Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Aw! Poor Boobies!

Ball State University (BSU) president Jo Ann M. Gora sent an email to all her faculty and students:
Dear Faculty and Staff,

This summer, the university has received significant media attention over the issue of teaching intelligent design in the science classroom. As we turn our attention to final preparations for a new academic year, I want to be clear about the university's position on the questions these stories have raised. Let me emphasize that my comments are focused on what is appropriate in a public university classroom, not on the personal beliefs of faculty members.

Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses. The gravity of this issue and the level of concern among scientists are demonstrated by more than 80 national and state scientific societies' independent statements that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science. The list includes societies such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society.

Discussions of intelligent design and creation science can have their place at Ball State in humanities or social science courses. However, even in such contexts, faculty must avoid endorsing one point of view over others. The American Academy of Religion draws this distinction most clearly:

Creation science and intelligent design represent worldviews that fall outside of the realm of science that is defined as (and limited to) a method of inquiry based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. Creation science, intelligent design, and other worldviews that focus on speculation regarding the origins of life represent another important and relevant form of human inquiry that is appropriately studied in literature and social science courses. Such study, however, must include a diversity of worldviews representing a variety of religious and philosophical perspectives and must avoid privileging one view as more legitimate than others.

Teaching religious ideas in a science course is clearly not appropriate. Each professor has the responsibility to assign course materials and teach content in a manner consistent with the course description, curriculum, and relevant discipline. We are compelled to do so not only by the ethics of academic integrity but also by the best standards of our disciplines.

As this coverage has unfolded, some have asked if teaching intelligent design in a science course is a matter of academic freedom. On this point, I want to be very clear. Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity. As I noted, the scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected intelligent design as a scientific theory. Therefore, it does not represent the best standards of the discipline as determined by the scholars of those disciplines. Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.

Courts that have considered intelligent design have concurred with the scientific community that it is a religious belief and not a scientific theory. As a public university, we have a constitutional obligation to maintain a clear separation between church and state. It is imperative that even when religious ideas are appropriately taught in humanities and social science courses, they must be discussed in comparison to each other, with no endorsement of one perspective over another.

These are extremely important issues. The trust and confidence of our students, the public, and the broader academic community are at stake. Our commitment to academic freedom is unflinching. However, it cannot be used as a shield to teach theories that have been rejected by the discipline under which a science course is taught. Our commitment to the best standards of each discipline being taught on this campus is equally unwavering. As I have said, this is an issue of academic integrity, not academic freedom. The best academic standards of the discipline must dictate course content.

Thank you for your attention to these important issues. Best wishes in your preparations for a new academic year. I look forward to seeing you at the fall convocation in just a few weeks. Sincerely,

Jo Ann M. Gora, PhD President
A fine strong statement.

Unsurprisingly, the Discoveryless Institute is less than pleased. When faced with adversity they naturally don't go back to the laboratory to support their "science," they do what they do best ... issue a press release.

It has all the hysteria we have come to expect from the PR hacks IDiots scientists at the DI, with phrases like "a blatant attack on academic freedom;" "extremist atheist group, the Freedom from Religion Foundation" and so forth.

But this from Stephen Meyer, considering his history, is precious:
Students and the public are owed a genuine evaluation of the merits of ID, touching as the theory does on ultimate questions of life's origins. However, when scientific discussion is censored by a university, fair-minded evaluation becomes impossible.
Of course, Dr. Gora said nothing of the sort. She said that, if something is to be included in a science course, given that there is only so such time and resources even at a university, it should first be considered science by the consensus of scientists. While there is room for brief mention of extremely minority views in any science course, a course devoted almost entirely to such minority views as ID belong in a science curricula exactly as much as the "science" invoked in favor of geocentricism.

What's more, Dr. Gora specifically said that "intelligent design and creation science can have their place at Ball State in humanities or social science courses" but that, of course, is not good enough for the DI, probably because Dr. Gora went on to say: "even in such contexts, faculty must avoid endorsing one point of view over others."

The last thing that the DI wants is actual academic rigor applied to the origins of life ... much less ID.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Working in the Quote Mines

The Sensuous Curmudgeon has uncovered a quote mine new to me.
Nearly 40 years later Ernst Mayr, Ph.D. of Harvard, an outstanding evolutionist, declared: "The fact that the evolutionary theory is now so universally accepted is no proof of its correctness … the basic theory is in many instances hardly more than a postulate."
In my (mostly self-appointed) role as keeper of the quote mines, here is some more information on this:

It comes from Mayr's Populations, Species and Evolution: An Abridgement of Animal Species and Evolution," p. 6, which can be found in Google Books.

As background, Mayr was discussing the time when, in the 1930s, "many dissenting theories were fused into a broad unified theory, the 'modern synthesis.'" He opines that the previous theories suffered from an attempt to explain evolution by "a single-factor theory," giving as examples Lamarck (internal self-improvement), Geoffroy (environmental induction of genetic change), Wagner (evolution by isolation), and De Vries (mutationalism). In addition to Darwinian natural selection, the synthesis included "concepts of mutation. variation, population, inheritance, isolation and species ..." According to Mayr (who not all scientists agree with) the main change was brought about by "[t]he replacement of typological thinking by population thinking."

Mayr goes on to write:
Recalling this history should make us cautious about the validity of our current beliefs. The fact that the synthetic theory is now nearly universally accepted is not itself proof of its correctness. It will serve as a warning to read with what scorn the mutationists (saltationists) in the first decade of this century attacked the contemporary naturalists for their belief in gradual changes and in the immense importance of the environment. ... [Emphasis added]
It is not until the following paragraph, that Mayr says:
The essentials of the modern theory [that is, the modern synthesis] are to such an extent consistent with the facts of genetics, systematics, and paleontology that one can hardly question their correctness. The basic framework of the theory is that evolution is a two-stage phenomenon: the production of variation and the sorting of the variants by natural selection. Yet agreement on this basic thesis does not mean that the work of the evolutionist is completed. The basic theory is in many instances hardly more than a postulate and its application raises numerous questions in almost every concrete case. [Emphasis added]
The quote miners are committing several sins here. First and foremost they are confusing the "modern synthesis," a theory about the mechanisms that cause evolution, with the fact of evolution (common descent). They even substituted [without any indication] "evolutionary theory" for "the synthetic theory" in the original. Mayr is in no way questioning the overwhelming evidence for common descent; he is only cautioning that our understanding of its mechanisms may change, as it has changed in the past.

Another sin is, as the Curmudgeon noted, that the ellipsis is hiding the stitching together of disparate thoughts ... a caution about falling too much in love with a theory about the mechanisms of evolution with another thought about the difficulty in applying any theory to particular, concrete, facts.

And then there is my particular bête noire: the nonexistent period. The quote miners put a period after "hardly more than a postulate" when, in fact, Mayr went on to say "and its application raises numerous questions in almost every concrete case." Not that the implication that the quote mine was a complete thought would have made any difference to their fellow creationists (thoughts, complete or otherwise, have nothing to do with them) but innocent passersby might, if they had been given the entire sentence or even an ellipsis, have had a glimmer of the quote miners' dishonesty.

The insertion of that period, when they are so otherwise free with ellipses, is what we lawyers call "evidence of the knowledge of guilt."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Worst ID Argument Ever?

Someone named Jerry Newcombe has an "Exclusive" article at WingNutDaily (which, as Ed Brayton often points out, means it is too crazy to find the light of day anywhere else), entitled "Explaining 'Darwin's Doubt."

Here's how he starts:
Every time I log into a computer and have to enter my password, I'm reminded of how impossible evolution is.

One little mistake on the keypad and I can't log in. There's even a website where I seem to be in permanent "log-in purgatory." I can't log in ever. Granted, it's operator error. But still …

How does this tie to evolution? Because if evolution were true, then we are to believe a whole series of complex sequences managed to get everything right – repeatedly.
Of course, to begin with, to buy this argument you have to assume that there is one and only one solution to your problem. And, yes, if you assume that there is only one way to have an eye or an immune system, it looks harder to get "from here to there." But we have evidence that there are multiple routes to such things. And if the "differential reproductive success" of many species depends on "finding" such disparate routes, then if some, by chance, do, then they will be the likely survivors. The ones that don't are likelier to become extinct, which some 98% of all species have done.

It is like Newcombe's ancestors achieving the highly improbable task of managing to "get everything right," in terms of having sex that resulted in children who lived long enough to, in turn, have children and so forth, for thousands (at least) years, ultimately resulting in an unbroken line of "improbable" events in order to unleash his ignorance upon an unsuspecting world.

But, once again, the ID unwashed just can't help letting the cat out of the bag:
Meyer adds, "It's just like in computer science. If you want to have a new function on your computer, you've got to have lots of code, lots of instruction. If you want to build these complex animal forms, we now know, you need information, you need instructions. And that's the crucial question that is really creating an impasse in evolutionary theory. Where does that information come from?"

Oh, I get it – "In the beginning was the Word …"
Yep, it's all about the Bible and creationism. Newcombe recognizes it. Science supporters recognize it. Heck, even the Discovery Institute recognizes it. The only thing is that the DI is dishonest enough to lie about it.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Holocaust Grifters & Shills

The Discovery [sic] Institute is showing its real colors again.

David Klinghoffer is accusing the Freedom from Religion Foundation of "a species of Holocaust denial -- a "lite" version, sure."

What is the FFRF's horrible crime? It has raised concerns that a Holocaust Memorial to be located on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse and, apparently, paid for by the State, includes a very prominent Star of David. However, FFRF has said that it has not decided to file a suit in that regard.

In all honesty, I don't think that prominently featuring a Star of David in connection with the Holocaust is a violation of the Separation of Church and State. But FFRF is quite correct to point out that the Nazis singled out many other groups for the "Final Solution." There were, in fact, dozens of badges for those condemned to the camps and any state sponsored memorial should explicitly honor those groups as well; not just with a generic statement that "millions more Soviets, Poles, Slavs and homosexuals" also died. Those millions deserve a voice, a presence, a real memorial, too. That done, there will be little grounds to object to a Star of David.

The FFRF is not a "rabid atheist group" and Jerry Coyne has no reason to be ashamed of them. They are a group that is dedicated to the enforcement of everyones' Constitutional right to be free from governmentally imposed religion.

It is the ID that has been rabid, to the point of lying outright, penning dishonest books and dissembling about its motives.

Projection is the DI's base state.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Pat Robertson, Progressive

Like it or not, if you read the Bible, in the Old Testament, slavery was permitted ... we have moved in our conception of the value of human beings over the years until we realized slavery was terribly wrong.
Hmmmm ... Here's Pat again:

I was reading today ... I happened to be reading Leviticus and there is a list of sexual sins and it has to do with sex with an animal ... it has to do with adultery ... it has to do with other types of sexual misconduct ... incest, etc. And it also has to do with homosexuality ... it's an offense ... it's an abomination for a man to lie with a man as with a woman, that's what it says, and those who do that in the Old Testament were stoned to death. Now, God goes on to say, that nations who were doing these things were vomited out of the lands, that the land was upset by it and the land vomited them out. ...

For some reason now the Supreme Court has said homosexuality is now a constitutional right ... homosexual marriage ... this decision that was handed down recently by the majority glorifies this activity and talks about the civil rights and all this, well the Bible didn't talk about civil rights it talked about this was an offense against God and it was an offense against the land and the land would vomit you out. ...

Which is going to take precedence? The Supreme Court of the United States or the holy word of God?
In the Old Testament they also stoned adulterers and those who committed incest but we haven't been doing that in the US much lately. And a hint, Pat, when it comes to the law of the United States, the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, takes precedent.

The Bible didn't talk about the civil rights of slaves either, though we've moved beyond that, right Pat? But it's been 145 years since the 14th Amendment and I guess it will take Pat and his ilk a while to catch up to the change in our conception of the value of LGBT human beings.

When they finally do, conservative Christians will be telling everyone how they led the fight for marriage equality, just the way they tell us now how it was the church that led the fight against slavery.

Friday, July 19, 2013



The Muncie Star Press has a story on Ball State's hire of Guillermo Gonzalez.

Gonzalez says that he plans to continue his research on astrobiology and stellar astrophysics but will not be discussing intelligent design in the classroom.

The article has a fairly balanced account of Gonzalez' misadventures at Iowa State University. Of course, Gonzalez is still claiming that he was "Expelled," when, in fact, he failed to measure up to his peers.

Be that as it may, what interests me is this bit of chutzpah:
The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based intelligent design think tank where Gonzalez is a senior fellow, loathes the use of the term "intelligent design creationism." John West, vice president of the institute, told The Star Press, "In ordinary usage, creationism implies ideas like a young earth and Biblical literalism, and intelligent design definitely does not involve that."

He claims the term was invented by critics of intelligent design because they want to confuse people about what intelligent design actually proposes.

"Using 'intelligent design creationism' as a supposedly neutral label is like using 'pro-abortion' as a neutral label of people who label themselves pro-choice," West said.

These are the same people who call the vast majority of scientists "Darwinists" and blame "Darwinism" for every bad thing since 1859, including Nazism, Communism, Stalinism, Pol Pot and everything else they can imagine.

On the other hand, they try to limit "creationism" to young-Earth creationism based on Biblical literalism. Of course, Judge Jones, a conservative Republican, was able to see through that ploy.

And then West lets the latest cat out of the bag when he says that the concepts Gonzalez focuses on in his papers are things like "the Galactic Habitable Zone, fine-tuning, and the number of factors required to make life possible." All are ID "talking points." So, he won't be discussing intelligent design in the classroom but what do you want to bet he will be discussing the "controversy"?

Fasten your seatbelt, Ball State. You're in for a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


But, But ... It's Everybody's! ... Who Count, Anyway!

Wyoming County, West Virginia had some vandals sneak up on them.
A few weeks ago, Bill Lewis, a local pastor, and a few others approached the commission about a [Ten Commandments] monument. There was a discussion, but no action was taken by the commission, according to the commissioners.

Then, on June 28, the group was erecting the monument on the [Wyoming County Courthouse] lawn.
Uh, oh! Blindsided!

The locals have not quite gotten the patter down, however:
"There is no such thing as separation of church and state in our government," [county commissioner] Silas Mullins said.

"That phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter, in 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Church," he added. "There is no law against this.
They might want to ask the taxpayers of Pulaski and McCreary counties in Kentucky about that.
"We've had lawyers from other states offering to fight this for us — if it comes to that — at no cost.
What do you want to bet that those lawyers from other states are Mat Staver and his merry band of incompetents from Liberty Counsel who got Pulaski and McCreary counties in such trouble?
"I think it's time that we stopped allowing one person to dictate to the majority," Silas Mullins emphasized. "What about our civil rights?"

He noted that about 70 percent of the residents of Wyoming County are born-again Christians, and the vast majority of the remaining 30 percent do believe in God.
Because, of course, it is your civil right to use government to impose your beliefs on others, as long as you are in the majority. And anyone not in the majority just has to accept their tax money being used to proselytize the majority's religious beliefs. Somehow, I don't think they quite get this whole "Bill of Rights" thingie.

And that doesn't even cover the fact that they are using a version of the Ten Commandments different than the one used by Jews, Catholics and Lutherans.

A local attorney/prosecutor, Michael Cochrane, says:
"I researched different religions as far as whether the Ten Commandments is discriminatory or not," Cochrane said. "Basically a type of Ten Commandments is cut across a lot of religions."

The Ten Commandments have origins in Judaism and parallel scriptures appear in Islamic texts, he said.
Well, as long as the "big three" agree, who needs to worry about Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, Native American spiritualists and all the other varieties of religious beliefs ... not to mention agnostics and atheists.

The ACLU, if it can find someone to be the plaintiff, will soon be on a fishing expedition ... in a very small barrel.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


One Way to Start a Movement

William Owens, of the National Organization for Marriage, is out to start a movement:
You think we did something during the Civil Rights Movement? This is our Civil Rights Movement…. We are going to fight to the end, we are not going to give up, we are going to fight like we fought to get civil rights, like we marched for miles and miles and miles, we took the heat, whatever it took, we are going to stand for the family.
Because, of course, the Civil Rights Movement was all about protecting "traditional" race relations against the radical liberal agenda.


Best Democratic Party Operative Ever?

A while back, Phyllis Schlafly counseled the Republican Party to ignore Latinos and, instead, reach out to "the white voters who didn't vote in the last election." As Steve Benen pointed out back then, it is hard to imagine how the Republicans can do any better at winning the white vote or be any whiter.

Heck, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the Great Latino Hope of the Republican Party, has had double-digit drops in his net favorability rating among Republicans since he dared to suggest a bipartisan fix to our immigration law. Latino voters will, no doubt, take notice.

Now Schlafly is back "explaining" that Latinos don't "have any Republican inclinations at all" because "they're running an illegitimacy rate that's just about the same as the blacks are" and that they:
... come from a country where they have no experience with limited government. And the types of rights we have in the Bill of Rights, they don't understand that at all, you can't even talk to them about what the Republican principle is.
The Democratic Party should declare Schlafly a National Treasure.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Where Have All the Young Brides Gone?

This is more in Ed Bayton's remit but I could not resist.

Via People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch comes word of the assertion by Jennifer Thieme, of the National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute, that, in states that recognize same-sex marriages, "no woman gets to be a bride and no man gets to be a groom."

Boy, is Vera Wang going to be surprised!

Thieme is actually complaining about the position of some Libertarians that the government should 'get out of marriage.' But she can't help but bring the crazy:
First, I do not think it is realistic to believe the government will actually get out of marriage, especially once the definition of marriage becomes sexless (genderless) as a widespread policy. Sexless marriage as a policy is what must happen in order to allow gay couples to marry. It wasn't fair that only straight women could be brides, and only straight men could be grooms. So now no woman gets to be a bride, and no man gets to be a groom in same sex marriage states.
Say what?

Does anyone need the imprimatur of the government to be a bride or groom? In any case, as one of the commentors to her article points out, states that allow same sex marriages generally allow marriage license applicants to describe themselves as "bride," groom," or "spouse."

But fasten your seat belts and try not to get whiplash ... her next sentence is:
The state will not likely give up the increased power it gets over individuals, children, and the church as this change gains traction.
Whiskey ... Tango ... Foxtrot?

Allowing same sex marriage gives the government increased power over individuals, children, and the church? How, exactly? Thieme leaves that part out because it is bullhockey.

Then she asks "How does gay marriage affect YOUR marriage?"

What would a wingnut screed be without a vague and unverifiable anecdote?
I've encountered honest, far-left leaning Democrats who admit that sexless marriage is the destruction of traditional marriage. They admit it, point blank. One even likened it to slavery. This is not how it gets marketed to voters. Voters are told that marriage is simply being expanded to include gay couples. Expanding marriage vs. eliminating traditional marriage are two very different things.
Of course, to Thieme, anyone left of Attila the Hun is "far-left." But the interesting thing is that even this supposed anecdote lacks any explanation of just how same sex marriage results in the destruction of traditional marriage.

Why, it's almost like they have no such explanation!

Monday, July 08, 2013


Stupid Springs Eternal

... or so it seems in Springsboro, Ohio.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State's blog Wall of Separation has reported the latest twist in the farce that is the Springsboro School Board.

As I previously pointed out, the school board has twice flirted with injecting creationism into its public schools. They have twice backed down, at least temporarily, though I get the feeling that they are hoping that the local parents, who have been pretty vocal in their opposition, will tire of watching the board and it can sneak it's agenda in.

They also proposed using school facilities (free of charge, though other outside groups are charged a fee) to allow Christian groups associated neo-Confederate racist groups to teach courses in their views on the Constitution that, to say the least, are hardly compatible with mainstream constitutional scholarship.

Again the local community is up in arms and, again, the board has backed down, even if it is only so it can more easily hide in the weeds.

Friday, July 05, 2013


Said Before ... They Know Their Own

Christian News, in an article entitled "Creation Group Alleges University 'Deliberately Stacked' Investigation Against Christian Professor" says:
This week, an influential creation organization delivered a petition to Ball State University officials, urging them to protect the academic freedoms of a controversial science professor out of fears that an investigation into the teacher was "deliberately stacked" against him.
And who is that "creation organization"? Why, the Discovery Institute, of course!

We on the side of science have been saying this for years.

But so have been the faithful.

The only people who keep denying the obvious are the DI.

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The Ultimate Mumpsimus

Via James McGrath comes a word new to me (ain't learning grand?). On the other hand, the word means, approximately, someone who refuses to learn.

And who can exemplify a refusal to learn better than the BananaMan himself, Ray Comfort?

There was the amusing incident where PZ Myers tried to educate him and he almost got a glimmer of what science has shown but then the ol' mumpsimus closed in again.

Of course, Comfort is going to perpetrate yet another, perhaps more spectacular, example of the term. Comfort is about to release a "movie" entitled Evolution vs. God. For reasons not entirely clear to me, PZ and a number of other scientists allowed themselves to be "interviewed" by Comfort. PZ has posted about it here and here.

As PZ says:
He started by asking me for evidence of evolution. I tried to explain the evidence for speciation in sticklebacks, but he asked if they were still fish, and when I said they were, he said that didn't count because they didn't become a different "kind", like a dog becoming a cat. So I told him that doesn't happen in a single lifetime, and that carnivores diverged over 60 million years ago. I suggested he look at fossils, but he rejected that, because he wanted "observable" evidence, and anything that happened millions of years ago isn't observable. So I said it was, too — fossils and molecular evidence are observable.

So the usual creationist run-around, where he defines what evidence he'd find acceptable by rejecting historical evidence as nonexistent, and contemporary evidence as too trivial.
Maybe "mumpsimus" is too polite and we should just go with "idiot" instead.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


Just for the Heck of It

In my humble opinion, Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill" may be the greatest poem in the English language. Here it is:
Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.



The Lessons of Egypt

I won't pretend to have profound insights into what is going on in Egypt. But I think what went wrong was that they failed to have a complete structure for what is called [sometimes laughingly] a "democracy."

Lord knows, we in the US have no right to lecture anyone else about how to get it right. After all, it's been only a week or two since we have begun, under our constitutional structure, to recognize the full rights of people who are gay. We have a long way to go to have a society that fully recognizes everyone, including LGBT people, as human beings with equal rights to everyone else. It's only taken us a mere 250 years or so to get this far.

What we did have was the concept of a structure of how to go about building a democratic form of government. That's not to say that it leapt, like Athena, from the forehead of any god, but it came first by crippling the ability of any one person or any one group of persons to seize the reins of power, by splitting up government into three [more or less] equal institutions. Shortly thereafter we created the Bill of Rights, the sole purpose of which was to protect each and every minority from the "Tyranny of the Majority." Not that it worked originally, as our bloody Civil War demonstrated. And there are no dearth today of advocates, like Justice Scalia, of the right of the majority to impose their bigotry on anyone and everyone.

I suspected that things in Egypt would not turn out well when the Islamists rode roughshod over their opponents during the writing of the constitution. Of course, you can't have anything resembling a democracy in Egypt unless the Islamists are represented, perhaps as the majority. But when the very form of government favors one group over another, you are bound to have trouble.

Egypt was an incipient democracy that failed. Whether the Army was right to step in or, more importantly, whether its intervention will turn out well, is still to be seen.

I only hope that all the people of Egypt wind up better from whatever eventuates.


Happy Fourth of July

It's time for fireworks, barbecues and for the Discovery [sic] Institute to try to enlist Thomas Jefferson as an Intelligent Design advocate.

This time, it is the ever ridiculous David Klinghoffer. Amusingly, Klinghoffer reveals the real purpose of ID right at the outset:
The Huffington Post pleasantly surprised us today with an excellent piece on the necessary role of faith in public life, by James Robison and Discovery Institute's Jay Richards.
Yeah, they want to make faith part of science too.

Of course, there is a lot wrong with that article but that's another post.

Klinghoffer just dredges up the same old quotemine.

But, hey, if they had anything new, they wouldn't still be channeling William Paley, would they?

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