMA, get those boats in the water and help save my citizens.
I have turned into one of those people who blog by quoting other blogs. I'll get back to my normal non-existent posts eventually. The shock and horror just builds and builds.
What really breaks my heart is watching the people who are still in the midst of it. It's one thing to be horrified at the response, or rather the lack of response, from the government. It's quite another to see the people who are there, to see the stress on their faces, to see people going horrors that just don't end. How do you deal with horror that never ends? Hmm...maybe that's what it's like to live in parts of Gaza or the some of the camps in the West Banks. It's lower level, but I can't imagine what life without hope.
Pictures of people dying - babies no longer responding, not waking up. Elderly people - hundred year olds, with no idea where they are.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Well, motherfuckers, and that means you, fat ass Goldberg and your master, Rich Lowry, PNAC Bitch Beinart, the racist wannabe white Malkin and the little fucktards at LGF, Bareback Andy and "Diversity" Instacracker, all you backstabbing, fag hating uncle tom ministers, you can see Dear Leader in action. America's largest port is gone, maybe forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded. Wow. That's almost a classical reference. Wish I had the skill with words that these people have. Of course, here I rant without an audience - no-one but a few close relatives even know this thing exists. I could up my traffic a lot (any traffic means it would be upped a lot) by either putting it in my sig at kos (and posting a comment, for a change) or by putting a link to it at my Wikipedia userpage. But that has its own problems, because that would amount to 'outing' myself, in a place where I would much rather retain a small amount of anonymity. The whole Stromfront/Nazipedia thing was a little chilling. I'm probably not worth noticing to those types, but it's nice not to have to worry about these things.
How did your wartime President react? Like Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded in 1944, with corrupt indifference.
Bush, the man your fever dreams built into the next Winston Churchill when he is really the live action Chauncey Gardiner, has failed to everyone, in plain sight, without question. Rick Perry is trying to save his ass, but it ain't working. NOLA looks like ANGOLA and that ain't flying.
Last night, on CNN, hearing Sanjay Gupta talking about watching Tulane Hospital being evacuated, watching healthy hospital workers being airlifted out, while patients at Charity Hospital, people being kept alive with hand-powered ventillators, were left sitting at Charity's makeshift helicopter evacuation point... Aaron Brown kept coming back to this point. The private hospital was totally evacuated, and the public hospital still had all of its patients and no electricity. What is behind these decisions? Sure, you know that the rich get preferential treatment. You know that the government cares far more about the rich than it does about the poor. These are all part of the sad reality of life. But even I find it hard to believe that the corruption goes this deep, that the people in charge of emergency relief would make a consciouis decision to rescue the people who can afford a private hospital, and leave those who are forced to go to a public hospital. This is mind bogglingly corrupt and evil. Is there another explanation for this? I sure hope so. I just can't imagine what it would be. The hospital staff at Tulane were airlifted out while the patients were left behind at Charity. WTF.
Friday, September 02, 2005
I am beyond disgusted. It makes me sick.
These are our rulers? Jeebus help us all:
MCINTYRE: And as to your question about political, I talked to a lot of people at the Pentagon today who were very frustrated about the fact that the perception was being created that the military didn't move fast enough. And they did it somewhat as political. They thought that part of the motivation was the critics of the administration to make the president look bad.
And they seemed to question the motives of some of our reporters who were out there and hearing these stories from the victims about why they had so much sympathy for the victims, and not as much sympathy for the challenges that the government met in meeting this challenge.
And I have to say thinking about that, it doesn't really seem all that unusual that you would tend to understand the plight of the victims a little more than the bureaucrats in Washington.
BROWN: Yes, I mean, I'm glad you told us that. And they have every right to believe they believe and think the way they think. I mean, and I mean that. But you've got people who have been living as refugees. It is not hard to understand why our first heart beat goes in their direction. We'll worry about the bureaucrats later.
Only soulless monsters who'd had 4 years of kid gloves treatment from our media even begin to think it's okay to feel that way, let alone speak it out loud.
Where does one go from here?
Rachel Maddow is doing the Al Franken show today. Talking to a journalist who is in Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard. These are likely to be poor black people from New Orleans themselves. I can't imagine how they must feel - not only are they getting shot at in Iraq, not only do they have to make do with a lack of body armour and vehicular armour, not only are they in a quagmire of Bush's choosing...they also have to deal with the fact that back home their families may be dying or thirst in New Orleans, or getting robbed or raped by gangs, or may have drowned as their homes flooded...and all this because the government doesn't give a damn about the people. That's all it can be. They don't give a damn.
This is 'homeland security'. The cell towers failed, and they had no backup communication systems. This is supposed to be the best military in the world.
Bush said nobody anticipated the breech of the levees. In 2001 FEMA's top three disasters were a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in California, and a major hurricane flooding New Orleans. How the hell can this man lie like this? How the hell can anyone be that heartless? WTF? WTF, WTF, WTF. I am speechless.
Bill from Portland, over at kos, has it right. While Condi shops for shoes, while Cheney is still on vacation, while... (fill it in here)...people die. Hunter's post is a must-read as well. That Fox News has turned on the Bush administration (with a few exceptions, like O'Lielly) is telling. And yet nothing is still being done.
I hope that some good comes from this - that people wake up and realise how incompetent the Bush regime is. But will they? And even if there is massive backlash against the Republicans next year, will it be enough to switch control of the House and Senate? And if it does, will it make a difference, or will it be "too little, too late"? I suppose for thousands of people in New Orleans that answer to that question is more than obvious - it's too little, too late after you have gone through what those people have gone through. How does such massive incompetence happen? Hard work.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
So let's just call them School 1 and School 2. School 1 looks like a dream job - small liberal arts college with a huge biology faculty. People teach intro classes in whatever strikes their fancy. And research is required - in fact, undergraduate participation in real research appears to be a key part of their programme. I don't know what teaching loads are like, but I'm going to guess that they are 3-3. School 2 has a tiny biology faculty - maybe 5 people. Teaching loads are 3-4, 9-12 credit hours a semester, which one bonus hour for labs (i.e., a 3 hour lab is one credit hour for students, but the instructor gets to count it as 2 credit hours - which is, apparently, a lot better than many other universities). The idea of teaching somewhere where you don't have graduate students, where you have to run your own labs, is actualy somewhat appealing. And the truth is that a 4/4 could involve teaching the same class more than once, and running several lab streams - which appears to be what Bob is doing. School 2 lays out its teaching load at great lenghts, which makes it seem rather daunting, but that may be the point - to keep away non-serious candidates...I am reminded of the debate on the Chronicle fora when someone said that he didn't plan to interview Ivy Leaguers because they did not seem to be able to fathom the teaching load. Maybe School 2 is saying that up front to avoid having their time wasted by primadonnas. Who knows. Anyway, the worst thing to me of School 2 was the statement that, although faculty are expected to remain active in scholarly pursuits, this does not necessarily mean publication in scholarly journals...
The idea (or maybe ideal) of a small, close-knit community at a liberal arts college appeals to me. I don't know if it's realistic or not, but I could see myself as that kind of professor, the jack-of-all-trades generalist naturalist who can answer just about any question an undergrad brings. But then, you can be that at a big school too - look at both Pat and Pete - in very different ways, they meet the ideal. Who knows if I will get any job this year. But it's always fun to dream. I still hope that the ideal job will open up at UWI in a couple years, when Dookeran is Prime Minister and the crime situation is more in hand.
Which leads to another thought - what sort of a Prime Minister woudl Dookeran make, and would he really be the kind of person that Trinidad needs? I'm not asking, is he the kind of person the party needs (i.e., someone who can lead it to voctory), I'm not asking whether he would be better than Patrick Mugabe, because I think that's an obvious yes. I'm asking whether "Wins" is really the kind of person the country needs. That is, of course, a two-fold question - what kind of person is he really (of course, he went Naps, he must be a good person), and what sort of person does the country need right now. I'd still go back to Hudson-Philips, the tough law-and-order guy, but apart from no longer being active in politics, he's the same age as Bas. Well, there's always Gillian.
Katrina was a natural phenomenon. It seems likely that climate change led to warmer water in the Gulf of Mexico, but that is impossible to prove one way or the other. The destruction in Mississippi and Louisiana would have happened. But what happened in New Orleans did not have to happen. Atrios, kos and Majority Report have pointed out how the hurricane defenses were systematically underfunded, and how FEMA was gutted over the last several years. Bush is too busy with his vacation, too busy paying golf, to say anything in a timely manner. He can't be bothered to visit the affected areas. But will he show up for a rousing photo op in a few weeks as the city starts to dry out (or, more likely, in some small town in Mississippi, since that photo op will connect more with his base)? Pro-bab-ly.
Things get weirder and wierder. A 'renegade' bus makes it into Houston...loads of refugees fleeing New Orleans. Apparently those who were not in the Superdome in New Orleans were not supposed to be housed in the Astrodome in Houston. They are talking about the fact that there was no information about the buses, no information about the people on board. Granted, there are many far more important things for them to deal with at a time like that.
Destitute refugees fleeing natural disasters. It's the kind of thing that you have been hearing about for years. I didn't dismiss it as alarmist, I just put it aside as information that I could not use at this point in time. It was something you thought possible in the distant future when rising sea levels displace millions of people...or something like that.