Friday, April 28, 2006

All The Right Enemies

Dennis Prager:

There are many ways to philosophically divide Americans. Liberal-conservative and religious-secular are two obvious ways. But there is another, no less significant, division: Those who are ashamed of America for being hated and those who wear this hatred as a badge of honor.

I am in the latter group.

I understand such hatred. I am a Jew, a member of the most consistently and deeply hated people in world history. As such, and as coauthor of "Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.), I have devoted decades to thinking about Jew-hatred.

There are basically two possible ways to look at anti-Semitism. One is that anti-Semites are essentially decent folks and Jews have usually been so bad that they have merited anti-Semitic hatred. The second is that the Jews have generally been a decent people who antagonized many of the morally worst people of their time and place.

Anti-Semites would, of course, choose the first explanation. Others would acknowledge that those who have hated the Jews have usually been the vilest of their generation. Whether Roman torturers, Crusaders who massacred Jewish communities on their way to the Holy Land, Nazis or Communists — they all hated Jews. The monsters of the 20th century, the Nazis, made Jew-hatred the centerpiece of their ideology. And the monsters of our young century, militant Muslims, have done the same.

Why have the Jews, always among the weakest and smallest of peoples, attracted the hatred of the most evil people? Because of what the Jews represented. The civility of the Jews' lives and the values the Jews brought into the world — especially ethical monotheism, i.e., a standard of right and wrong based on a moral and judging G-d — made them loathsome in the eyes of those who led particularly uncivil lives and who celebrated moral chaos and cruelty.

Turning to hatred of America, the same questions and answers apply. Either America is evil and hatred of it is merited, or America is a decent country and the haters are evil.

The correct explanation is so obvious that only one who already hates America or who is simply morally confused would choose the first.

[several examples]

Hamas and its many supporters among Palestinians have developed a new theology of cruelty and death — that a Muslim boy who blows himself up while maiming and murdering as many innocent Jews as possible goes to heaven where he is then sexually serviced by dozens of virgins. In the annals of the history of religion, no analogous theology of cruelty and vulgarity has ever been devised. Is it a good or bad reflection on America that Hamas and its Palestinian supporters hate this country?

One more point. When you look at the roster of the America-haters and realize that none of them hates France or Sweden, this assessment of America-hatred is rendered even more obvious. America, largely alone, calls these groups and regimes what they are — evil. America, largely alone, wages war against them. America, largely alone (with Israel), prevents them from assuming far more power.

As I said to my synagogue on the Sabbath after 9-11, "I stand before you as a proud member of the world's two most hated peoples — Americans and Jews."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Common Sense

Snippet from Thomas Sowell:

Are the oil companies charging all that the traffic will bear? No doubt. But they were probably charging all that the traffic would bear when the price of gasoline was half of what it is today.

Even businesses that are losing money are charging all that the traffic will bear. Otherwise they could raise their prices and stop losing money.

Most of the people who are making this claim are charging all that the traffic will bear for their own labor or the use of their own products. Dressing up the plain fact that we all usually prefer more to less in political rhetoric about "gouging" explains nothing. Something that is true all the time cannot explain drastic changes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And He's All Outta Gum

The American Thinker on George Bush cracking his neck, pushing his chair back, and turning to face his opponents.


There are two distinct aspects of President George W. Bush’s persona. Measured against his immediate predecessor, who obsessively managed his daily standing in popularity polls, President Bush appears indifferent, isolated, surrounded by cronies, and even hapless, mired now in the low thirties in the polls. But when elections loom, when voters pay closer attention, and when popularity really matters, he becomes a shrewd poker player, who has lured his enemies into betting on weak hands.

I have nicknamed the second persona “The Crawford Kid.” It is an identity the President probably would never embrace, because keeping it secret keeps his opponents unwary. But they will never learn. Contempt for the President and their own ego-maintenance demands will not let them recognize reality when they are outsmarted.

The Crawford Kid doesn’t swagger, pal around with floozies, or behave like most of the screen versions of a successful itinerant poker player. The Crawford Kid learned long ago that his enemies’ greatest weakness is their inflated self-regard, lethally combined with withering contempt for him and his embrace of evangelical Christianity and Texas.

I have always seen George W. Bush in a different light than almost all of his opponents, and even many of his supporters. He is a trained strategist, an MBA graduate of Harvard Business School, where he learned that the point of having a strategy is to win when it counts, not just to feel good about yourself at every moment of the process.


The Democrats, the leakers, the drive-by media, and other enemies of George Bush have been congratulating themselves over the prospect of victory in November. Maybe just a bit too soon. For they have overplayed the hands dealt them, and bet on Bush spiraling downward.

The Crawford Kid is getting set to walk through the door, sit at the table, maybe look worried as he glances at his cards. Then he will see their bet and raise the stakes.

Good. Of course he did this in 2004. And didn't do much with the victory. This needs to be about a lot more than the 2006 elections. He needs to be kickin' socialist ass and taking names for the next three years and "tagging in" the next Republican President to continue the cage match.

There Are None So Blind

As those who will not see. Mark Shea deconstructs the latest foolishness from Andrew Sullivan. And it is utter foolishness. Why does this guy call himself a Catholic?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Current Gas Prices: Screwed Once Again By Our Helpful Government

What a bunch of jackasses. See this Opinion Journal article for the real politics-caused reasons for $3 gas. It's the ethanol, stupid.

Jews And Liberalism

Excellent column by Dennis Prager.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some Monkeys Want To Use Educational Film Strips To Tell Other Monkeys What To Think About Being Monkeys

This is kind of interesting (H/T Uncommon Descent). Also well done.

Sometimes I do entertain myself by thinking of the world as just a bunch of evolved monkeys doing stuff. A bunch of monkeys built cars so other monkeys could go fast and pass each other and yell at each other in traffic jams. A whole bunch of monkeys build giant aluminum tubes with wings so that other monkeys can arc through the sky at 500 mph on their way to visit their monkey friends far away. Some monkeys built a sightseeing boat, which is now full of monkeys waving and pointing at all the pretty buildings that other monkeys built. Etc. It can actually be quite amusing. But that's all it is. Entertainment.

Somehow, I think the guy who made the film strip thinks he is doing more than being entertaining. Which is itself entertaining. The guy who made the film strip is an entertaining evolved monkey! Whose taking himself seriously, is of course, as entertaining and touching and irrelevant as the other evolved monkeys in the film strip taking themselves seriously.

So, thanks to the film strip, it's Deep Thoughts, until I see the next banana...

Good Lileks Paragraph

From today's bleat:

And that was Friday. That, plus a “24” marathon. Yes, I cut loose on Friday night: it’s “Homestyle” popcorn, with extra grease and large granules of salt! None of that low-fat stuff on Friday night, ‘cause I’m pimpin’ out my corn. (Note: I hate, hate, hate the term “pimping” as a synonym for “increasing the superficial exterior aesthetics.” The origins of the word are not exactly mysterious; it refers to those fellows who use force, threats of force, and crude psychology to make drug-addicted women walk the streets and service panhandled men in cars in dark alleys. But somehow we’ve gotten away from that. I wouldn’t be surprised to read a story about a new Papal tiara, and learn that Benedict had “pimped out his rainments.”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

First Time I've Seen It Stated Quite Like This

Ran across this question here:

Has Charles Darwin become the new Aristotle?

Diversify Celebration

Let's widen our nets to celebrate truth, and not mere "diversity". A very good essay.

It begins:

While preparing to interview a job candidate recently, I studied the website of the applicant's current academic employer, wondering at what sort of college he worked. Now I probably should not have been so astonished at the answer. Among the website's nuggets of inane propaganda was the proclamation, "Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common, celebrate it everyday."

A daily celebration of diversity? Is diversity a "thing"? Doesn't one assign truth values to propositions rather than to things? But we know that this assertion means that no statements are true of all people because people differ too much from one another in their opinions, values, habits, customs, and beliefs -- not to mention gender, ethnicity, and sexual preference. In fact, the differences are such that nothing applicable to all can go by the name of truth. For nothing applies to all. One might as well declare, "I have nothing in common with you; but since you also have nothing in common with me, we have something in common after all. We'll call it diversity. Ergo, let's throw a party!"

One might chuckle at the fatuous diversity drivel masquerading as wisdom, but, to paraphrase the title of Richard Weaver's famous polemic, "Fatuous drivel has Consequences."

Ruthless, But Richly Earned

American Digest has a great round up of literary anti-journalist quotes.

This Scrappleface post ties in nicely.

A State Of Being Can Be Its Own Punishment

It's sad, really:

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The United States is at war, a global struggle against Islamic extremists who aim to destroy the Western infidels and form an international caliphate governed by Islamic sharia law. They triggered a war with the 9/11 attacks, carried out in typically cowardly fashion by suicide bombers who targeted civilians.

But faced with such dire threats, some still insist on seeing us as the problem. Look no further than the April 17 edition of the online magazine Salon, where Nina Burleigh describes her foray into a Red America town in upstate New York.

“Eighty of Narrowsburg’s 319 adults are military veterans and at least 10 recent school graduates are serving in Iraq or on other bases overseas right now,” Burleigh writes. And, horror of horrors, “The school’s defining philosophy was traditional and conservative, starting with a sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline, leavened with a rafter-shaking reverence for country and flag.”

That became a problem when her son started kindergarten and learned to love his country, forcing Burleigh to have a big talk with the little guy. “I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn’t have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them,” she writes.

Hopefully, even her five-year-old was able to see through Burleigh’s childish untruths.


In his book “While Europe Slept” American expatriate Bruce Bawer writes that he and his homosexual partner fled to the continent in the late 1990s, hoping to escape the evangelism that was making them so uncomfortable in the United States. Instead, they found that liberal Europe was being overwhelmed by conservative Muslim immigrants. Bawer wonders if Western values will survive there.

“It’s as if Europe, after all the horrors it inflicted on itself in the 20th century in the name of God and country and Volk were determined to yank up its roots, pull down the flags and base its sense of identity on safely superficial things,” he writes. But, “a civilization with so prosaic a self-understanding is a house of cards, easily toppled by a foreign people possessed of a fierce, all-subsuming sense of who they are and what they believe.”

For now, Burleigh has “rescued” her child. “Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,” she writes. “Not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I’ve never seen a flag on the premises.”

Too bad she doesn’t know, as Europeans are learning, that self-defeat begins with self-loathing. It’s easy to say “The United States is too strong; what’s happening in Europe couldn’t happen here.” But to make sure it doesn’t, we’ll need to have pride in our country and be willing to fight for it.

Even after her diatribe (but before he returned to Manhattan) Burleigh’s son told her, “But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!” Hopefully, someday the mother will be as wise as her kindergartner was.

In The Pipeline

Ace Of Spades opines on the upcoming line-up of movie releases.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Well, Duh.

This. I'd like to see the "best of" footage.

What Conversion Requires

Nice post by Mark Shea as he encourages a prospective convert to Catholicism from Episcopalianism.

One snippet I liked:

One thought experiment a friend of mine proposes to his well-meaning Evangelical students when they are tempted to suppose that "we're all saying the same thing" is to cheerfully say, "Great! Then I'll see you after class! Let's go adore the Blessed Sacrament and ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Supreme Pontiff John Paul the Great for the Holy Souls in Purgatory." Voila! It turns out we aren't all saying the same thing.

A Nightmarish Descent Into Depravity

I'm talking about the do-nothing government in England, not the garden-variety miscreants and thugs that government is supposed to be protecting society from as its number one priority. They do not believe in that in England anymore. A depressing portrait by Theodore Dalrymple of what could only be indicative of civilizational suicide. The atheists might deny it, but really, by and large, it seems that the world lately has been amply illustrating that the prime result of turning away from the true God is simple death and chaos. But hey, it's all worth it if we can all get stoned, drunk, and screw with abandon, right?

Ace Of Spades On A Roll

He's on fire today (PG13 for language). This, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Also, an Ace blast from the past.

While I'm at it, a couple of interesting ones from Peeve Farm, also.

Simple Common Sense

Here's a nice example of why I like the Legionaries Of Christ priests. Theological truth, cleanly presented. It is good that National Review has an LC as an occasional columnist.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

At Least Spare Us Your Protestations Of Bravery

Mark Shea on media cravenness:

The Mainstream Media: Bullies...

One such moment occurred during the recent fracas over the Danish cartoons. Christians, of course, have long been used to the fact that their most sacred beliefs are treated to casual contempt in the mainstream media. Any morning for the past 20 years, a Christian could expect to turn on the tube or open the paper and be regaled with the glories of a crucifix immersed in a vat of urine or an image of the Blessed Virgin covered in dung. Organs like the New York Times have been only too happy to keep us up to date on these latest cutting-edge developments in blasphemy. And naturally, Christian complaints have been simultaneously disregarded as the petty bleats of small-minded censors and as the ominous rumbles of an incipient theocratic regime that is just about to impose martial law and crush the free press. This way, journalists could not only bully voiceless Christians who do not have access to the editorial pages of the Times, but also pat themselves on the back for their raw courage as they pound on the beliefs of quiet, decent people who grieve when their crucified Lord is subjected to further abuse. All these journalists had to do was intone words about the sacredness of our free press and they were off the hook.


Then came the Cartoon Jihad, when real theocrats who really do want to impose Islamic law on the whole world, crush the free press, and shout (as one Islamic protester so eloquently summed up his beliefs), "Freedom go to hell!" The response of the champions of the free press in the New York Times, (and Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune) editorial rooms (among others): They would not publish the Danish cartoons because of a sudden and exquisite sensitivity to the religious sensibilities of their readers.

Uh huh.

Get real...

[more follows]

The Dynamics Of Projection

Refusing to repent of their own personal sin, they project it outwards onto others, whom they attack with extreme irrational viciousness. The American Spectator on the lack of civility at highly popular left-wing sites.


Does a rational Left still exist in the American political firmament?

The question arises, far from the first time, as a result of this news feature from the front page of last Saturday's Washington Post:

The story is a profile of a Lefty blogger named Maryscott O'Connor, host of the innocently titled blog "My Left Wing." Again and again, Post reporter David Finkel was required to use "[expletive]" in the course of quoting Ms. O'Connor and her fellow bloggers of the Left. As in the title of her post one morning, "WAKE THE [expletive] UP." To which the reader comments were typically along the lines of: "Thank you for the kick in the [expletive]. I wrote to my [expletive] so-called representatives. I also wrote to my [expletive] congressman to get off his [expletive] and do the right [expletive] thing."

Anyone who takes even the most occasional peek at leftist blogs knows that this is par for the course. It's not enough to be frustrated or angry or to disagree with those of us on the Right, and certainly not enough to try to use reasoned arguments to persuade or enlighten. Instead, all that seems to matter is the intensity of the rant and the inventiveness of the calumny that can be heaped on conservatives. Aside from the puerility -- indeed, the perpetual adolescence -- of the Left's fascination with vulgarities, what's also lost is any sense that reasoned discourse is of any value whatsoever, along with any sense of responsibility for maintaining a civil society.

At the risk of paying too much attention to Ms. O'Connor -- she is hardly unique in her rantings, but is so representative of the Angry Left that she serves this column's purpose well -- she actually did write a lengthy blog post in which she explained/defended the regular use of vulgarities. Here's the "nut graph" (a journalism term meaning the paragraph that sets up and explains the rest of the story, but in this case the double-entendre is appropriate) of her argument, such as it is (complete with her original emphases):

These people aren't offended by our use of profanity -- these people are offended by our existence. They don't want us to stop using profanity -- they want us to shut up -- or, even better, to be made to shut up. Preferably with force, and maybe tortured to make sure we'll STAY shut up after they leave the room. So, pardon me if I blow a giant f***ing raspberry sound when that particular boogeyman of an argument gets plopped into the discussion about profanity....

Except, of course, that she actually spelled out the word before "raspberry."

THE PROBLEM IS THAT this is what millions of people really think -- if indeed what they do can be called "thinking." They truly believe, perhaps as a form of mass psychosis, that those of us on the Right aren't just mistaken, that we don't honestly disagree with them, but that we're evil, vicious, proto-totalitarians. Which, of course, apparently gives them the right to spew all sorts of tommyrot such as Ms. O'Connor's expressed opinion that President George W. Bush is a "sociopath" and Vice President Dick Cheney is "Satan." Referring to the current administration, she writes: "The worst people on Earth are running the Earth."

Do she and her ilk really believe this? Do they truly believe that Bush is worse than Muammar Qaddafi or Kim Jong-Il? Do they even bother to listen to themselves, much less apply rational analysis to their beliefs? Are they utterly ignorant of history? On what basis do they believe what they believe?

Sadly, these ranting purveyors of intemperate invective aren't just somewhere out on the fringe. The Left's elected leaders exhibit the same malady: They don't just say (wrongly) that the result of conservative policies would exacerbate poverty; they say we want to make little old ladies freeze in the streets while orphans starve in the gutters. They don't just say our judges read the law wrongly, but instead accuse the judges of all sorts of ills ranging from racism to theocratic longings and even to latent brown-shirt tendencies.

If you disagree with today's Left, you're not just wrong; you're Evil with a capital "E." Or, rather, a capital effing "E." Because of that, the normal rules of civil discourse apparently don't apply. And it's not just the normal rules of civility represented by avoidance of vulgarity. Also abandoned are the normal rules of argument: citing evidence; persuading by reference to authorities or sources acknowledged in common as being valid; explaining even a semi-believable motive for the opponent's supposed perfidy. For example, if you believe the president is Evil incarnate, you don't have to explain why he would have "lied" to get us into war. And if the normal rules of argument don't apply, you don't have to give evidence that he "lied" rather than merely received bad intelligence, or even to acknowledge that there is a distinction between a lie and an honest mistake.

If all that matters is the barbaric yawp of a raging id, there's no need for reason at all, much less any need to engage the other side, to find compromise or any solutions -- indeed, no need to do anything but to hate and to spew venom...

SNL Parody

This is pretty good. A sendup of CNN on SNL. H/T Ace of Spades.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Way We Still Are

Great Vanderleun essay.

Trunk Monkey!!!

Great set of commercials. Very natural acting. Includes monkey.

Quake Centennial

April 18, 1906 was the San Francisco earthquake and fire. The USGS has an excellent series of web pages detailing the event.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Great Debate

How many Darwinists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Charles Darwin: None. But if it could be shown that the bulb entered the socket without a series of clockwise turns, my theory would absolutely break down.

ACLU: None! We have separation of church and state in this country.

Eugenie Scott: None. To say a Darwinist did it is not a scientific explanation.

Panda’s Thumb: None. To say that light bulbs don’t screw themselves in is not a testable proposition. You can’t prove they don’t. That would be an argument from incredulity. You are committing a ‘Darwinist Of The Gaps’ fallacy.

Generic 1: None. Time and chance are sufficient. Eventually it is inevitable that the bulb will be in the socket. Say, in a billion years.

Generic 2: None. The quintessentially non-random process of natural selection is sufficient. Those objects capable of giving off light when screwed into sockets will be in sockets. Those that aren’t will be in the trash.

Richard Dawkins: None. A light bulb that gives off 1% light intensity is very much worth having. A bulb sitting on the shelf at the supermarket gives off a certain amount of light. One in the cupboard at home gives off more. One five feet from the socket gives off more, and one two feet away even more. One in the socket gives off the most of all. It is therefore inevitable that the bulb will reach the socket.

Stephen J. Gould: None. The bulb jumped into the socket when no one was looking. Gradually.

Kenneth Miller: None. The bulb was already serving a function: providing rigidity to its corrugated packaging on the supermarket shelf. Co-option did the rest.

Theistic Evolutionist: All of the above explanations are substantially correct. But the more important question is the meaning of the light.

Philip Johnson: One.

Michael Behe: One.

Stephen Meyer:

William Dembski:

Guillermo Gonzalez: One. But isn’t it interesting that other light bulbs allowed the Darwinist to see what he was doing as he screwed in this light bulb.

Darwin Chorus: Oh, yeah? Which Darwinist? What is his name? If you won’t tell us that, you’re being disingenuous, and therefore no one screwed in the light bulb!

Flying Spaghetti Monster: Two. But don’t ask me how they got in there. Oh. 'Darwinists'? I thought you said 'fruit flies'.

Michael Ruse: Are you trying to create a theocracy? The light bulbs in the reeducation camps will be depressingly dim. Unless they use candles. Do Christians know how to make fire?

Internet Infidels: First answer this: How many priests did it take to burn Galileo at the stake? Huh?!?

Panda’s Thumb: If a Darwinist had screwed it in, it would be an efficient fluorescent, not a wasteful incandescent. Therefore no one screwed it in.

Talk.Origins: We’ve observed all kinds of light bulbs in all kinds of sockets: flashlights, automobile headlights, Christmas tree lights, Las Vegas marquees. There is nothing special about this light bulb and this socket.

Richard Dawkins:
None. Darwin made it possible to feel fulfilled sitting in the dark.

Update: Richard Dawkins has accused me of leaving out one of his best arguments, so I add it below:

Richard Dawkins: To say that it took a Darwinist to do the screwing in of the lightbulb is to explain precisely nothing. The obvious question becomes: Who did the screwing to create the Darwinist screwer? And who did the screwing to create that screwer? There would have to be an infinite regress of screwers. And if you invoke some invisible, mystical Unscrewed Screwer (for which we have no credible evidence) to start the whole thing off, why not just say that the lightbulb screwed itself in and be done with it?

Update: I've been linked at Uncommon Descent where I found these comments:

Eugenie Scott:
No one doubts that the light bulb got screwed into the socket. The only debate is over the details.

Richard Dawkins: Evolution is the study of light bulbs that look as if they’ve been screwed into their sockets for a purpose.

For S.J. Gould’s answer: It’s called punctuated illumination. And then we have to be careful about non-overlapping illuminarium.

Daniel Dennett: Perhaps we should keep fundamentalist light bulb inserters in cultural zoos so future generations can see how “in the dark” they really are!

Comment by DonaldM — April 18, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

Pianka: If we could just produce a directed surge of destructive electricity which would burn out 90% of the worlds light bulbs thereby conserving energy in the long-run and…

…you… you errr… didn’t get that on tape, did you?

Comment by Scott — April 18, 2006 @ 7:01 pm

Also, from my own comment section (Larry Fafarman):

Judge Jones: The inanity of that question is breathtaking.

Update: More from Uncommon Descent commenters:

IDist: The lightbulb emits light and was screwed in by an intelligence. The lightning bug’s rear emits light and therefore it must have been screwed in by an intelligence.

Comment by Fross [apparently a good-humored Darwinist]— April 18, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

Sternberg at Smithsonian: I’m not allowed to question how the lightbulb is twisted into the socket now and they took the lightbulb, the switch, circuit and socket from my office.

Biblical account: Abraham walked with the light, Isaac inherited the light, Jacob stole it and built a ladder to place the light in Yisrael, Moses wrote a “How To” instruction manual for climbing the ladder, Joshua cleared the way for one to climb the ladder to the light, the twelve tribes argued about 613 traditional ways to walk up the ladder for the light, Christ welcomed everyone into his mansion saying there are many rooms and many lightbulbs, sending forth 12 disciples to the world with goodnews of grace that he fulfilled all the instruction manuals steps of Moses, the prophets and Psalms, and even though all others failed, he’d lift them to the light to see how one screws in the bulb if they believed on him. And he would return one day as light eternal for those who repented of not following instructions and they would never have to screw in another light bulb.

Comment by Michaels7 — April 18, 2006 @ 8:24 pm


Generic 3: It is impossible to screw in a lightbulb with any less than four Darwinists. You need one to screw it in and three to act as peer-review referees. Otherwise there will be no light. If an IDist gets three referees to watch, even if the light goes on, someone's going to get fired.


SciAm Editorial: Two MIT researchers have announced the results of a breakthrough experiment, detailed in this month's cover story. To summarize briefly, they first turned on the overhead light in the kitchen. Then one of them donned mittens, got on a chair, and very slowly rotated the bulb in a counterclockwise direction, until it just turned off. The two then proceeded to jump up and down on the kitchen floor, in order to generate random displacement perturbations at the socket site. In an astonishingly short time, the bulb relit.

This experimental result powerfully establishes that lightbulbs are capable of screwing themselves into sockets with no intelligent guidance, demolishing the "one Darwinist" explanation of the creationists, which should now join epicycles, phlogiston, vital elan, and the luminiferous ether in the museum of discredited hypotheses. It is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say that Darwinists themselves are becoming wholly superfluous to proper scientific explanation. This important result is something to keep in mind as the nation-wide battle over school district science standards continues to rage.


Michael Ruse: None. Light bulbs in sockets are a fact, fact, FACT!

Richard Lewontin: None. For we take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to self-screwing lightbulbs. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a self-screwing explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to self-screwing causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce self-screwing explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that self-screwing is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Darwinist hand on the bulb.

Update: From my comment section (chunkdz):

Ken Miller: None, because the bulb could be used as a drinking glass, the filament could be a spring, the screw could be used as an archimedian pump and the contacts could be used to make a dandy tie-clip!

Which prompts me to add:

Stuart Kaufmann: None. Notice that both the screw pattern on the light bulb's base and the filament itself exhibit the form of a single helix, testifying to powerful, ubiquitous self-organizing properties in nature.


Talk.Origins: None. The evidence for light bulbs falling up into their sockets is every bit as solid as the evidence for gravity. So why are we still calling it a theory?


NCSE Pamphlet: Scientists have established that the early earth had in abundance all of the materials needed for light bulbs. There was sand. Bauxite. Tungsten. And plenty of electrons. There is absolutely no question among credible scientists that a functioning light bulb could arise from these. The only debate is about which of many possible physical pathways resulted in the light bulb.

Stephen J. Gould: None. The light bulb being in the socket is completely fortuitous. If the tape of evolutionary history were replayed, the bulb would not be found in the socket. Indeed, if you replayed the tape from even further back in time, there wouldn't be a light bulb or a socket. Instead you might find something else entirely. Like a ping pong ball. In a jar of pickles.


Generic 4: None. To just throw up our hands and say "a Darwinist did it" is a science stopper, and will only hamper our efforts to find the real explanation.

DISCLAIMER: This is, of course, a parody. None of the persons or institutions listed above made those actual quotes.

Also, as a pre-emptive point of clarification, I am not a Young Earth Creationist, I do not believe that all the fossils were laid down in a Great Flood, I believe that the universe is around 14 billion years old, that forms of life have evolved, that is, unfolded over time from relatively simple (although there is nothing "simple" about a bacterium) to relatively complex. I am a big fan of science and the scientific method. I am not a big fan of the doctrine of metaphysical naturalism. I believe the ID movement has very good arguments that are simply failing to be addressed in a serious way by its opponents, many of whom refuse to directly examine the books, documents, and fully stated arguments generated by the IDists. It is from that overall perspective that I created this parody.

For those interested, I've been rounding up (list is complete at this point through October 2005) posts I've made on this blog regarding the overall theism/atheism/evolution/ID topic. The round-up can be found here.

This post highlights "A Principle For Examining The Intelligent Design Controversy".

Striking A Brave Blow For Freedom Of Inquiry

From Telic Thoughts:

Biologist and associate professor PZ Myers explains why Francis Beckwith does not deserve tenure:

I get to vote on tenure decisions at my university, and I can assure you that if someone comes up who claims that ID 'theory' is science, I will vote against them. If someone thinks the sun orbits around the earth, I will vote against them. If someone thinks fairies live in their garden and pull up the flowers out of the ground every spring, I will vote against them. Tenure decisions are not pro forma games, but a process of evaluation, and I'd rather not have crackpots promoted. Beckwith may be a nice fellow with a commendable publication record, but when it gets right down to it, his untenable position on intelligent design puts him smack in the middle of the tinfoil hat brigade. And that position on ID is a focus of many of his publications, so it is certainly a legitimate criterion for judging him.

Later in the comments section, Myers rationalizes his closed-minded position as follows:

It's a matter of whether it screws up their ability to do their job. People have a right to do any crazy damn thing that doesn't harm others outside the workplace…but when they're advocating lunacy in their profession, then it's bye-bye time.

This, of course, is muddled thinking.

The tenure review process is designed to determine whether someone has “the ability to do their job.” The junior faculty member has six years to construct a track record of success. During these six years, the junior faculty member acquires teaching evaluatons from students and colleagues. The junior faculty member acquires grants and sets up a lab with a productive research program. The junior faculty member develops a reputation of collegiality and service within the department and the university. If claiming that ID 'theory' is science means you are part of the "tinfoil hat brigade" and this interferes with one’s ability to do their job, this should impact negatively on these conventional criteria used to vote for tenure. In other words, Myers's criterion is an extrinsic litmus test. If thinking that ID is science is as bad as he says it is, the candidate’s ability to secure good evaluations, grants, and publications will be compromised and Myers’s criterion is redundant and superfluous. If the candidate is able to succeed according to the conventional measures for tenure, Myer’s criterion is falsified and becomes nothing more than an attempt to institutionalize his prejudice.

But let’s not stop here. Either Myers is a lone crank or his views are shared by others in academia. If it is the latter, the sociological implications are immense. A commmon argument against ID is that it presents no research and publications in the mainstream peer reviewed literature. But Myers is one of those peer reviewers. Since he has admitted he would deny tenure to someone who thinks ID is science, it stands to reason he would also deny the hiring of any ID proponent. Yet to conduct ID-based research to generate preliminary data for grant funding purposes, the person is in essense declaring his belief that ID is science. In other words, an attempt to get a ID-based research program off the ground is reason, according to Myers, for kicking you out of academia.

Vicious Enemy Propaganda

Really ought to be coming from the enemy, not us. Very interesting World Net Daily article.

It begins thusly:

An Iraqi officer of significant rank approached my translator as I quietly took notes near the banks of the Euphrates River, at a combat observation post named COP Dunlop. He knew I was an embedded American. He had a sense, perhaps, that I was a sympathetic soul, and he wanted to pass along an urgent message.

We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. I learned he was an educated and successful man, an accomplished soldier, and quite knowledgeable about the affairs of the world. He had served under Saddam. He openly spoke about the likelihood of corruption in the new Iraqi Ministry of Defense. We spoke about black-market arms trading, ancient smuggling routes, and the problem of porous borders.

We even discussed personal matters, and the question of his taking a second wife. (I told him the one about a thousand pair of panty-hose hanging from King Solomon's shower-curtain.) We had a reasonably long and genuine conversation about matters of importance to all men. And at a certain moment, he grew a little uneasy and blurted out what he had wanted to say from the beginning:

Why do you people not tell our story? Why do you not say what is going on? Why do you come to our country and see what is happening, you see the schools and the hospitals and you see the markets and you eat with Sunni and Shia soldiers – everybody eats together, everybody works together –you see that Saddam is gone forever and we are free to speak and complain.

You see we are working and eating together and fighting together – Sunni and Shia – you see what we are building here, you see the votes we make as one people. Then you say to the world about a great war and horrible things and how we are all killing each other? We are not animals! We are Iraqis. Look around you! Look!

Non-English speaking Iraqis are distressed and disheartened by American media bias. Many feel personally offended by what they read in translation and hear of in the foreign press. I am not talking about press information and public affairs officers. I am not talking about coalition soldiers (though every one I spoke with on the subject was equally frustrated.) I am talking about Arabic-speaking Iraqis. They see a difference between what we're seeing and what we're saying. What does that tell you about the extent of our problem?

I was truly "downrange" in Iraq, embedded in Baghdad, Sadr City, Fallujah, and a series of remote combat outposts and forward operations bases in the Sunni Triangle. I spent much of my time in areas that were in immediate transition or wholly controlled by Iraqi forces. I wanted to get dirty, and I wanted to see the worst of it.

I was entirely too close to a vehicle-borne IED – intended, possibly, to destroy my party – which tragically killed a U.S. Marine and a young Iraqi boy. I trampled through a mass of depleted uranium, breathed the squalor of a Saddam-era slum, slept uneasily through the bursts of an urban gunfight, and dined on the partially-cooked head of a sheep. But these are not my most disturbing recollections.

Civil unrest is distasteful and at times gruesome, but in much of the Middle East it is an abiding condition. The scenes that flicker in my mind seem graver than the filth, disorder, and sorrow that have been a part of Iraq's dramatic transition. And now that I have returned to Washington, as memories play alongside my daily media intake, they combine to create an increasingly gloomy montage.

It was hilarious at the time. So funny, in fact, I nearly wept. I will never forget the sight of my colleague, a well-known, market-leading radio reporter feverishly clutching his satellite phone as a Chinook transport helicopter flew by, half a mile or so away. He was standing right beside me as he dialed through the time zones to go "live from Iraq":

We're right in the middle of the action! I'm sorry ... I can't hear you! There's a Blackhawk landing right behind me! I can't quite describe what's going on! This is unbelievable!

At the time, you see, we were just outside an Embassy chow hall, quietly discussing the weather. We had just eaten a magnificent lunch. In this combat reporter's trembling right hand was the target of his desperate screams, the satellite phone – his listeners' link to the horror and chaos of war, the sweat and tears, the booming, blood-shod tragedy of it all. And in his left hand – I swear it – a chocolate milkshake...


Cool article about the F-22 Raptor fighter. (H/T Ace Of Spades).

As excerpted by Ace:

The aircraft is simply the most advanced ever built. There is nothing on earth to touch it. In simulated dogfights it has wiped the floor with the opposition.

In one such encounter, six F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighters — which the Raptor is replacing and which has a perfect combat record of 101 victories with zero defeats — were sent up to “kill” a single Raptor. All six were shot down.

A bit of perspective is needed here. The Eagle is the most lethal air-superiority fighter in the US arsenal and its pilots are the best in the world.

One of those “aura” pilots I was talking about earlier is Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Huffman, the commander of the 64th Aggressor Squadron.

The Aggressors are the dogfighting experts of the US Air Force. In aerial combat training they act as the “enemy”. It’s their job to give the opposing fighter jocks a hard time. It’s also their job to “kill” them. A sort of baptism of fire — a wake-up call.

Huffman and his hot-shots were sent up against the Raptor. I’ll let him finish the story.

“We still joke about our missions against the Raptor, because they can be fairly boring.

“We fly to the [designated combat] range. Die. Go to the tanker [to refuel]. Go back out to the range. Die. Go back to the tanker. Go back out. Die. After the third time we go home.”

Same thing the next day, and the next.

As Huffman told Code One magazine, the 64th flew almost 300 sorties against the Raptors “and we never once got to merge [make visual contact] against a single Raptor”.

Another hard-assed air combat supremo, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Garland, a former F-15 Eagle pilot and now a Raptor jockey, told Code One magazine: “Six adversaries provide a good workout for two F-15 Eagle pilots. But for two Raptors, defeating six adversaries is about as difficult as eating breakfast. We [Raptor pilots] don’t even break a sweat.”


So how do you fight something you can’t see, fire at or out-turn? The short answer is: you don’t. You just die.

See the article for info about how the Raptor achieves this.

Rube Goldberg

It semes that the Japanese have a TV show which showcases amusing Rube Goldberg style machines. Here's an entertaining video of these things in action (H/T Ace Of Spades).

But here's the really cool thing! Just like the similar tightly interlocked nanomachinery of the cell, these contraptions were built using nothing more than random mutation and natural selection acting over billions of years. Obviously.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Desperate Explaining Away

The latest ad-hominem foolishness from the would-be Darwinist vigilantes at Panda's Thumb (see in particular Mike Gene's comment).

A Patron "Saint" For Our Times

Vanderleun on the "Gospel of Judas". One heck of a reflection. Here's how it starts:

Have you ever betrayed your promise?
Did you ever break a vow?
Have you traded love for money,
And are you happy now?

Did you kiss him in the garden,
And then abandon him to fate?
Is your final sin forgiven,
Or is it far too late?

WHEN IT COMES TO DISCOVERING new ways to cheapen the human soul, the "professional intellectuals" of our society have cornered the market. So it was last week when, timed carefully to cash in on the Easter holiday, the "serious" editors of National Geographic chose to release their gleanings from a sheaf of rags and call them "The Gospel of Judas."

Having risen through the echo chamber of "higher" education and survived the ruthless but quiet vetting process of their "profession," these editors knew full well that what they were putting out into the world was not a "gospel." They also knew that calling it a "gospel" would ensure greater attention and greater sales. Beyond that, the editors, secular cultists all, also got a quiet little tingle by having, in their minds, "stuck it" to the Christian church once again. As usual, such secularists love to stick it to Christianity. Addicts of auto-erotic spiritual asphyxiation, their onanistic pleasure in these deeds is only enhanced if they can be performed during the most holy days of the Chritian calendar. Only then can maximum profit and pleasure be assured.

This dark thrill of denigration has the immediate benefit of pleasingly confirming them in their own Church of Zero, and the secondary benefit of being much, much safer than, say, sticking it to Islam, a faith that enforces its demands for respect with bombs and beheadings, and whose central message to all cowards is "Don't mess with Muhammad." The sad fact of our modern era is that if you denigrate Islam, you often have to bag up body parts and hose down the sidewalk, but when you denigrate Christianity the most you need to clean up after yourself is a warm washcloth.

Your gedankenexperiment for today is to ask yourself, regardless of your religious beliefs, if the editors of National Geographic, being given an ancient manuscript that "proved" the Koran was nothing more than the blatherings of some ergot-besotted Bedouin who had munched one too many hallucinogenic plants while hanging out in a cave near Mecca, would have published the same "proof" as loudly and as broadly? Would they have done so, or would they have issued a Press Release citing concerns for the "provenance" of the manuscript and their employees' safety? Regardless of your religious beliefs, you know the shameful answer.

But beyond these considerations, the publication of the "Gospel" of Judas has another, deeper and more lasting benefit to our neophytes of nihilism. It puts one of the final elements of their anti-morality play at center stage. It seeks to sanctify treason.

It was never a question of "if," but only a question of "when" our contemporary society would discover an avatar who would make treason acceptable. It only codifies the realities of their secular belief system. Treason against others or one's country has long been as common as adultery in this country. Like adultery the rate of treason is on the rise because, like adultery and similar forms of personal betrayal, it no longer has any consequences at all...

Thursday, April 13, 2006


His latest is good.

A couple of gems:

Four years into the “war on terror,” the Bush administration has begun promoting a new formulation: “the long war.” Not a reassuring name. In a short war, put your money on tanks and bombs—our strengths. In a long war, the better bet is will and manpower—their strengths, and our great weakness. Even a loser can win when he’s up against a defeatist. A big chunk of Western civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, Islam figures: Hey, why not us?


What’s the difference between a hothead and a moderate? Well, the extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” while the moderate Rafsanjani has declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history,” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” in one blast, because “a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.” Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we’re just arguing over the details.


To assume Tehran would never nuke Israel because a shift in wind direction would contaminate Ramallah is to be as ignorant of history as most Palestinians are: from Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate, to the insurgents in Iraq today, Islamists have never been shy about slaughtering Muslims in pursuit of their strategic goals.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holy Week

Starting late tomorrow afternoon, I won't be blogging until the Monday after Easter, because I'll be celebrating the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The Anchoress has a great post about these days. Also, see the comments.

Not Your Usual View Of Illegal Immigration

Very interesting FrontPageMag article.


"All these immigration bills are essentially the same,” the wise man told me. “None are intended to stop illegal immigration. Our restrictions are designed merely to be filters to weed out the weak, lazy and stupid from getting into the U.S. Those who get through will be the fittest, and they will bring America the best genetic stock as new citizens.”

This columnist was first to identify the paradox that today’s liberals demand that Darwinian evolution be taught in our public school classrooms but insist that real Darwinian competition – dodge ball, score keeping, the very idea of winners and losers – be banished from the playgrounds of those same schools. Do they believe that Charles Darwin, the founder of evolutionary theory, was right or not?

I occasionally interview a deep but cynical thinker. Because he prefers to remain anonymous, I call him “The Darwinian.” Quoted above and hereafter, this is his take on current events. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of this columnist nor of Front Page Magazine, but they provide food for thought concerning today’s most widely discussed issue, immigration.

“At America’s southern border we, in effect, have invisible signs like those at the rides at Disneyland that say ‘You must be this tall to go on this ride,’” he told me. “Those who are strong, smart, tough and determined enough to climb the fence, cross the desert or river, or pay the best Coyote human smugglers and are able to evade the Migras [immigration officers] will survive until the next amnesty and be given citizenship. And this survival of the fittest will, in the long run, benefit the United States.”

But aren’t such illegals a drain on our welfare and other social services?

“Of course, but only in the short run,” The Darwinian replied. “Most come with a strong work ethic, devout faith, and stronger family values than most liberal Americans. They bring a transfusion of values, ethics and passion that have been hemorrhaging away in America. And without this influx the United States would be in the same demographic decline, unable to reproduce itself, as Europe and Japan are. We need fresh blood and these vigorous genes to renew America, as has happened many times in the past.”

But wouldn’t legal immigration be better?

“No,” replied the Darwinian. “The gauntlet we have now, and that will continue with its bar raised in the bills now before Congress, provides a better test of fitness than arbitrary bureaucratic standards of who should get in. Bureaucrats approve those who are docile and obedient. Natural selection rewards those who are the toughest, which often means those willing to bend and break the rules.

“True enough,” he continued, “today’s barriers let lawbreakers slip through – indeed, turn the undocumented immigrants into law breakers. But the law they’re breaking is largely a product of racial and economic discrimination designed to protect the status and jobs of those already here, to protect the lazy and comfortable from Darwinian competition. To the degree that competition has been reduced by our politicized immigration laws, the United States has violated its own ideal as a capitalist nation.

“Free market competition,” he continued, “is just Darwinian evolution operating economically. It’s rightly been called Bio-nomics, natural economics. This is why the so-called conservationists who support socialism and the Democratic Party are dishonest. Socialism is phony, unnatural economics that leads to the extinction of species.

“Those who hide behind laws, including immigration laws, to avoid such competition are committing slow suicide, growing too fat and lazy to survive,” said The Darwinian. “In the long run you can no more outlaw the law of supply and demand than you can outlaw the law of gravity. And there’s a big supply of cheaper labor just across the border.

“Organized labor is a monopolist attempt to outlaw free market competition,” he continued. “Look at how General Motors, controlled and bled white by its labor unions, is now dying because it has become too weak to stand against competitors. Such unions have also tried to stop immigration, knowing it would undercut the wages unions extort. But if they win, the whole United States will eventually be weakened as General Motors now is. And unions hurt us all as consumers who must pay unnaturally higher prices.”

So, I asked, should we allow an unregulated flood of immigrants to drive American wages down to Third World levels?

“We do regulate the flow,” laughed The Darwinian. “We just do it by raising or lowering the amount of enforcement at the border. The cream of the immigrants floats to the top of this tide, so we keep the barrier high enough that it’s mostly the cream that gets in. Do you think it’s an accident that President Bill Clinton’s administration virtually ordered the Border Patrol to ease its enforcement so he could register a million newly-legalized – and in 10,000 cases felonious – voters for the 1996 election? Or that even the toughest proposed immigration law before Congress right now would build only 698 miles of fence on a 2,000 mile border?

“It’s obvious that powerful interest groups, left and right, want this flow of illegal immigrants. Businesses want more labor competition to hold down wages. Democratic leaders expect that these illegals will disproportionately become Democrat voters and restore power to the Left. The Roman Catholic Bishops see these immigrants as increasing the power of the Catholic Church. Would Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony really be so encouraging to illegals if America were a predominately Catholic country being flooded with illegal Protestant immigrants? I don’t think so.”


And how, I asked, will this play out politically?

“The liberal media is denouncing Republicans as nativists and racists” The Darwinist replied. “But the smarter Hispanics see things the national media tries hard to hide. They see that it’s been Democrats in Congress, not Republicans, who voted to make the illegal aliens felons, and that it’s always been the Democrats, the party of the slave owners and the Klan, who exploit racial differences to gain political power.

“The smarter Latinos also see something else that the Democratic Party has been doing,” he said. “Two of the most loyal Democratic voting blocs have for many decades been organized labor and African-Americans. And who have the Democrats shafted in their frantic rush to win Hispanic votes?

“The Democrats, happy to drive down wages, have stabbed organized labor in the back,” The Darwinist continued. “And knowing that a flood of poor Mexican workers will hurt poor people and African-Americans worse than any other groups, the Democrats in Congress have stabbed the poor and their African-Americans voters in the back, too.

“Smart Hispanics see this,” he said. “They know the Democrats can never be trusted.
And they already understand that the way to have political power is by vote switching. By voting overwhelmingly for Democrats, African-Americans and union workers got taken for granted by the Democratic Party and ignored as unwinnable by the Republican Party. These groups who tied their fate to the Democrats have been betrayed by the party they trusted.

“Smart Latinos won’t make that mistake,” The Darwinian continued. “They won’t be a pawn for either party, even though their cultural values of hard work, family and faith are far closer to the Republicans. Intelligent Hispanics certainly won’t become voter puppets of the Democratic Party. They will become a vibrant bipartisan part of American democracy, like the Irish immigrants from whom came Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.”

Much more of interest can be found in the whole article.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Perversions Of Obedience And Freedom

Islam and secularism are both wrong about human freedom and in complementary ways, as argued in this American Thinker piece.

Latest MSM Poll Finds That The More That People Rely On The MSM, The More Likely They Are To Be Incorrect About Basic Facts

This is rich:

Poll: Media Misleading the Public In Leak Case

What other conclusion can one draw after reading the results of this recent Gallup poll?

PRINCETON, NJ — The latest USA Today/Gallup poll finds more than 6 in 10 Americans critical of President George W. Bush on the leak controversy. The more closely people are following the issue, the more likely they are to say he did something illegal rather than unethical. [...]

The more closely people are following the issue, the more likely they are to say Bush did something illegal rather than unethical, though expert opinion suggests that Bush has the authority to declassify information and thus his actions could not have been illegal. The less attentive respondents are more likely to think Bush did something unethical rather than illegal.

The survey does not ask respondents how they are following the issue, but if the respondents follow average trends, they get their news from television and newspapers.

What the survey appears to suggest, then, is that the more one watches or reads national news reports about Bush's involvement in the leak case, the more likely one is to believe that Bush did something illegal — a conclusion experts regard as erroneous.

The Joys Of An Evolving Banana Republic

One heck of an illustration of corruption here. Basically an extortion racket being run by a lawyer in a wheelchair.

Nastiest Wife On Television

Interesting short article on real estate, contains a link to a very creepy Century 21 ad.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Swing And A Miss

The recently published (and hyped in the NYT) experiment which purportedly demonstrates the Darwinian evolution of irreducible complexity does no such thing. Paul Nelson explains. As does Mike Behe.

The Dynamics Of War

More and more, I'm getting the feeling that the 21st Century is going to be far, far, different than the global village group hug envisioned in the 90's.

Victor Davis Hanson:

And then there is Israel. All sane observers hope it is not drawn into this crisis, and for a variety of reasons. The emboldened Iranians count on this. Yet they do not realize the extent of the dilemma that their rhetoric and nuclear brinkmanship force on an Israeli president. To do nothing, a mere 60 years after the Holocaust, would imply three assumptions on the part of an Israeli leadership — “wiping us off the map” is just theocratic rhetoric; if the Iranians ever do get the bomb, they won’t use it; and if they use it, it won’t be against us.

Those are, in fact, three big “ifs” — and no responsible Israeli can take the chance that he presided over a second holocaust and the destruction of half the world’s surviving Jewry residing in what the radical Islamic world calls a “one-bomb state.”

History would not see such restraint as sobriety, but rather as criminal neglect tantamount to collective suicide, and would reason: “An Israeli prime minister was warned by the president of Iran that he wished to wipe Israel off the map. He was then informed that Iran was close to getting nuclear weapons. And then he did nothing, allowing a radical Islamic regime to gain the means to destroy the Jewish state.”

So for all the lunacy of Mr. Ahmadinejad, it is time for him to sober up and do some cool reckoning. He thinks appearing unhinged offers advantages in nuclear poker. And he preens that unpredictability is the private domain of the fanatical believer, who talks into empty wells and uses his powers of hypnosis to ensure his listeners cannot blink.

Iran, of course, is still an underdeveloped country. It seems to profess that it is willing to lose even its poverty in order to take out one wealthy Western city in the exchange. But emotion works both ways, and the Iranians must now be careful. Mr. Bush is capable of anger and impatience as well. Of all recent American presidents, he seems the least likely to make decisions about risky foreign initiatives on the basis of unfavorable polls.

Israel is not free from its passions either — for there will be no second Holocaust. It is time for the Iranian leaders to snap out of their pseudo-trances and hocus-pocus, and accept that some Western countries are not merely far more powerful than Iran, but in certain situations and under particular circumstances, can be just as driven by memory, history, and, yes, a certain craziness as well.

Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, “Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.” The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.

So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.

So, please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, cool the rhetoric fast — before you needlessly push once reasonable people against the wall, and thus talk your way into a sky full of very angry and righteous jets.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

There Is No Controversy, And We Are Debating It

Paul Nelson:

In tomorrow'’s issue of Science, researchers Jamie Bridgham, Sean Carroll and Joe Thornton of the University of Oregon claim to have shown how an irreducibly complex system might have arisen by a process they call "molecular exploitation." Their paper, "Evolution of Hormone-Receptor Complexity by Molecular Exploitation," Science 312 (7 Apr 2006):97-101 and an accompanying commentary by Chris Adami are sure to stir lively discussion. Mike Behe has already weighed in, arguing that Bridgham et. al. haven't even come close to answering the challenge of irreducible complexity. Tomorrow we'll provide a detailed scientific response to the paper as well.

For the moment, however, we want to point out something that should be obvious, but may escape notice at first glance. The publications by Bridgham et al. and Adami will appear in Science, the flagship journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS has taken a prominent public stance on the intelligent design controversy. And therein lies a mystery, of sorts.

What Scientific Controversy? Oh, That One…

Like nearly all national science organizations, the AAAS has repeatedly insisted that there is no scientific controversy about intelligent design. That must explain why Science this week will publish two scientific articles taking positions on the controversy. The one that doesn’t exist.

There is no scientific controversy about ID. But, just in case, here’s a new primary research publication claiming to test one of ID’s key concepts, irreducible complexity.

Skeptical observers might say that leading journals such as Science or Nature are happy to publish research articles addressing the intelligent design controversy, as long as those articles claim that ID is wrong. Skeptics might also note that the senior author on the Bridgham et al. paper, Joe Thornton, states on his University of Oregon webpage that one of his main research goals is “to illustrate how a complex, tightly integrated molecular system -- one which appears to be ‘irreducibly complex’ -- evolved by Darwinian processes hundreds of millions of years ago.” But of course we must remember that the concept of irreducible complexity has stimulated no research, which is why Professor Thornton is working hard to solve the problem.

Skeptics could feast on a rich buffet of such ironies. Or absurdities. The plain fact is that since the publication of Darwin’s Black Box (1996) and The Design Inference (1998), the problems, concepts, and arguments of intelligent design have steadily been making their way into the scientific (primary research) literature, brought there by scientists themselves as they respond to ID arguments. “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,” quipped Oscar Wilde, “and that is not being talked about” -- and the central concepts of ID, such as irreducible complexity, are in no danger of not being talked about in science. The problems ID raises for theories of naturalistic evolution are genuine, and must be solved if undirected natural processes really did bring about biological complexity. Either those problems will be solved, or they will not. But the problems are not going away any time soon.

Thus, ID casts its shadow across the current scientific literature, very much like someone standing just outside a window, silhouetted by bright sunlight. Those who perceive themselves as safely within the house of science are carrying on a vigorous debate with the alarming figures they see as standing outside. There is no scientific controversy about design or Darwinian evolution, say the inhabitants of the house -- but skeptical onlookers can hear the noisy, through-the-window conversation all the same. Scientific papers are being published trying to refute arguments made by someone. But who?

Welcome to the scientific controversy that doesn’t exist. Pull up a chair, and take a look at this new paper. Just remember -- there’s no controversy here. Now, what do you think of Bridgham et al.’s counterargument to Behe?

We'll give you some thoughts tomorrow. In the meantime you might want to catch up on some reading around irreducible complexity. Here are a few things to whet your appetite...

See original article for embedded links.

Missing Link

NYT article about the newly discovered transitional fossil between fish and land animals. Doug TenNapel has a bit of fun with it.

The Future Lies Ahead

Just started reading this, but it looks pretty good. Science fiction story in which a time-traveller tells the present-day protagonist about the 100 year war with Islam that is just starting. Written by Dan Simmons, a science fiction author. H/T The Anchoress.

There Are Almost No Real Muslims

Orson Scott Card:

Poor Abdul Rahman. He lived in Germany, where there is freedom of religion. He forgot that freedom of religion only applies to non-Muslims who convert to other faiths. Muslims aren't allowed to follow their individual consciences. If you're born a Muslim, then in your entire life you will never, never have a choice about what religion to belong to.

Because if you convert from Islam to another faith, good Muslims have a right -- no, a duty -- to kill you.

Oh, wait. How can I say that? I keep forgetting -- we've been assured ten thousand times since 9/11 that Islam is "a peaceful religion."

Many -- probably most -- Muslims who live as citizens in the United States no longer accept the idea that Islam gives anybody the right to kill anybody.

But enough Muslims do believe there is a death penalty on the crime of converting away from Islam that it remains a dangerous thing to do.

Remember that when poor Abdul Rahman went home to Afghanistan, it was his own parents who turned him in and set him up for the death penalty.

You know: Tough love. Maybe a nice beheading will help our son get his head on straight.

Now the international pressure has led the Afghan court to back down. Suddenly there is "not enough evidence." I wonder how that could be. His parents can affirm that he was born and raised Muslim. He himself has openly stated that he converted to Christianity and has no intention, even under penalty of death, to renounce that conversion. Hard for evidence to get much clearer than that.

Obviously, Afghanistan's government recognized a couple of facts that had clearly been pointed out to them by Condoleezza Rice:

1. Americans are willing to let their soldiers fight in Afghanistan as long as we're bringing them freedom. Specifically, freedom from the religious intolerance of the Taliban, which enforced the most rigid, ridiculous interpretation of Sharia.

2. If Abdul Rahman had been executed for no worse "crime" than converting to Christianity, then a huge portion of the support for the war in the US would evaporate. In short order, American troops would be home and Afghanistan would be on its own.

I would have been one of the most fervent in demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops. Not one more American life should be risked to sustain a system of law in which someone who changes religion can be murdered by the state -- or even by a religion tolerated by the state.

Freedom of conversion is at the core of freedom of religion -- indeed, at the core of freedom of any kind. If you cannot change your mind, your stated beliefs, and the religious community you choose to associate with, you are not free.

What I find most amusing is the widespread belief among Muslims that this Sharia law is essential in order to preserve Islam.

Don't they see that it is exactly this law that destroys Islam wherever it is enforced?

To the degree that the law demanding the death of anyone who converts away from Islam is actually enforced, to exactly that degree the nation that enforces it is not a Muslim nation.

Indeed, there are no Muslims at all, wherever that law is enforced.

Because religion is absolutely not about mere outward compliance with the law. It is about belief -- it is about what a person believes in his heart. But in a nation where conversion away from Islam means death, then no believer can be sure that his own obedience is purely a matter of conscience.

If a person "believes" in Islam, but there has ever been a moment when he thought, "since I can't convert to another faith anyway, what's the point of learning about any other way of thinking?" then that person is not a Muslim.

There is no faith under compulsion. Any nation where Sharia is enforced is not a Muslim nation, and none of its people are Muslims. If they cannot choose not to be Muslim, then they have not chosen to be Muslim. Without freedom not to believe, faith is a sham even if you think you are sincere...

Much more follows, such as:

To those who have never known religious freedom, it is difficult to understand that, when faith is voluntary, it grows more robust among those who freely adhere to it. Because it can be heartbreaking to watch your child turn from the faith of his family. Few parents desire it -- even those with faith in atheism are appalled when a child of theirs converts to a religion that has a god in it.

The answer, though, is to teach them well, and make sure your religion actually works in the real world -- that compliance with its law really does make people happier, that the doctrines really do explain what matters in the real world. A religion that refuses to compete on a level playing field with other ideologies is a religion that confesses its own inferiority.

If Muslims believe Islam can only be defended by blood or exile, then obviously they doubt Islam's strength. They are afraid that Islam is not actually true enough to compete for the hearts and minds of its own believers.

To insist that those who would leave Islam must be killed if they do not revert is to insist that Islam is not, in fact, true.

The truly faithful of any religion will insist on the right of people to lose faith and leave the religion. Any other position is, in fact, a confession of one's own lack of faith.

Of all religions, Islam, with a firm belief that all that happens in the world happens as a result of the will of God, should accept that when someone leaves the faith, it is clearly permitted by the will of God, for God is not so powerless as to need bloody-handed men to enforce his will!

If You Are Against Electrocuting Kittens, Then You Are A Democrat

The wisdom of Jimmy Carter:

John F. Sugg interviews Jimmy Carter for Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Carter fittingly used a parable to illustrate how he'd like to see the political/religious debate unfold.

"I was teaching a Sunday school class two weeks ago," he recalls. "A girl, she was about 16 years old from Panama City [Fla.], asked me about the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

"I asked her, 'Are you for peace, or do you want more war?' Then I asked her, 'Do you favor government helping the rich, or should it seek to help the poorest members of society? Do you want to preserve the environment, or do you want to destroy it? Do you believe this nation should engage in torture, or should we condemn it? Do you think each child today should start life responsible for $28,000 in [federal government] debt, or do you think we should be fiscally responsible?'

"I told her that if she answered all of those questions, that she believed in peace, aiding the poor and weak, saving the environment, opposing torture . . . then I told her, 'You should be a Democrat.' "

The Academic Shafting Of Francis Beckwith

Detailed in this FrontPageMag article.

Nice Coulter Rant

She's great when she doesn't overdo it. I liked this one.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sorry, But Death Is Not A Creative Force

Despite what Darwinists think. Some quotes from a Crisis Magazine article:

Everything we know about DNA points to the fact that it programs a species to remain what it is. … Darwinists can make up stories (they call them “inferences”) about how random beneficial mutations, which alone are highly improbable, can accumulate in an organized manner to bring about genuine evolutionary advances… But Grasse (who was no creationist) dismisses such narratives as “daydreams.”

Natural selection simply eliminates what doesn’t work. That’s all it can do. But the destruction of the unfit does not explain the origin of the fit. As biologist Hans Driesch pointed out long ago, to say that natural selection “creates” anything is a bit like answering the question, “Why are there leaves on the tree?” with, “Because the gardener didn’t prune them away.” Or, as Arnold Lunn put it, it’s like calling the Nazi air strikes creative because they left standing Westminster Abbey.

On Thin Ice

Vanderleun weighs in on the "Jesus May Have Walked On Ice" story.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Right. That Must Be It.

Jesus could have walked on ice.

Folks, no need of repentance after all.

Vat Time Iz It?

Time to unpimp ze auto!! Some funny VW ads. (H/T Peeve Farm)

The Obvious, Analyzed

Dennis Prager:

Here are three questions comparing liberals and conservatives:

1. During the 2004 elections, which car was more likely to be "keyed," i.e., deliberately scratched -- a car with a "John Kerry" bumper sticker in an overwhelmingly conservative area, or a car with a "George W. Bush" sticker in an overwhelmingly liberal area?

2. When speaking at colleges, do right-wing or left-wing speakers need and receive police protection?

3. In a debate between a right-wing and a left-wing speaker before an audience equally divided between left and right, which audience group is more likely to boo and hiss at the speaker with whom it disagrees -- the liberal or the conservative?

Here are the answers:

1. Where I live in liberal Los Angeles, drivers of most vehicles with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers have told me (and I have often seen) that their cars (and mine) were deliberately scratched. When I have asked about the fate of cars with Kerry-Edwards stickers in equally conservative areas in, for example, Orange County or even the Bible Belt, no Democrat has reported such intentional damage to his car. This does not mean it never happens, only that it is far more rare. I would bet a lot of money -- and I am not a gambler -- that cars displaying conservative messages in liberal areas are far more likely to be defaced than cars with liberal messages in conservative areas.

2. When Ann Coulter goes to college campuses, she is accompanied by a bodyguard. And colleges routinely bring in police to protect her and to guard against student violence. No bodyguard or police contingent is necessary for Al Franken. Another leftist, Noam Chomsky, a man who has devoted his life to attacking America, goes from campus to campus without worrying about having so much as a pie thrown at him, something regularly done to conservative David Horowitz.

3. Whenever I have debated representatives of the Left before politically mixed audiences, I have been hissed and booed far more than my opponent was. Others who debate leftists report identical experiences. Why? Because in general, conservative members of the audience are more civil and less angry.

There are a few reasons for this discrepancy. One is that the more left one goes, the more one is likely to encounter people who substitute "social justice" for personal morality. Another is that in the eyes of most leftists, people who oppose their "progressive" views on the environment, the war and taxes are such morally inferior people that they are not owed decent behavior.

But the biggest reason is the most obvious one: Liberals hate conservatives far more than conservatives hate liberals...

The Barbarians Are Not Joking

Excellent overview article in the WSJ on the history, nature, and true intentions of Islam. Here is the conclusion:

Whether or not any such structure exists or can be forged, the fact is that the fuel of Islamic imperialism remains as volatile as ever, and is very far from having burned itself out. To deny its force is the height of folly, and to imagine that it can be appeased or deflected is to play into its hands. Only when it is defeated, and when the faith of Islam is no longer a tool of Islamic political ambition, will the inhabitants of Muslim lands, and the rest of the world, be able to look forward to a future less burdened by Saladins and their gory dreams.

Monday, April 03, 2006

United 93

Looks like there is finally, finally going to be a theatrical release dramatizing the events of 9/11. Ed Driscoll has an excellent post about the hysteria this is starting to cause among blue staters. Also, be sure to check out the trailer.

A Nice Piece Of Enemy Propaganda

Highlighted here. Outrageous. Also check out the comments.

Unspinning And Detriangulating

Excerpts from the latest Mark Steyn column:

The line here is "respect." Everybody's busy professing their "respect": We all "respect" Islam; presidents and prime ministers and foreign ministers, lapsing so routinely into the deep-respect-for-the-religion-of-peace routine they forget that cumulatively it begins to sound less like "Let's roll!" and too often like "Let's roll over!"

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, gave a typical Western government official's speech the other day explaining that "a large number of Muslims in this country were -- understandably -- upset by those cartoons being reprinted across Europe and at their deeply held beliefs being insulted. They expressed their hurt and outrage but did so in a way which epitomized the learned, peaceful religion of Islam."

"The learned, peaceful religion of Islam"? And that would be the guys marching through London with placards reading "BEHEAD THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM" and "FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS WESTERN TERRORISM" and promising to rain down a new Holocaust on Europe?


To win a war, you don't spin a war. Millions of ordinary citizens are not going to stick with a "long war" (as the administration now calls it) if they feel they're being dissembled to about its nature. One reason we regard Churchill as a great man is that his speeches about the nature of the enemy don't require unspinning or detriangulating.

If I had to propose a model for Western rhetoric, it would be the Australians...More recently, the prime minister offered some thoughts on the difference between Muslims and other immigrant groups. "You can't find any equivalent in Italian or Greek or Lebanese or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad," he said, stating the obvious in a way most political leaders can't quite bring themselves to do. "There is really not much point in pretending it doesn't exist."

Unfortunately, too many of his counterparts insist on pretending (at least to their citizenry) that it doesn't exist. What proportion of Western Muslims is hot for jihad? Five percent? Ten, 12 percent? Given that understanding this Pan-Islamist identity is critical to defeating it, why can't we acknowledge it honestly? "Raving on about jihad" is a line that meets what the law used to regard as the reasonable-man test: If you're watching news footage of a Muslim march promising to bring on the new Holocaust, John Howard's line fits.

Is it something in the water down there? Listen to Howard's Cabinet colleagues. Here's the Australian treasurer, Peter Costello, with advice for Western Muslims who want to live under Islamic law: "There are countries that apply religious or sharia law -- Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia."

You don't say. Which is the point: Most Western government leaders don't say, and their silence is correctly read by a resurgent Islam as timidity.


My worry is that the official platitudes in this new war are the equivalent of the Cold War chit-chat in its 1970s detente phase --when Willy Brandt and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter pretended the enemy was not what it was. Then came Ronald Reagan: It wasn't just the evil-empire stuff, his jokes were on the money, too. In their own depraved way, the Islamists are a lot goofier than the commies and a few gags wouldn't come amiss. If this is a "long war," it needs a rhetoric that can go the distance. And the present line fails that test.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

If Only Real CEO's Wrote Like This

Gerard Vanderleun defends Borders Corporation from its critics (who castigate it for not carrying an obscure magazine with the Mohammad cartoons on the cover).

The "open letter" starts like this:

An Open Letter from Gregory P Josefowicz CEO/Chairman of the Board/President/Director, Borders Books to Charles Johnson, Director, Pajamas Media, CEO Little Green Foosballs, Rock 'N' Roller in the Free World, Stealth Cyclist.

Dear Mr. Johnson (or may I call you "Charles"?),

The last time I read the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States it seemed pretty clear that the government of these states is ordained and established to "Provide for the common defense," not Borders Books.

Charles, I've got a book store to run and having you sic a bunch of bloggers on me and tell them to ride my ass because we're not shelving a pip-squeak magazine from those tools at the "Council for Secular Humanism" (Jesus wept!) is just not getting it done.

Don't get me wrong. In my 26 minutes of free time every day, I read and love Glenn, and Roger, and Allahpundit and The American Thinker and all the rest of you down to the roots of my remaining hair. I respect their courage and their dedication to principle. And then, finally, Charles, we come to you....

Now I like Little Green Footballs a lot, except for those Kos-o-vite trolls that keep spraying flecks of sputum all over your comments sections. But if you and your other blogomeisters think for one split nano-second that I'm going to stop being the CEO of Borders and take on the marching Muslim morons so that Western Civilization sleeps comfy in its free-speech security blanket, you've got one deflating green football on your hands. And I respectfully suggest you regroup.

Let me lay it out for you.

I run a bookstore. A book store. I run a big bookstore. I've got 34,000 people, real people, working for me every day in lots of places around the US and in other countries too. Those people owe Borders, every day, one good day's work. Borders owes the people who work for it a safe day's work. I've got stockholders too, but let's leave them aside for now, because as much as you may think so, this is not about money. (And yes I caught that business about the fact that we're trying to open stores in Arab and Muslim countries, but as you may have noticed every country these days contains an Arab and Muslim country.)

My bookstore is in a lot of places and it has, in employment and other matters, an open door policy. It advertises its address. It's not hard to find. You can Mapquest it. If you are lucky you can park your fully-loaded van or truck right next to it and set the timer. During business hours, all our employees are "home." Call me paranoid, but you don't get to be the CEO of a big corporation and not think about these things.

Like the United States itself, we're into "Open Borders." Like the United States, Borders lets anybody in. But we're not running some sort of NSA airport check-in deal at the door. You open our door and you walk in and somebody says "Welcome to Borders." You can come as you are and wear whatever you choose under that long and suspiciously large coat. We've no dress code when it comes to our customers. You can be locked and loaded in more ways than one because, hey, its a free country with a strong Second Amendment as well as a First.

Yes, we have security, but you may have noticed that they are not wearing body armor, carrying automatic weapons and patrolling the cookbook section in an up-armored Humvee. It's just not the Borders Way, bloggers. If you ever stopped filling up your cart with clicks at and visited a store, that's what you'd find...