July 2004 Archives

Amendment will protect us from judicial tyranny (Use Bugmenot if you don’t have an account.)

I am writing in regard to the U.S. Senate’s recent decision to stop discussion of a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The Senate’s decision to end discussion of a proposed amendment to protect marriage was disappointing but hardly surprising.

This is the same bunch that couldn’t muster the moral courage to convict President Clinton when he was impeached by the House.

I, too, am generally opposed to tampering with the Constitution and would agree that most such matters are best left to state and local governments. We’ve developed a society that is far too dependent upon the federal government to address issues.

The problem is the courts have effectively stifled the democratic process. Local and state statutes are not standing because these federal courts have usurped the authority of the electorate. Unless we can manage to impeach activist judges and Supreme Court justices and return to strict constructionism as the mode of interpretation and application of our founding documents, amending the Constitution may be our only recourse.

An amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman would effectively ban homosexual marriage, bigamy or polygamy, group marriage, incestuous marriage and interspecies marriage by positively protecting the home as the basic unit of society rather than by negative prohibition of activity.

At this point in our history, it looks like such an amendment may be the only solution to protect us from the tyranny-of-the-few through the federal judiciary.

Rev. Paul W. Downey, DBS, Ph.D.

Rev. Paul W. Downey is concerned that the US Senate defeated the constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Apparently, he is so concerned about what other adults do with their lives, i.e. butt-sex, that problems with the amendment over states’ rights, religious freedom, and equal protection do not bother him. The amendment was extremely flawed and went against just about every constitutional tradition that we have.

Downey is clearly totally ignorant about the actual decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Vermont, yet he feels fit to criticize them anyway. For instance, they were purely state issues; the federal judiciary played no part in them. Therefore, his complaints about federal judges do not follow, and in fact are extremely ignorant. Furthermore, these were not the decisions of activist judges, but of judges willing to uphold state constitutional protections for unpopular people.

The irony of Downey’s letter is that strict constitutionism favors an independent judiciary that protects minorities from the tyranny of the majority. He is not a strict contitutionalist. (In fact, I doubt he’s ever read one.) He is just a whiny, ignorant, theocratic bigot afraid of butt-sex.

Sikh student detained by Secret Service

So you can be detained for five to seven hours simply because you are taking pictures of a public building. Oh, wait, you also have to be brown and look like “one of dem foriners.” The real terrorists here are the racists in law enforcement who feel that people with brown skin are minutes from blow up something.

Stupid Statistics, Second Pass

Yesterday I sent the following letter to The Regional Economist about the stupid article, “Fear of Hell Might Fire Up the Economy.”

The analysis of the data in the article is flawed. No significance values are attached to the reported correlations. It is obvious from the chart of belief in hell versus corruption that the values are not well correlated. A Monte Carlo analysis confirms this. The 95% confidence interval of these rankings is approximately -0.34 to -.33. This means that the observed value, -0.34, is just barely not significant. An analysis not reported in the paper, correlation between belief in hell and per capita, results in a value of 0.15 which is clearly not significant.

Going further, a comparison of the raw data reported in the article finds that per capita and percent belief in hell are actually negatively correlated at -0.21. Doing another Monte Carlo analysis finds that this is close to what we expect if the two were independent of one another. The average is -0.22, and the 95% confidence interval is -0.59 to 0.19.

Clearly the reported correlations between belief in hell and corruption and belief in hell and per capita are not significant, which means that any attempt to conclude association between them is flawed. I hope it was not the intention of the authors to mislead their readers.

Well the article has now been changed (again), and all the original work, looking at corruption levels, has been removed. From the editorial note that now appears:

Thanks to the keen eyes of a number of readers, however, we have discovered that the charts used in both of these versions of the article contained errors. Consequently, the version below does not include discussions of the correlations between religiosity, corruption and per capita income.

It was not the charts that contained errors; it was their entire methodology. Garbage in, garbage out. Continuing,

It is important to note that this has no bearing on the results in the literature that are discussed in the article. It is not uncommon, for example, for simple correlations between two variables to provide different answers from regressions that control for a longer list of variables.

I’ve briefly looked at the Barro and McCleary paper, and I have to say that I am not impressed with their results. They do a complicated analysis of multiple factors, which reveals that “fear of hell” is slightly positively related with economics, after other effects have been removed. In other words, “fear of hell” might influence economies, but it is not a major factor. The regression that they find in their most detailed model is minor, 0.0174, with a standard error of 0.0083. This means that the “95% confidence interval” gets very close to zero. I think that this paper needs a Monte Carlo analysis where the initial data is randomly resorted based on a reasonable model and then reanalysized. I feel that this is an excellent way to see if the regressions are significantly different from zero.

In the news today, economists at the federal reserve say “belief in hell boasts growth”.

Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve (news - web sites) Bank of St. Louis.

Turning to the actual report, should make anyone with any training in statistical analysis pound their heads against the wall. First rule, correlation is not causation. But what about their correlation?

Yeap that is the graph that they use to show the negative correlation between fear of hell and corruption. Powerful isn’t it. Notice what is missing? There is no significance placed on the correlation. Since they provide their data in Excel format, I decided to use PopTools to do a Monte Carlo analysis of their data.

Simply put, I randomized the relationship between fear-of-hell and corruption rankings and calculated a correlation coeficient for the random data. I did this ten thousand times and used this to determine if the observed data was significantly negative. It was not. A random sample of 10000 replicates produced a 95% confidence interval of -.34 to .33. This means that the observed correlation, -.34, is just barely not significant.

There are many methdological problems with the paper, but their own data don’t support the conclusion that the authors want to make.

Update

The actual claim is that belief in hell means that you are more prosperous. However, the paper does not even report the correlation for GDP and belief in hell. This is because it is 0.15, which is not even close to being borderline significant.

It gets even better. If you calculate a correlation between their raw data and not the rankings, you get a negative correlation (-0.21) between per capita and belief in hell. This exactly contradictory with claims made in the paper. In fact, based on additional Monte Carlo analysis, this correlation is approximately what you would expect if per capita and belief in hell were independent of one another: average -0.22, lower cl -0.59, upper cl 0.19.

I feel that these authors are knowingly being dishonest with their data.

Down Time

Sorry about the down time. I run this blog off of my workstation in the lab, which because it is the most powerful computer, I allow a few people to run simulations on it. Sometimes this causes it to freeze up, which I can’t correct when I’m home.

The GADOE has released the approved standards for science. Although the biology standards are considerably better then the first draft, they have not been approved upon since the last draft. There are a few errors in the high-school standards and several important omissions. Here are the suggestions I made to the curriculim leader a few months ago, but they were apparantly declined.

  • Add content to SB2: “Describe the interaction of genes and the environment to produce traits.” Students need to know that phenotypes are caused by gene-by-environment interactions. Skin color in humans is probably the easiest example.
  • Retitle section SB5 to “Students will evaluate the development of evolutionary theory.” Students need to know that there are evolutionary forces other than selection, thus the section needs to be retitled due to the changes to the content.
  • Change content SB5.a to “Trace the history of the theory from Lamarck, to Darwin and Wallace, and to the modern synthesis.” A little more context is needed to ensure that the right span of history is covered.
  • Change content SB5.c to “Explain how morphological, fossil, and biochemical evidence supports the theory.” Comparative morphological evidence from extant species is also important evidence for evolution.
  • Change content SB5.d to “Relate mutation, natural selection, drift, gene flow, and inbreeding to changes in populations.” There are more evolutionary forces than natural selection. Also populations evolve, not individuals, so “organisms” needs to be replaced by “populations.”
  • Add content to SB5: “Explain how geographic isolation can lead to speciation.” Students need to know at least the basics of speciation.
  • Change content SCSh3.a to “Suggest reasonable and testable (e.g. falsifiable) hypotheses for identified problems.” Students need to know that hypotheses need to be testable. The major criterion for testability is falsifiability, i.e. if the hypothesis is actually false, then it can be demonstrated as such though potential experiments or observations.
  • Add content to SCSh7: “Mathematics and statistics are used to model natural phenomenon and thus have a vital role in the scientific process.” Students need to know that mathematics and its kin are invaluable to science. I know of way too many science majors and even graduate students that fail to appreciate this. One reason that scientists from India and China can successfully compete with American scientists is that they often understand this more than we do.
  • Change content SCSh8.d to “The merit of a new theory is judged by how well scientific data are explained by the new theory, its predictive value of readily observable phenomena, and its ability to generate new areas of research.” The utility of theories is not just for explaining current data but also accounting for new data, and stimulating new areas of inquiry.

Sadly failure to address these suggestions means that we will not have a world class curriculim.

Carter Again

Jimmy Carter

I just saw Jimmy Carter speak at the DNC … right on!

Brayton 3 - Meyer 0

Ed Brayton has a wonderful smack-down of Intellectual (sic) Conservative’s Robert Meyer. All Brayton points out is that Meyer bore false witness on Stephen J. Gould. He even links to Gould’s own words that demonstrate as such. However, Meyer in a wonderful showing of ignorance doesn’t get it. Meyer offers one intellectual train-wreck after another. Hmm, maybe that is what Intellectual (sic) Conservative should change its name to.

Speaking of Intellectual Train-Wreck, here are their links to “the evolution debate.” ‘Nough said.

“Terror” part 2

There are two intersting developments in the saga of Northwest flight 327.

Air Marshals say Passenger Overreacted

Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS. The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service. Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women. “The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”

Infamous Syrian musicians performed at Sycuan casino

A band of Syrians who stoked terror fears en route to Southern California apparently answer to a guy who looks like Wayne Newton – not Osama bin Laden, as some had feared.

The mysterious Syrians, whose in-flight act prompted fears among passengers between Detroit and Los Angeles, turned out to be simply a band on the run to an Arabic music show at Sycuan Resort and Casino near San Diego, according to new accounts of the long, strange trip.

Mehana’s Sycuan show was listed on booking agent James Cullen’s Web site. But Cullen, who produced the event, wouldn’t confirm the gig.

“Sorry, we were told by Homeland Security not to talk to the press,” Cullen said via e-mail.

Tour de France

I’ve been watching the Tour de France these last few days, and it is extremely enjoyable. The finish of todays race was amazing. Lance Armstrong is dominating. If you want something to do, turn on OLN and watch the race live or on the replays.

Terror in skies?

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A lot is being made in conservative, xenophobic circles about the racist piece, Terror in the Skies, Again? and its follow up. (Yes, despite protests by the author, these pieces are swimming in racism and bigotry.) For those people out there convinced that this was a “dry run,” I have one request to make.

Show me the evidence! Did you miss that? Show me the evidence!

Jacobson doesn’t provide any. All she has is “I was scared of 14 Syrians who knew one another on a flight from Detroit.” That is it. No evidence that they are connected to a terror network. No evidence that they were not the band that they claimed to be. No evidence that they had faulty documentation. No evidence that they had any reason to wish hate upon our country. No evidence at all. Fear is not evidence. I’m afraid that I’m going to answer the phone and learn that a family member has died, but that doesn’t mean that a family member has died.

The fact that they were interrogated by law enforcement and cleared doesn’t apparently matter to this woman. Let’s see, the opinion of a woman who sat whimpering in her seat versus the opinion of law enforcement who actually talked to the people. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to determine who is more credible.

Despite her protests, ethnic profiling is bigoted. Its bigoted because despite the crimes perpetrated by white people, profiling is never argued against them. When a couple of white people from the heartland blew up a federal building killing nearly 200 people, we never heard a peep about how white men should be profiled. When a group of mostly Saudi Arabians attack the US, we don’t hear how Saudi Arabians should be watched, but how Arabs or Muslims should be watched. There is no logic behind it, just fear.

Fear is why we are in this mess to begin with.

Democrats on Education

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The Democratic platform is out. I looked for the Republican Platform, but it isn’t out yet. The closest GOP thing I can find is The President’s Agenda.

Here is what the Democrats say about Education. I’ve bolded my two favorite parts.

IMPROVING EDUCATION

The simple bargain at the heart of the American Dream offers opportunity to every American who takes the responsibility to make the most of it. That bargain is the great source of American strength, because it unleashes the amazing talent and determination of our people. And as our people seize the opportunity to build a better life, they build a stronger country. Today, our people compete with workers on every continent. Information flows across oceans. High-wage jobs are more dependent than ever on high-level skills. Now, as never before, education is the key to opportunity, essential to a strong America. So we believe in an America that offers the best education to all our children – wherever they live, whatever their background. Period.

We believe in an America where every child comes to school ready to learn. Where every student is held to high standards, and every school has the resources and responsibility to meet those standards. Where every classroom has a great teacher, and every student gets enough personal attention to foster a talent or overcome a difficulty. We believe in an America where every teenager completes a rigorous high school curriculum. Where every qualified young person who wants to go to college can afford it. And where every adult who needs additional job training can get it.

In President George Bush’s America, our government ignores the shameful truth that the quality of a child’s education depends on the wealth of that child’s neighborhood. Our best public schools are the best schools in the world, but too many children go to schools that just don’t work. Too many children who beat the odds and succeed in school can’t afford to go on to college. And too many adults who need added training aren’t able to get it. For this White House, education is an easy promise – easy come, and easy go. When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, he said the right things – asking more from our schools and pledging to give them the resources to get the job done. And then he promptly broke his word, providing schools $27 billion less than he had promised, literally leaving millions of children behind.

The President also gets a failing grade for higher education. Over the last three years, college tuitions have risen by 35 percent, pricing 220,000 students out of college. Yet while then-Governor Bush promised to increase college aid, President Bush tried to charge more for student loans and eliminate Pell Grants for 84,000 students. John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democratic Party believe that a strong America begins at home with strong families, and that strong families need the best schools. We believe schools must teach fundamental skills like math and science, and fundamental values like citizenship and responsibility. We believe providing resources without reform is a waste of money, and reform without resources is a waste of time. And we believe politicians who expect students to learn responsibility should start by keeping their own promises.

Meeting our responsibilities. Under John Kerry and John Edwards, we will offer high quality early learning opportunities, smaller classes, more after school activities, and more individualized attention for our students, particularly students with special needs, gifts, and talents. The federal government will meet its financial obligations for elementary and secondary education and for special education.

A great teacher in every classroom. Continuing the fight for reform, we will make an intensive effort to put a great teacher in every classroom. Nothing has a bigger impact than a teacher on the quality of a child’s education. We need to do more to attract and retain teachers, more to encourage their excellence, and more to ensure that all teachers are offering high-quality teaching. We must raise pay for teachers, especially in the schools and subjects where great teachers are in the shortest supply. We must improve mentoring, professional development, and new technology training for teachers, instead of leaving them to sink or swim. At the same time, we must create rigorous new incentives and tests for new teachers. We need new rewards for teachers who go the extra mile and excel in helping children learn. And teachers deserve due process protection from arbitrary dismissal, but we must have fast, fair procedures for improving or removing teachers who do not perform on the job.

Parents are our children’s first and most important teachers, and they have a responsibility to participate in their children’s education. We will help them do so by offering information and resources to better teach their children, whether reminding them about homework or attending a parent-teacher conference.

Securing high achievement for all. Vast achievement gaps persist in America. Nearly half of African-American, Latino, and American Indian youth don’t graduate high school. We believe in the potential of every child and we will not accept this loss of talent. Because education in the earliest years of a child’s life is critical, we will expand and improve preschool and Head Start initiatives with the goal of offering these opportunities to all children. Because children need safe, loving, and disciplined homes in order to learn, we will work on a bipartisan basis to reform foster care. And we will undertake a national campaign to raise graduation rates by raising student achievement, expecting more from schools, reaching out to troubled youth with mentoring and tutoring, and strengthening the basic high school curriculum. We will meet these challenges together—parents, teachers, principals, educational support professionals and paraprofessionals, along with universities, community-based and faith-based organizations.

Making schools work for children. We will use testing to advance real learning, not undermine it, by developing high-quality assessments that measure the complex skills students need to develop. We will make sure that federal law operates with high standards and common sense, not just bureaucratic rigidity. Instead of pushing private school vouchers that funnel scarce dollars away from the public schools, we will support public school choice, including charter schools and magnet schools that meet the same high standards as other schools. And at a time when so many schools charged with our future are relics of the past, we will build new schools and offer the technology and equipment for a 21st century education.

Making college affordable. With the leadership of John Kerry and John Edwards, we will make college more affordable, so that more young people get higher education, and more of those who graduate get relief from the crushing burden of debt. We will make student aid faster and simpler to get so students aren’t scared off by the complicated process. We will offer generous tax credits to reduce the price of four years of college for all students, including those who pay their own way and can least afford college now. We will strengthen our aid programs for students while eliminating wasteful subsidies for lenders. At a time when all good jobs increasingly depend on advanced skills, we will strengthen technical training for those who do not attend college. Finally, we must place a special emphasis on expanding achievement in math and science. These are subjects where America has always led the world and must continue to lead in the 21st century.

Teaching good citizenship and good values. We must remain committed to the moral and civic dimensions of education. Education requires the engagement of the whole community in order to teach the whole child. Students should learn responsibility in our schools, and students who are irresponsible—using drugs or bringing violence into schools—must face strict discipline. We should support character education in our elementary and secondary schools and community service as a condition of graduation from high schools. We should also give back to those who give to America, in the tradition of the G.I. Bill and AmeriCorps.

The promise of America is the promise of opportunity. If we are going to keep that promise, every child should have a great teacher and every high school graduate should have the chance to go to college. Nothing less is good enough for America.

For contrast here is Bush’s Agenda on education.

I want to address a specific claim in the previous email:

Four years later [in 1995], having inherited Heinz’s $500 million fortune, she married Senator John Forbes Kerry, the liberal then-junior senator from Massachusetts. She became a registered Democrat and the process of her radicalization was set in motion.

Heinz Kerry did not become a Democrat until after the 2002 elections. According to her, she switched parties because she was angry over how Republicans treated Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia during the election.

Teresa Heinz Kerry says anger, not ideology, prompted her to become a Democrat.

The wife of Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, says her emotion stemmed from the way the Republican Party, to which she had pledged allegiance, treated Democratic Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia in 2002. …

“Three limbs and all I could think was, ‘What does the Republican party need, a fourth limb to make a person a hero?’ And this coming from people who have not served. I was really offended by that. Unscrupulous and disgusting,” she said, her reference being an indirect one to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

(AP)

I can’t say that I don’t agree with the lady. Republicans like to say that the Democrats are soft on national defense because Democrats tend to be more cautious when it comes to war. There is a reason for that. The Democrats in DC tend to have actually served our country. Republicans on the other hand, tend to have found ways to avoid serving. I think that the Republican Party actually has an inferiority complex about their lack of military experience and compensate for it by being as pro war as they can be. The Democratic Party, on the otherhand, actually knows the full cost of war and is more cautious and careful about it. It is one thing to be patriotic. Its another thing to show your “patriotism” by sending our young men and women to die so you can feel better about getting a deferment fourty years ago.

This is not to say that people who did not serve our country are lesser Americans or lesser politicians. This is just to criticise those who skipped the service for being critical of the patriotism of those who did not.

I will end on the best excuse for being a chicken-hawk. It comes from Tom Delay, the House Majority leader.

He and Quayle, DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself. Satisfied with the pronouncement, which dumbfounded more than a few of his listeners who had lived the sixties, DeLay marched off to the convention.

This is the same idiot who blamed the Columbine school tragedy on evolution–“Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud.”–and criticized Texas A&M and Baylor (a school which expelled him for dancing) for being liberal teachers of evolution.

Forwards

I got the “Mrs. Kerry” [sic] email today. For those of you who haven’t encountered it, it reads.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think you should read this so you will be informed.

Following is a brief background on Mrs. John Kerry. She hates being called that, by the way: Maria Teresa Thiersten Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry. Married Senator Kerry in 1995. She only took his name eighteen months ago and she is an “interesting” paradox of conflicts.

If you thought John Kerry was scary, he doesn’t hold a candle to his wife! Maria Teresa Thiersten Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry was born in Mozambique, the daughter of a Portuguese physician, was educated in Switzerland and South Africa. Fluent in five languages, she was working as a United Nations interpreter in Geneva in the mid-60’s when she met a “handsome” young American, H. John Heinz, III, who worked at a bank in Geneva. He told her his family was “in the food business.”

They were married in 1966 and returned to Pittsburgh where his family ran the giant H. J. Heinz food company. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1971, and in 1976 he was elected to the first of three terms in the United States Senate. A Republican, he wrote a burning diatribe against some of the causes backed by young House member John Kerry.

Several years later, in 1991, he was killed when his plane collided with a Sun Oil Company helicopter over a Philadelphia suburb. The senator, his pilot and copilot, and both of Sun’s helicopter pilots were killed. He was survived by his wife, Teresa, and their three young sons.

Four years later, having inherited Heinz’s $500 million fortune, she married Senator John Forbes Kerry, the liberal then-junior senator from Massachusetts. She became a registered Democrat and the process of her radicalization was set in motion.

Heinz Kerry is not shy about telling people that she required Kerry to sign a prenuptial agreement before they were married. John Kerry may not have check writing privileges on the Heinz catsup and pickle fortune, but he is certainly a willing and uncomplaining beneficiary of it.

A lot of hard-earned money, made through many years of hawking catsup, mustard, and pickles has fallen into the hands of two people who despise successful entrepreneurship and who believe in the confiscatory redistribution of wealth.

So how does Mrs. Heinz Kerry spend John Heinz’s money?

Just one example: According to the G2 Bulletin, an online intelligence newsletter of World Net Daily, in the years between 1995-2001 she gave more than $4 million to an organization called the Tides Foundation. And what does the Tides Foundation do with John Heinz’s money?

They support numerous antiwar groups, including Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center. Clark has offered to defend Saddam Hussein when he’s tried.

They support the Democratic Justice Fund, a joint venture of the Tides Foundation and billionaire hate-monger George Soros. The Democratic Justice Fund seeks to ease restrictions on Muslim immigration from “terrorist” states.

They support the Council for American-Islamic Relations, whose leaders are known to have close ties to the terrorist group, Hamas.

They support the National Lawyers Guild, organized as a communist front during the Cold War era. One of their attorneys, Lynne Stewart, has been arrested for helping a client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, communicate with terror cells in Egypt. He is the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

They support the “Barrio Warriors,” a radical Hispanic group whose primary goal is to return all of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to Mexico.

These are but a few of the radical groups that benefit, through the anonymity provided by the Tides Foundation, from the generosity of our would-be first lady, the wealthy widow of Republican senator John Heinz, and now the wife of the Democratic senator who aspires to be the 44th President of the United States.

Aiding and supporting our enemies is not good for America, regardless of your political views.

If voters will open their eyes, educate themselves and see the real Teresa Heinz Kerry, they will not appreciate her position as ultra rich fairy godmother of the radical left. They will not want to imagine her laying her head on a pillow each night inches away from the President of the United States.

Hopefully they love this country enough to decide that the only way these two will ever be allowed into the White House is with an engraved invitation in hand.

Instead of deleting this, pass it on. Let everyone know these people are unfit to represent this great nation. The uninformed will never hear the truth from the press, who wants Kerry elected!

Those who buy the Kerry facade, beware what you vote for - - - you may regret that you got it!

Soon after it began to circulate in the internet, the president of the Heinz Endowment issued the following statement:

In recent weeks, The Heinz Endowments has been accused of using its funding of the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania to advance a laundry list of partisan causes and fringe political groups. This accusation is simply wrong.

It originated in an opinion column written by a researcher for the conservative, Washington, D.C.-based Capital Research Center. The crux of CRC’s argument is that money directed by the Endowments to Tides is “fungible.” By supporting projects through Tides, CRC alleged that Heinz has secretly funneled money to every other organization that has ever received funding through Tides Center and the separate Tides Foundation.

Since first being published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, CRC’s accusation has been picked up and expanded in opinion pieces in a number of newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Washington Times. But not even these publications have leveled this allegation in actual news stories.

The reason why is obvious: The charge does not stand up to objective scrutiny. Four facts undercut it completely. First, by legally binding contract, every penny of Heinz’s support to Tides has been explicitly directed to specific projects in Pennsylvania. It cannot legally be redirected and is the exact opposite of fungible.

Second, the Tides Center is a provider of management and administrative services, and we have used it only for those services, not to advance Tides’ grantmaking agenda. Foundations from all across the country-many, like Heinz, with strong centrist agendas-use these services to incubate an array of nonprofit programs. So does the federal government. It is no more accurate to suggest that Heinz supports every one of these programs than it is to suggest that someone who contributes to a specific group through the United Way supports the agenda of every other United Way beneficiary.

Third, the projects we have supported through Tides speak for themselves. They include programs to test the career readiness of area high school students, protect Pittsburgh’s environment and retain young people in our region-hardly an extremist agenda.

Fourth and finally, information about every one of our Tides-related grants is and always has been readily available in our public filings, annual reports and here on our web site. Far from being secretive, we have been consistently open in detailing the nature of our grants to Tides and every other organization we fund.

I think it is only going to get worse as the election approaches. Partisans on the left and the right are going to create all sorts of urban legends about the candidates and their families, and they are going to spread like wildfire in internet as people forward them along without checking if they are accurate or not. I predict that we will even see old urban legends resurrected.

I urge everyone to check any forward they get against Snopes. If it is false, refrain from passing it along, no matter how good it sounds. Also contact all the person who sent it and set them straight. If it is unconfirmed, please reserve passing it along since its status is unknown. And if it is true, don’t pass it along since ninety percent of people don’t like forwards.

The Artist’s Protest

Last week, I read The Artist’s Statement, and it made me so mad that I emailed the city of Seattle to tell them that I wasn’t going to vacation there. There is no justification for the actions of law enforcement when they try to intimidate a brown man from talking pictures of a tourist site, while white photographers go unquestioned. The Photographer’s Right has an overview of the rights people have when taking pictures.

Response to Ian Spiers story has been so much that now a protest is being planned at the locks on August 1st: Ballard Locks Photo Workshop. I’d attend of course if I hadn’t already told the City of Seattle that I wasn’t going to visit.

(Via Pharyngula)

URL Update

I recently registered two new domains: dererumnatura.us and dererumnatura.ws. I have now changed the main domain of this blog to http://www.dererumnatura.us.

Please update your links accordingly.

Words Can’t Explain…

Grieving family finds wrong body in casket

For days, one family kept a bedside vigil for a bandaged-up boy whom they believed was their badly injured 16-year-old relative. Meanwhile, the other family prepared to bury the boy they thought was their dead 17-year-old relative.

But the moment Patrick Bement’s parents saw the face of the boy in the casket at the funeral home, they feared a terrible mistake had been made.

What is that?

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My wife, Tiffany, went hiking in South Carolina today. She and her friend got to see a black bear with a cub that crossed their trail about thirty feet ahead of them. They head the monster way before they saw it as it clambored down the hill. A bear is one thing that I have never seen in the wild.

Just when theocracy makes headway in Virginia with the passage of a “day of rest” law with no exceptions, the capitalists throw a fit and call a special session to fix the problem.

America is not a Christian nation; we are squarely a capitalist nation.

The Pulitzer Prize winning Edward J. Larson has a new book, Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. He teaches both history and law at the university of Georgia. His background is in the history of science, specifically biology.

“Everyone will agree, whether you like it or not, the theory of evolution is one of the most important concepts of the last 200 years,” Larson said. “Whether you like it or not, it influences what we think about the world, even for people who don’t accept the theory or all of the theory of evolution. It still influences society, the culture in which they operate and influences a lot of other people, and therefore it impacts our society. And yet, I couldn’t find a book that told the story of its history, full of its controversies, full of the objections, full of the implications as a story that normal people like you and I could read, rather than a technical work of science that is really dry.”

Read the rest at the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper. (Use username ‘tricky’ and password ‘marymary’ if you don’t have an account.)

The Union of Concerned Scientists is once again criticizing the Bush Administration for replacing good science with “sound science.” Sound science is of course a code word used by people who want science to conform to their politics instead of using science to inform their politics.

White House science adviser Dr. John Marburger and HHS spokesman Bill Pierce have denied the administration is distorting science. Pierce says HHS is seeking a diversity of opinions.

But Robert Paine, an ecologist at University of Washington who chaired an advisory panel on endangered salmon and trout, said his team was warned by the government to remove facts that undermined policy.

“We were told to strip out specific scientific recommendations or see our report end up in a drawer,” Paine said.

The report includes accusations of administration interference on strip mining, drug approvals and protection of endangered species.

A pattern of behavior emerged a long time ago with how this administration treated information, whether it was from scientists or the CIA. This administration uses politicical ends to warp the information it receives and releases to the public. This runs counter to effective policy making that uses information to inform and support political ends.

This administration, like its creationist breathren, suffers from a demon. The only problem is that we have to bear the consequences.

Kitten Rescued from Ocean

Holiday boaters rescue kitty who went to sea

“There was a 9-inch-long kitten doing the paddle and screaming at the top of his lungs,” said Rogers, the director of finances at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “We scooped him up and he sat on the boat with me for eight hours.”

This is a sad story about a kitten found swimming three miles into the Gulf of Mexico, by a group of people going scalloping. It has a kinda happy ending, but it makes me sad to think of the terror that little kitten went through. It is also sad to think that it might have lost its family. Hopefully, if it belongs to someone, they will read the story and get their little kitty back.

I for one know that I will not be going to see Open Water, a movie about a pair of divers stranded in the middle of the ocean after the tour boat leaves them behind.

Democratic Underground has a top ten conservative idiots list. This week’s list includes

  • The Bush Administration
  • The Justice Department
  • Fox News
  • Bill Frist
  • Lee Constantine
  • The Bush Administration
  • The Carlyle Group
  • Allen Raymond
  • Marc Balestrieri
  • Colin Powell

Check it out.

I found this over at PZ’s.

Compare the following: Republicans in the House took more than 140 hours of testimony to investigate whether the Clinton White House misused its holiday card database but less than five hours of testimony regarding how the Bush administration treated Iraqi detainees.

There is a simple but deplorable principle at work. In both the Clinton and Bush eras, oversight has been driven by raw partisanship. Congressional leaders have vacillated between the extremes of abusing their investigative powers and ignoring them, depending on the party affiliation of the president.

Remember when rebulicrats in Arizona tried to recall McCain because he wasn’t a “Bush Republican?” Bush supporters were upset that the senator didn’t simply rubberstamp everything el presidente wanted. The concept of checks and balances doesn’t mean anything to these idiots. Last election campaign, I was dismayed at the number of Republican running for congress on the rubberstamp platform.

Me in the News

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I love using Google to see if anyone is saying anything about me. Today I found this article from Trinity College about the Georgia “E-Word” controvercy.

I’m Back

Well I’m back from Evolution 2004. I am now working on a write up of Epperson’s Talk for PT.

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