Monday, October 31, 2005

Saving people from death by Malaria

There is increased interest in fighting malaria, which kills about 1,000,000 people per year, mostly in Africa. The "Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now" coalition insists, "We will fight furiously for every human life now hanging in the balance as a function of current, myopic, errant and unconscionable U.S. malaria control policies." And the weapon of choice is the old one that we stopped using: DDT. Marvin Olasky reports at Town Hall
The KMMN coalition says that none of that money goes for the most effective weapon: the insecticide DDT, which eradicated malaria in Europe and the United States more than half a century ago, but was banned in the United States in 1972 because of its supposed environmental effects. Soon, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Agency for International Development cut out DDT from its programs. Author-physician Michael Crichton described the results of the DDT ban this way: "It has killed more people than Hitler." That's because trying to stop every human-stinging mosquito is a dead man's game. They will find a way in. And during the three decades since DDT disappeared from the disease-fighting weapon rack, we've learned that the insecticide does not thin birds' eggshells dangerously or cause cancer among humans. Infants nursing when there's been heavy DDT spraying may gain weight a little more slowly than others, but that's a lot better than dying from malaria.
But Bill Gates is taking a different route with $258 million in grants announced today - Puget Sound Business Journal. Not the field-proven DDT, but new approaches:
The biggest of the three grants, $107.6 million, goes to Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) to develop a vaccine for malaria, which kills an estimated 2,000 African children a day. PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative will work with Belgium-based GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, a unit of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Inc., to test vaccine candidates. The other two grants go to Geneva, Switzerland-based nonprofit Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC). The IVCC, led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, will use the money to fast track development of insecticides and other mosquito control methods.
Let's do both - use the proven insect killer and look for new methods. Good work.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Great Economy

The story of the day is the US economy. Well, it should be. Our economy grew at 3.8% during the third quarter. That is great. Without hurricanes Katrina and Rita the rate would have been .5 to 1.0% higher; incredible! The growth was led by consumer spending. And the LA Times reports:
The Commerce Department's index of personal consumption expenditures — an inflation measure favored by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan — rose at an annual rate of 3.7%. But without energy and food, the increase was only 1.3%, down from 1.7% in the second quarter.
There is bad news - wages didn't keep up; they lagged behind the low inflation by 1.5%. And personal savings went below zero! But the overall news is good. And inventories are declining, which indicates that production shouldn't decline. So another good quarter is expected.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Circular Firing Squad

I oppose conservative who take aim and shoot at their own. Wait for the hearings. It's one thing to have doubts about nominee Harriet Miers; to ask questions. But it's quite another to raise the bar. Since Judge Robert Bork was "Borked" in the 1980s we have asked for the nomination process to be fair. We have opposed the groups who focus only one getting rid of court nominees. People against the American Way; they say "for." NAARL National Abortion Rights League. To add injury and insult to the debate, our conservative pundits/leaders have joined the dirty campaign. David Frum formed an interest group and raised $300,000 to take out ads against Miers. Better Justice I expect their website to disappear now that they have defeated President Bush. Borkers Here is the list of people I have respected that I will now watch out for. What other self-inflicted wounds to they have for us?
  • Stephen M. Bainbridge
  • Mona Charen
  • Linda Chavez
  • David Frum
  • Heather MacDonald
  • Virginia Postrel
I don't have direct knowledge of these people: E.C. Birg, Ephraim (Fry) Wernick, Roger Clegg, George Conway, Michael Dokupil Go your own way. You have used up the credibility you had earned with me. I might trust your research, but I don't trust your judgment. This list is only those who raised $300,000 to take out ads. I have no problem with Robert Bork, John Fund and others who spoke. And Linda Chavez rejects email to the address she gives on her site. And they claim that they will force President Bush to nominate a Boston-Washington elite judge. Which seem to be their criteria of a qualified candidate, in others words a better nominee. But they handed a victory to Senator Chuckie Schumer and his gang. They didn't know there are politics in this process; Bush did. After defeating the president we will get a worse nominee.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Europe or Growth

I am amazed at the contrast of Europe. How it can be such a beautiful place that's a joy to visit, to live in also, I presume. But its countries are suffering from self-inflicted wounds of the welfare state. High taxes cause low growth, few jobs created and unemployment rates in the double digits. James Glassman analyzes the situation:
Europe, or at least the parts I go to, is a wonderful place to live and to visit. It's beautiful; the food is great; the people are generally warm and relaxed. If there is a greater pleasure than eating a plate of Insalata Caprese (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil) on a sunny terrace on the Amalfi Coast with the islands where the Sirens lured Ulysses in the distance, then I haven't found it yet. But, when it comes to public policy, Europe has taken a wrong turn.
And he asks if the US is going the way of Europe.
I worry that we are beginning to see the initial signs of just such a turn for the worse. A distinguished 20-member panel of experts convened by the National Academies, America's top science advisory group, has warned in a new study that the U.S. "could soon lose its privileged position" as the world's top innovator and growth engine. With competitors "who live just a mouse click away," we stand to lose high-paying jobs, especially to Asia

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Bass Lesson

My time for blogging is limited because I am taking a bass playing lesson. Music Dojo has online lessons for guitar players and bass guitar players of all levels. It's not a lot of time, but I have to put in time every day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pork or New Orleans

We have expenses and even though our budget is trillions it isn't unlimited. Our US budget was already in deficit before hurrican Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana. But the destruction was huge and we need to rebuild. We agree that it is right to rebuild New Orleans, other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi and the cost is at least $100 billion. Should we pretend there is a free lunch and just take on the expenditure of over $100 billion without a serious look at its impact on our budget? Only a government monopoly gets to spend like a drunken sailor. That is, the distinguished senators are very generous with your money, not theirs. Senator Tom Coburn led the adults in the Senate who said "Let's get serious. We have to prioritize our needs. What can we cut?" Senator Patty of Washington, that is Patty Murray, led the adolescent opposition. Indeed, it is reported that she threatened the responsible senators with retribution against their states. John at Powerline Blog reports:
Mrs. R. reports that Patty Murray is now speaking against the Coburn Amendment, and has just issued a threat against any Senators who vote for the amendment: we on the Appropriations Committee will take a "long, hard look" at any projects in your state. Can anyone say, "culture of corruption"?
And what spending was Patty so boldly protecting? According to Tapscott's Copy Desk
a sculpture park in Seattle, Washington, $200,000 to build an animal shelter in Westerly, RI, and $200,000 to build a parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska.
I deplore the immature irresponsibility of my state's senator. We tried to get her out. What's worse, the vote was 86 for irresponsibility and 13 for biting the bullet. Here are the 13, which includes one Democrat:
Allen (R-VA), Burr (R-NC), Coburn (R-OK), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Feingold (D-WI), Graham (R-SC), Hagel (R-NE), Kyl (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ), Sessions (R-AL), Sununu (R-NH), Talent (R-MO)
I am going to remember this. Maybe Patty can stay in her cushy job with the support of people who don't care, but we won't let this die. (Some reports say Coburn had 15 votes. Apparently he had three proposals. So the 15 votes for a different proposal of Coburn's.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

WiFi in OR for Productivity

The largest WiFi "cloud" is in rural Oregon. 700 square miles of eastern Oregon has continuous wireless access. This is the area of Umatilla and Hermiston, Oregon. It's where the Columbia River becomes the border between Washington and Oregon. I am very familiar with the area, having lived the first 10 years of my life 25 miles away in Richland and Kennewick, Washington. But why there? There are only 11,000 people there. Sure, it's nice to be able to web surf on a deserted road in semi-desert country. So? There are a bunch of remote applications that are valuable and companies and government agencies are paying for. Breitbart carries the Associated Press story:
While his service is free to the general public, Ziari is recovering the investment through contracts with more than 30 city and county agencies, as well as big farms such as Hale's, whose onion empire supplies over two-thirds of the red onions used by the Subway sandwich chain. Morrow County, for instance, pays $180,000 a year for Ziari's service. Each client, he said, pays not only for yearly access to the cloud but also for specialized applications such as a program that allows local officials to check parking meters remotely. "Internet service is only a small part of it. The same wireless system is used for surveillance, for intelligent traffic system, for intelligent transportation, for telemedicine and for distance education," said Ziari, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny Iranian town of Shahi on the Caspian Sea. It's revolutionizing the way business is conducted in this former frontier town. "Outside the cloud, I can't even get DSL," said Hale. "When I'm inside it, I can take a picture of one of my onions, plug it into my laptop and send it to the Subway guys in San Diego and say, 'Here's a picture of my crop.'"
Productivity!! .... And about the technology. The WiFi we have in our homes has a range of 30 feet or so, more with an antenna, but still not very far. For longer distances there is "Wi-Max," which makes the rural coverage practical.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Iraq - their Constitution - Good News

The big story is that the people of Iraq are rid of their murderous dictator and now they are adopting their own constitution. Is it obvious? The people, male and female, have a say about their government. It is a government of the people! The news media aren't saying much about it. But this is huge. They control their own collective future. Knight-Ridder reports:
JADIDAH, Iraq - Mohammed Hamed al-Obadi doesn't like the proposed constitution that Iraqis will vote up or down on Saturday. When he walks through the dusty streets of his Sunni Muslim neighborhood, very few people have much good to say about it. But, unanimously, they agree they'll vote to make it law. "It's time for the Sunni people to get involved in the democratic process," said the 50-year-old son of a Sunni tribal sheik. "We boycotted the vote last January, and we lost because of it. This time, we must show our support for one Iraq by approving this constitution, then we must make it work for us, from the inside." That attitude, to the extent that it's shared by other members of Iraq's Sunni minority, suggests a hopeful turn in Iraq's struggling democracy. Sunnis, roughly 20 percent of the population, were in control of the country under Saddam Hussein and they're now the backbone of the insurgency. U.S. and Iraqi leaders hope that broad Sunni participation in the constitutional vote and subsequent parliamentary elections will sap support for the insurgents.
Yes, this vote undercuts the Islamist murderers. Especially the votes of the Sunnis.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The French discover "petrole contre nourriture"

The United Nations' Iraq Oil for Food program is huge. Saddam Hussein was allowed to control billions of dollars that was supposed to feed his people; he was able buy almost anyting. And he was allowed to control people - to buy influence - with the money. It is clear that Kofi Annan allowed this misuse of the program. His highest diplomat Benon Sevan was involved. Kofi's son was involved. Now a high French displomat has been arrested. Claudia Rossett reports in the National Review.
Even the French have finally discovered the United Nations Oil-for-Food scandal. With the arrest in Paris this week of a former French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Bernard Merimee, alleged to have received illicit and lucrative contracts to buy oil from Saddam Hussein's U.N.-sanctioned regime, the French newspapers are now aflutter over "petrole contre nourriture." The funny thing is, while France had plenty to do with Oil-for-Food, Merimee's main trail leads not to the Quai d'Orsay, but to the doorstep of the U.N. secretary general.
Rossett has done an outstanding job on this. It is by far the largest scandal ever in the humanitarian area. No one paid attention. But Rossett, working for the Wall Street Journal, kept following the crumbs without a big story for years. Then she fouhd the cake! Don't pay attention to the Pulitzer prize awards. They passed her over in favor of some reporter scandalizing President Bush. And why are we US taxpayers paying to keep corrupt Kofi in office?

Religion of Peace?

Someone is counting and you won't believe the numbers. Islam extremists are killing people every day in many countries. You can't blame George Bush for this. The bombings in Iraq count, because they are done by Islamists intending to disrupt the conversion of Iraq from a ditactatorship to a democracy. But even taking out Iraq there are killings every day. Some days multiple lethal attacks. In the past 2 days there were attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Phillipines. The list for the past year must have 1,000 attacks. Many attacks are against Christians or secular people. But some are within factions of Islam. Algeria is 99 plus per cent Muslim. But look at this:
On May 15, 2005 in Khenchela, Algeria all eleven members of a water supply convoy are blown up or machine-gunned by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.... On May 9 in Chakka, India - The Mujahideen open fire on civilians exiting a mosque, killing three and injuring an unknown number.
These were Muslims killing Muslims. Look at the list for the past 365 days. It is astonishing. Update. 10/14/05 - Thailand The BBC reports that Thailand has major problem. Their southern provinces that adjoin Malaysia are being attacked by Islamists and killed almost every day.
The continuing unrest in Thailand's Muslim-majority south has led to the deaths of about 950 people since the beginning of 2004, and shows no signs of abating.
950 deaths in less than 2 years; that's an average of about 2 people every day!
Some of the insurgents blamed for a spiral of violence in southern Thailand were trained in Libya, a senior Thai defence official has claimed. General Pallop Pinmanee said the militants then used this training to teach many others in the south. But Thailand's defence minister said there was still no concrete evidence any insurgents had been trained abroad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Does China have too many People?

China has viciously attacked the growth of its population during the past 20 years, I guess. The "One Child" policy has been vigorously carried out. Women have to report monthly. They have IUDs forcibly inserted and an Xray every 3 months to make sure it is still in. And forced abortions for violators. So China dodged the feared population bullet, right? But China is on a program of economic growth. And the two policies have collided. A shortage of labor is emerging in some industries in some parts of China. Even the government's Xinhua News Agency says so:
China’s population is expected to peak at 1.44 billion by 2033 while the labor population is expected to no longer increase by 2011. However, the peak time came much earlier than expected thanks to that [sic] the national policy of family planning has worked and that the old-age population grow. As a result, the decline of the increase rate of the labor population has materialized in recent years. Statistics show the proportion of jobs and job hunters is increasing year by year in 117 cities nationwide, climbing as much as 95 percent in the second quarter in 2005 when compared with 65 percent in the first quarter of 2001. Xie believes the domestic labor force has already been driven from the stage of "limitless supply" into "limited surplus," and resulting labor supply gaps among some regions might occur throughout the country. Though employees consequently could receive higher pay, labor shortages may pose a new thorny problem, causing some economic growth slowdowns, Xie said.
Brian Schwartz at the American Thinker provides analysis:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Leave a Comment

If you look at the comments for recent posts you will see deleted comments. All of those are spam. They don't address the content of the item they are attached to and they are self-serving; they give a link to a web site that is unrelated to the topic. Please leave a comment.

The Sun predicting earthquakes?

NASA has made significant progress in one area - predicting earthquakes? The Times of India reports that a correlation has been discovered between major earthquakes and sun spots. This is not to say that the sun spot causes an earthquake. Rather, that it triggers a situation that is on the razor edge and the earthquake results.
NEW DELHI: It may not be long before scientists start tracking "sunspots" to predict earthquakes, some hours before they hit seismologically-active areas. And a JNU professor and his team would be behind the scenes. The NASA and the European Geosciences Union have already put their stamp of approval on the sunspot hypothesis, which suggests that certain changes in the sun-earth environment affects the magnetic field of the earth that can trigger earthquakes in areas prone to it. ... This theory is a definite development in the field of earthquake prediction,"said Saumitra Mukherjee, associate professor, School of Environmental Sciences at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). NASA has allowed Mukherjee’s team access to their data free of cost to work on the theory. "These changes take place about 24-36 hours before the earthquake so they can definitely help predict it,"he said

Monday, October 10, 2005

NASA the dinosaur

NASA, the National Aeronautic and Spac Administration, has unveiled a bold plan to put men back on the Moon in 13 years - that's 2018. The first time took 9 years. Now with 40 years' experience and far more advanced knowledge and manufacturing, we will take 50% longer? But read the fine print. The Moon is a step on the way to Mars. Going to the Moon will really be test flights (Is traveling in space flying?) for the procedures and hardware to get to Mars. But, still, why so long? Lots of people are asking and some are saying: Don't wait for the dinosaur. Let's do it ourselves. Private space ventures are the cheetahs. They care less about how big the organization chart is focus on the goal. We have already seen Burt Rutan and Paul Allen;s Space Ship One fly into space twice in one week. And it was installed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum last week next to the Spirit of St. Louis. But their design concentrates on getting people to the edge of space, not to Earth orbit or beyone. But other entrepreneurs are aiming higher and their designs will be more suitable for earth orbit. (I need an example.) Holman Jenkins has good coverage in the Wall Street Journal. Subscription required, I am afraid.
NASA's moon plans are a budget bluff -- at best, a cipher for a space policy to be named later, once the political landscape has shifted and it will be possible finally to pull the plug on the shuttle, the space station and NASA's whole failing model of human spaceflight. What will cause this shift in the landscape? Successful private space endeavors -- which, despite setbacks, through trial and error and animal spirits, will begin to show that men and material can be moved off the earth and into orbit affordably by spreading the cost over many flights, routinely undertaken. Only then can the next stage of manned space exploration really start. Hence a powerful line of criticism aimed at NASA from the non-usual suspects. NASA's program has a "fundamental unseriousness about it," complains Rand Simberg, a former aerospace engineer, at his Web site Transterrestrial Musings. "A serious program would be based on a foundation of an

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Discovery Institute and an Urban Legend

The “Wedge Document”: How Darwinist Paranoia Fueled an Urban Legend

I strongly support the Discovery Institute. Bruce Chapman and his crew do first-class work. The following is from Discovery and I quote it in full: In 1999 someone posted on the internet an early fundraising proposal for Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. Dubbed the “Wedge Document,” this proposal soon took on a life of its own, popping up in all sorts of places and eventually spawning what can only be called a giant urban legend. Among true-believers on the Darwinist fringe the document came to be viewed as evidence for a secret conspiracy to fuse religion with science and impose a theocracy. These claims were so outlandish that for a long time we simply ignored them. But because some credulous Darwinists seem willing to believe almost anything, we decided we should set the record straight. 1. The Background § In 1996 Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now just the Center for Science & Culture). Its main functions were (1) to support research by scientists and other scholars who were critical of neo-Darwinism and by those who were developing the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design; and (2) to explore, in various ways, the multiple connections between science and culture. § To raise financial support for the Center, Discovery Institute prepared a fundraising proposal that explained the overall rationale for the Center and why a think tank like Discovery would want to start such an entity in the first place. Like most fundraising proposals, this one included a multi-year budget and a list of goals to be achieved. 2. The Rise of an Urban Legend § In 1999 a copy of this fundraising proposal was posted by someone on the internet. The document soon spread across the world wide web, gaining almost mythic status among some Darwinists. § That’s when members of the Darwinist fringe began saying rather loopy things. For example, one group claimed that the document supplied evidence of a frightening twenty-year master plan “to have religion control not only science, but also everyday life, laws, and education”! § Barbara Forrest, a Louisiana professor on the board of a group called the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, similarly championed the document as proof positive of a sinister conspiracy to abolish civil liberties and unify church and state. Forrest insisted that the document was “crucially important,” and she played up its supposed secrecy, claiming at one point that its “authenticity…has been neither affirmed nor denied by the Discovery Institute.” Poor Prof. Forrest—if she really wanted to know whether the document was authentic, all she had to do was ask. (She didn’t.) § There were lots of ironies as this urban legend began to grow, but Darwinist true-believers didn’t seem capable of appreciating them:
  • Discovery Institute, the supposed mastermind of this “religious” conspiracy, was in fact a secular organization that sponsored programs on a wide array of issues, including mass transit, technology policy, the environment, and national defense.
  • At the time the “Wedge Document” was being used by Darwinists to stoke fears about Christian theocracy, the Chairman of Discovery’s Board was Jewish, its President was an Episcopalian, and its various Fellows represented an eclectic range of religious views ranging from Roman Catholic to agnostic. It would have been news to them that they were all part of a fundamentalist cabal.
  • Far from promoting a union between church and state, Discovery Institute sponsored for several years a seminar for college students that advocated religious liberty and the separation between church and state.
3. What the Document Actually Says § The best way to dispel the paranoia of the conspiracy-mongers is to actually look at the document in question. It simply doesn’t advocate the views they attribute to it. § First and foremost, and contrary to the hysterical claims of some Darwinists, this document does not attack “science” or the “scientific method.” In fact, it is pro-science. What the document critiques is “scientific materialism,” which is the abuse of genuine science by those who claim that science supports the unscientific philosophy of materialism. § Second, the document does not propose replacing “science” or the “scientific method” with “God” or “religion.” Instead, it supports a science that is “consonant” (i.e., harmonious) with theism, rather than hostile to it. To support a science that is “consonant” with religion is not to claim that religion and science are the same thing. They clearly aren’t. But it is to deny the claim of scientific materialists that science is somehow anti-religious. § Following are the document’s major points, which we still are happy to affirm: (1) “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization is built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.” As a historical matter, this statement happens to be true. The idea that humans are created in the image of God has had powerful positive cultural consequences. Only a member of a group with a name like the “New Orleans Secular Humanist Association” could find anything objectionable here. (By the way, isn’t it strange that a group supposedly promoting “theocracy” would praise “representative democracy” and “human rights”?) (2) “Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very throughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.” This statement highlights one of the animating concerns of Discovery Institute as a public policy think tank. Leading nineteenth century intellectuals tried to hijack science to promote their own anti-religious agenda. This attempt to enlist science to support an anti-religious agenda continues to this day with Darwinists like Oxford’s Richard Dawkins, who boldly insists that Darwinism supports atheism. We continue to think that such claims are an abuse of genuine science, and that this abuse of real science has led to pernicious social consequences (such as the eugenics crusade pushed by Darwinist biologists early in the twentieth century). (3) “Discovery Institute’s Center... seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies.” It wants to “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” We admit it: We want to end the abuse of science by Darwinists like Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson who try to use science to debunk religion, and we want to provide support for scientists and philosophers who think that real science is actually “consonant with… theistic convictions.” Please note, however: “Consonant with” means “in harmony with.” It does not mean “same as.” Recent developments in physics, cosmology, biochemistry, and related sciences may lead to a new harmony between science and religion. But that doesn’t mean we think religion and science are the same thing. We don’t. (4) “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.” It is precisely because we are interested in encouraging intellectual exploration that the “Wedge Document” identified the “essential” component of its program as the support of scholarly “research, writing and publication.” The document makes clear that the primary goal of Discovery Institute’s program in this area is to support scholars so they can engage in research and publication Scholarship comes first. Accordingly, by far the largest program in the Center’s budget has been the awarding of research fellowships to biologists, philosophers of science, and other scholars to engage in research and writing. (5) “The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized.” It’s shocking but true—Discovery Institute actually promised to publicize the work of its scholars in the broader culture! What’s more, it wanted to engage Darwinists in academic debates at colleges and universities! We are happy to say that we still believe in vigorous and open discussion of our ideas, and we still do whatever we can to publicize the work of those we support. So much for the “secret” part of our supposed “conspiracy/” § A final thought: Don’t Darwinists have better ways to spend their time than inventing absurd conspiracy theories about their opponents? The longer Darwinists persist in spinning such urban legends, the more likely it is that fair-minded people will begin to question whether Darwinists know what they are talking about. To see the complete original text of the document and read a more detailed response go to: The Wedge Document: So What?

President Bush Chooses His Supreme Court Justices

Everyone knows someone who would be a better Supreme Court justice than Harriet Miers. Sorry to break the news, but it's not your job to make the appointments. It's the president's job. Sorry. What if we all beat the drum about better candidates and undercut Miers to the point she backs out? Will we then get our better candidate? No. We would get a worse one. Bush would be on the defensive and Chuckie Schumer, the honorable, would get to make the pick. Well, not quite, but close to it. So put away your crystal ball. Lorie Byrd, the PoliPundit says it very well:
If those opposed to Miers continue to speak out loudly (which is their right) and to claim that Bush lied (which I believe is just inaccurate) then maybe they will create some unease with the base. If they do, though, it will have been from the top down, rather than from the grassroots up. Maybe those opposed to the nomination will be successful in getting enough of the base to vote against Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, or to just stay home. Do they think that we will then get better nominees, with Democrats in charge? Even those who hate this nomination, and hate Bush for making it, can’t really believe that. Can they?
And the ridiculous charge that Bush lied about what kind of person he would nominate:
I can understand those disappointed in this candidate, and those who believe Bush missed an opportunity. I can even understand, though I don’t agree with, those who believe Bush broke a promise. But to say Bush “lied” is to say that when he said he would nominate those in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, he secretly intended not to do so. This interpretation of the word “lie” is just wrong. It is wrong the same way it was wrong when used by those who say Bush lied about WMD. To say he lied then, would mean that when he said Saddam possessed WMD, that he really knew no WMD existed. Do we really have to revisit the definition of what a lie is with those on the conservative side of the aisle?
It is in our interest that President Bush succeed in getting Miers approved by the Senate and sitting on the Supreme Court. BTW, my best source for Supreme Court issues is Hugh Hewitt. I check Hugh every day.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

News Misreporting Slowed Aid in NOLA

The news reports from New Orleans of multiple murders, rapes and other crimes in the Superdome and Convention Center during the flooding have been proven wrong. The murder count in the Superdome was zero. The reports of dozens of bodies stored in a freezer in the Superdome. Wrong. There were 6 bodies, 4 of natural causes, one suicide and one I don't recall, but it wasn't a murder. Why couldn't the Major Media get this one story correct? They were all there - the big TV networks, the 3 or 4 cable news networks, the major newspapers. They were all there, but they got it wrong. What was the effect? The Washington Post reports today that the delivery of aid was slowed. The news media hampered the rescue and relief efforts.
The sensational accounts delayed rescue and evacuation efforts already hampered by poor planning and a lack of coordination among local, state and federal agencies. People rushing to the Gulf Coast to fly rescue helicopters or to distribute food, water and other aid steeled themselves for battle.
Delaying aid is bad. But worse, much worse, the news made it seem that New Orleans evacuees were somehow dangerous:
In communities near and far, the seeds were planted that the victims of Katrina should be kept away, or at least handled with extreme caution.
Back to the poor reporting:
There was an unnerving amount of lawlessness, especially looting, in the streets of New Orleans after the hurricane. But many of the more salacious reports have not withstood close examination by government officials or the media. CNN reported repeatedly on Sept. 1, three days after Katrina ravaged New Orleans, that evacuations at the Superdome were suspended because "someone fired a shot at a helicopter." But Louisiana National Guard officials on the ground at the time now say that no helicopters came under attack and that evacuations were never stopped because of gunfire. Later that morning, during a briefing carried live on local radio and local and national television, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said, "We have gotten reports, but unconfirmed, of some of our deputies and sheriffs that have either been injured or killed." Of the thousands of law enforcement officials who converged on New Orleans, only one was shot. The wound to the leg was self-inflicted in a struggle, a spokesman for the Guard said last week. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that National Guard troops found 30 to 40 bodies decomposing inside a freezer in the convention center, including a girl whose throat was slashed. The newspaper quoted a member of the Arkansas National Guard, which was deployed in the building. Other news organizations then passed the information on. That, too, was untrue. On Monday, Bob Johannessen, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said that four bodies were found -- one was a gunshot victim. He said officials had no record of a dead girl with her throat cut.
Some media organizations are backing off - a little:
The Los Angeles Times said last week that its story about the evacuation of the Superdome "adopted a breathless tone." Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/US, said reporting was challenging because official sources -- in particular Compass, the police chief -- initially confirmed many of the things reported on the air. As more information has become available, Klein said, the network has corrected the record and highlighted the danger of swirling rumors. "We are ever vigilant about separating rumor from fact," Klein said. "This story is a good reminder of the need to do that."
But who will hold the media responsible for the damage done by their repeatedly reporting rumors that had no source and were not true? Who will hold the media responsible for the aid that was delayed due to their false reporting?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bald Eagles in Suburbia

I saw two bald eagles 3 blocks from our home in Lake Forest Park, Washington. It's totally suburban. There is some habitat advantage - Lake Washington; across it is the entrance of the Sammamish Slough (so-called River); and two creeks cut through our neighborhood. Some pairs nest withing three miles. But there is also one of the busiest highways in the state of Washington, Bothell Way or state highway 522. Google Map - click on Satellite I was walking to our neighborhood shopping mall. As I approached Bothell Way I heard the high almost-screech sound. There were two of them circling each other right at the highway. I wish I had my camera. They stayed near and active for several minutes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

More Hurricanes? No

I covered James Glassman's analysis of historical hurricane activity here on August 31.
Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade [when they hit the US mainland]. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.
I made a chart of that data. Of course the current decade - which has no name yet, let's call it the 00s - is not yet half over. So I projected the data for it. Click on the chart to enlarge it. (Sorry it's not more legible - a hurried effort in Excel and Fireworks.) It is clear that the decades of the 70s, 80s and 90s has less strong hurricanes than usual. The 00s so far are on the higher side, but not any new extreme. So the number of strong hurricanes does not provide evidence that human activity has made the globe warmer.

British Dhimmitude - Ban Piglet

The British are bowing down to the Muslims in the worst way. They banned Piglet in West Midlands in the U.K. Dhimmitude is the way of getting along where you get along because you always put your gaze downward; you always give in. The British are starting to practice it. From The Sun
NOVELTY pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office — in case they offend Muslim staff. Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. Bosses acted after a Muslim complained about pig-shaped stress relievers delivered to the council in the run-up to the Islamic festival of Ramadan. Muslims are barred from eating pork in the Koran and consider pigs unclean. Councillor Mahbubur Rahman, a practising Muslim, backed the ban. He said: “It’s a tolerance of people’s beliefs.”
OK, Muslims don't eat pork. So don't make them eat pork. Clearly mark food packaging and they can avoid it. But banning Piglet? That's what they did. You want to think this is a joke, but it's not. The British are seriously caving.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Charles Murray - the Poor versus the Underclass

Charles Murray looks at the poverty we saw in New Orleans and raises the distinction between the poor and the underclass. Being poor means having low income and assets. The way out of poverty is well known - work. People who work do not remain poor. In the hurricane aftermath in New Orleans the poor did what they could to take care of themselves. But there were people who looted and women who didn't do what they could, but waited for someone else to provide for them. These people are the underclass. Murry covers this in the Wall Street Journal on 9/29. Here it is hosted at the American Enterprise Institute.
We in the better parts of town haven't had to deal with the underclass for many years, having successfully erected screens that keep them from troubling us. We no longer have to send our children to school with their children. Except in the most progressive cities, the homeless have been taken off the streets. And most importantly, we have dealt with crime. This has led to a curious paradox: falling crime and a growing underclass.
The big problem is unsocialized young men. The first mark is crime.
The underclass has been growing. The crime rate has been dropping for 13 years. But the proportion of young men who grow up unsocialized and who, given the opportunity, commit crimes, has not. A rough operational measure of criminality is the percentage of the population under correctional supervision. This is less sensitive to changes in correctional fashion than imprisonment rates, since people convicted of a crime get some sort of correctional supervision regardless of the political climate. When Ronald Reagan took office, 0.9% of the population was under correctional supervision. That figure has continued to rise. When crime began to fall in 1992, it stood at 1.9%. In 2003 it was 2.4%. Crime has dropped, but criminality has continued to rise
The other symptom of the underclass is young men who choose no to work.
Among black males ages 20-24, for example, the percentage who were not working or looking for work when the first numbers were gathered in 1954 was 9%. That figure grew during the 1960s and 1970s, stabilizing at around 20% during the 1980s. The proportion rose again, reaching 30% in 1999, a year when employers were frantically seeking workers for every level of job. The dropout rate among young white males is lower, but has been increasing faster than among blacks. These increases are not explained by changes in college enrollment or any other benign cause. Large numbers of healthy young men, at ages when labor force participation used to be close to universal, have dropped out.
Why has the underclass grown during this time of increasing prosperity?
In large part, I would argue, because the proportion of young males who have grown up without fathers has also risen relentlessly. The indicator here is the illegitimacy ratio--the percentage of live births that occur to single women. It was a minuscule 4% in the early 1950s, and it has risen substantially in every subsequent decade. The ratio reached the 25% milestone in 1988 and the 33% milestone in 1999. As of 2003, the figure was 35%--of all births, including whites. The black illegitimacy ratio in 2003 was 68%. By way of comparison: The illegitimacy ratio that caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to proclaim the breakdown of the black family in the early 1960s was 24%.
Does he think our government can improve this situation? Not by doing the things that have already failed - at huge expense.
Hurricane Katrina temporarily blew away the screens that we have erected to keep the underclass out of sight and out of mind. We are now to be treated to a flurry of government efforts from politicians who are shocked, shocked, by what they saw. What comes next is depressingly predictable. Five years from now, the official evaluations will report that there were no statistically significant differences between the subsequent lives of people who got the government help and the lives of people in a control group. Newspapers will not carry that story, because no one will be interested any longer. No one will be interested because we will have long since replaced the screens, and long since forgotten.

Private aid in Gulf Hurricane Relief

In Mississippi people have found a great difference in the major groups giving aid. The Salvation Army was there quickly. And their people knew what they were doing. The Wall Street Journal reports on page 1 Thursday
Then city officials and residents counted their blessings, thanking the dozens of volunteers who had arrived here after the storm and the donors who had sent money and supplies. People in the crowd saved their biggest applause for the Salvation Army. "They were the only ones here in the beginning," Eula Crowell, 57 years old, said after the meeting. She lost her house to the massive storm surge that inundated East Biloxi, where many of the city's poorest people live. For the past month, she has relied on the Salvation Army for water, hot meals, groceries and other basic goods. The group also gave her $50.
But the Red Cross received few accolades:
The American Red Cross was mentioned at the meeting too, but in a different way. "We want to know where the money is," Ms. Crowell said when she cornered a Red Cross official who attended the gathering. "All these people across America are giving money over the TV. I would tell them to put it back in their pocket." Across the hurricane disaster zone, stretching from Alabama to Texas, an unexpected and unintended rivalry has developed between the two nonprofit organizations most closely associated with the aftermath of calamity. Here in some of the poorest parts of Mississippi and much of the Gulf Coast, the Salvation Army is drawing praise for its swift arrival in the most distressed areas and clearly winning the hearts of desperate residents. To some people here, the Red Cross, under growing criticism for letting bureaucratic hurdles slow down aid in the disaster area, suffers by comparison.
The difference:
The Salvation Army is helped by its military-style structure, which is designed for rapid mobilization and which puts a premium on training people in advance to deal with disasters. It can draw on more than 65,000 employees in the U.S., nearly double the paid staff of the Red Cross. The Salvation Army's daily work in permanent shelters with the homeless and poor and with people trying to put their lives back together after an apartment fire or years of alcohol and drug abuse helps too. The organization's focus on alleviating human suffering in the name of Jesus Christ resonates in this section of the Bible Belt.
But with its money the Red Cross is doing a lot:
This past weekend, the organization housed 120,000 people in nearly 500 shelters across the country, split about evenly between people who evacuated for Katrina and Rita. The Red Cross is housing another 300,000 in hotels and has given 530,000 families some form of financial assistance.
While the Red Cross raises lots of money it seems to have an entitlement mind set, being "the" emergency relief provider of the establishment. They bring lots of money and hire people for the short term. But those people are green. While the quiet Salvation Army does more with less money. The WSJ link is an email link and should work until Thursday