Friday, September 30, 2005

The only time conservatives like abortion...

Bennett under fire for remarks on blacks, crime
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional Democrats blasted former Education Secretary William Bennett on Thursday for saying that aborting "every black baby in this country" would reduce the crime rate, and demanded their Republican counterparts do the same.

Bennett is being harshly criticized, but he says he is standing by his comments.

NOTE: Bennett is the author of the Book of Virtues and many more in his "Virtues" series. These books intend to give instruction to young adults and children on how to be virtuous. Apparently teaching virtue to poor children is his second choice; he'd rather just abort them. Clearly he himself his a very virtuous and self-disciplined man.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

No U.S. Network Would Show this U.N. PSA

This actually relates to another post from the last couple of days.

Apparently, no U.S. network would play this U.N. PSA. Take a look.

Greenhouse effect: A violation of human rights?

Report: Ice-free Arctic summers possible by 2100
Inuit hunters threatened by the melting of Arctic ice plan to file a petition in December accusing the United States of violating their human rights by fueling global warming. The Bush administration has opted out of the Kyoto Treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

That's a pretty interesting spin on the problem. Call it a human rights violation. Make it equivalent to government depriving you of your civil liberties. Maybe that's easier to argue? The Inuit are one of the few people who could make this argument directly because of their lifestyle.

However, ...
The Inuit number about 155,000 people in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia.

There American numbers are very small, so their legal options are much more limited. Additionally, it would be a tough argument to prove that their lifestyle is impacted so much by the U.S. alone that the U.S. deserves all of the blame.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What debate?

So this isn't new news . . . but it was on Google news today.

By accident or design?
As governor of Texas, George W. Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution. Last month, he said intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution. "Both sides ought to be properly taught," he said, "so people can understand what the debate is about."

Okay, but there is no debate. The debate is confined to the school system. Teaching students both sides only prepares them for the fight about what to teach them. Once you stop worrying about what school kids are being taught, there is no debate.

It's such a circular argument. They have created a debate first and then next used that debate as a reason to have the thing that they are debating. It's very clever.

[ Yet, winning the debate for ID means keeping ID in the schools... Thus if you leave ID in the schools, then you're saying that there is no debate! ]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mine fields to protect wild life

Penguins stay snug and secure in minefields
KIDNEY COVE, Falkland Islands (Reuters) -- There's a mating ritual going on in the minefield.

Fortunately the would-be lovers are penguins, too light to detonate the deadly mines laid more than two decades ago during a war on the far-flung Falkland Islands.

Thousands of penguins and other feathered and amphibious friends choose to nest and rest in no-go zones. The British estimate that some 25,000 land mines, mostly sown by Argentine forces in the 1982 war with Britain, remain.

On a recent day, the squawking penguins were busily finding partners, preparing nests and waddling about the mating grounds.

Wildlife numbers in the mined areas appear to be on the rise and conservationists cannot hide their enthusiasm about this unorthodox form of protecting lands previously trampled by people or overgrazed by sheep.

It is the bright spot in a long-term land mine problem -- one that is not likely to go away because de-mining is difficult, if not impossible, in the peaty soils and shifting sands of this South Atlantic archipelago.

Grant Munro, director of Falklands Conservation, says the boost to wildlife is a bit anecdotal since "it has really not been looked into, for obvious reasons."

"But you see an assemblage of plants in the minefields, all fenced and inspected, with no livestock inside. Vegetation has had a chance to recover," he added.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Katrina and hybrid demand

I bet GM is realy kicking themselves... (the last quote is particularly interesting)

Toyota: Katrina drove up hybrid demand
DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. has seen a rise in demand for hybrid vehicles in the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as consumers seek more mileage out of $3-gallon gasoline, a top official said on Thursday.

"At the end of last month, we had a 20-hour supply of the Prius (hybrid sedan)," Jim Press, head of Toyota's U.S. operations, said at the Reuters Autos Summit, held in Detroit. "We no longer count in days."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Women in science

I was forwarded this article the other day (from The Stanford Daily). This author's opinion is that women cannot be found in science because science is a crappy place in which to be found.

Not enough women in science? Good for them!
With all the fuss about the low percentage of women faculty in science and engineering, people have started asking, "Why aren't more women going into these fields?"

Maybe the real question is, "Why are so many men going into them?"

Science and engineering demand big investments for uncertain rewards. Students must endure four years of difficult undergraduate courses, perhaps a few years of master's study and around seven years of graduate study to earn a Ph.D. Their reward for a decade of minimum wage apprenticeship? More of the same.

So maybe not going into science isn't a sign that women aren't as capable as men: maybe it's a sign that they're a bit smarter.

Funny, those are the fields in which women are overrepresented. Women make up 80.6 percent of elementary and middle school teachers, 90.2 percent of registered nurses and 89 percent of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides. These are fulfilling careers with good job-growth outlooks. Maybe we need to start asking not, "Why aren't there more women in science and engineering?" but, "Why aren't there more men in nursing and teaching?"

$5 Gas

Rita could equal $5 gas
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Remember when gas spiked to $3-plus a gallon after Hurricane Katrina? By this time next week, that could seem like the good old days.

Weather and energy experts say that as bad as Hurricane Katrina hit the nation's supply of gasoline, Hurricane Rita could be worse.

Katrina damage was focused on offshore oil platforms and ports. Now the greater risk is to oil-refinery capacity, especially if Rita slams into Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas.

"We could be looking at gasoline lines and $4 gas, maybe even $5 gas, if this thing does the worst it could do," said energy analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover. "This storm is in the wrong place. And it's absolutely at the wrong time," said Beutel.

And now that they've predicted it, even if it doesn't have to happen they'll still raise prices just because that's what everyone is expecting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Catholics Hate Homosexuals

Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence
Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching, according to a document prepared to guide the process.

The Vatican document, given to The New York Times yesterday by a priest, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.

Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more.

The issue of gay seminarians and priests has been in the spotlight because a study commissioned by the church found last year that about 80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.

Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to male targets - like altar boys or junior seminarians - than to girls.

But some church officials in the United States and in Rome, including some bishops and many conservatives, attributed the abuse to gay priests and called for an overhaul of the seminaries. Expectation for such a move rose this year with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has spoken of the need to "purify" the church.

But one gay priest, who said he would not give his name because he has been told by his order not to speak out, said the seminary review would demoralize gay priests.

"It says to gay priests, many of whom are hard-working, faithful men who live their promises of celibacy with integrity, that you should never have been ordained," he said.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sounds of Typing Give Messages Away

Sounds of Typing Give Messages Away

Doug Tygar of the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues used a standard microphone to record 10 minutes of noise generated by computer typists. Because the sound generated by each keystroke is slightly different, the researchers were able to generate a computer program to decode what was written. "Using statistical learning theory, the computer can categorize the sound of each key as it's struck and develop a good first guess with an accuracy of 60 percent for characters, and 20 percent for words," explains team member Li Zuang also of U.C. Berkeley. "We then use spelling and grammar check to refine the result, which increased the accuracy to 70 percent and the word accuracy to 50 percent."

By putting the playback on a loop, they further increased the accuracy to 96 percent for characters and 80 percent for words.

"It's a form of acoustical spying that should raise red flags among computer security and privacy experts," Tygar says. "If we were able to figure this out, it's likely that people with less honorable intentions can, or have, as well."

I would think that the best way to protect your passwords against this would be to use non-word passwords that do not fit into the statistical profile of charcters in the English language. However, if you type a lot of typical stuff for long enough before your password, it probably would be able to make a pretty good guess at your password.
 

Saturday, September 17, 2005

IBM and School Teachers

This is fascinating!

IBM pushes math and science education
NEW YORK (AP) -- International Business Machines Corp., worried the United States is losing its competitive edge, will financially back employees who want to leave the company to become math and science teachers.

The new program, being announced Friday with city and state education officials, reflects tech industry fears that U.S. students are falling behind peers from Bangalore to Beijing in the sciences.

Up to 100 IBM employees will be eligible for the program in its trial phase. The goal is to help fill shortfalls in the nation's teaching ranks, a problem expected to grow with the retirement of today's educators.

Bush's Position on Roe v. Wade

A joke from my sister:
Q: What is Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nuclear Fallout and Forensics

Apparently the nuclear tests conducted from 1955 to 1963 have left a lot of carbon-14 in the atmosphere. Levels of this carbon-14 rapidly equalized around the globe and have been decaying at a steady rate ever since. What's interesting is that these levels are then deposited into teeth when they form around age 12. This means that by finding the amount of carbon-14 in teeth, forensic scientists can determine the age of an individual.

Legacy of Nuclear Tests May Provide New Forensic Tool
The above-ground nuclear tests that occurred between 1955 and 1963 dramatically increased the amount of the isotope carbon-14 in the atmosphere. The levels rapidly equalized around the globe, even though the explosions occurred at only a few locations, and entered plants in the food chain through photosynthesis. By eating plants, and animals that feed on plants, human absorb carbon-14 and exhibit levels of the benign, traceable isotope that are similar to atmospheric concentrations. What is more, carbon-14 decays with a half-life of 5,730 years, a phenomenon that scientists can exploit as a way to determine the ages of objects that contain the isotope. For the new study, Jonas Frisén of the Medical Nobel Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and his colleagues analyzed the carbon content of tooth enamel. Because teeth do not exhibit any turnover during a person's life, the scientists can determine when a tooth formed by comparing its carbon-14 content to past atmospheric levels. In addition, adult teeth form during a distinct period of childhood development around age 12, so this information can be translated into the age of an individual.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ouch...

I really have no idea what to feel about this device. I'm guessing that further study will show that it will do more harm than good. Even if it works, it seems a little too... barbaric? Still though, how can you blame women who live in areas like these for wearing something like this?

On the other hand, is it possible that it will be used against innocent men? Would it be possible that women could actually lure men in and attack them with it?

So... strange.

South Africa anti-rape condom aims to stop attacks


KLEINMOND, South Africa (Reuters) - A South African inventor unveiled a new anti-rape female condom on Wednesday that hooks onto an attacker's penis and aims to cut one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world.

"Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time," Sonette Ehlers, 57, said of the "rapex", a device worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime.

But the "rapex" has raised fears amongst anti-rape activists that it could escalate violence against women.

"If a victim is wearing such a device it may enrage the attacker further and possibly result in more harm being caused," said Sam Waterhouse, advocacy co-ordinator for Rape Crisis.

Other critics say the condom is mediaeval and barbaric

 

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Pastor Grateful about New Orleans

Thanks to Taming of the Blog for this nugget:

New Orleans Residents: God's Mercy Evident in Katrina's Wake
“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

NCLB denies tutors to troubled students

Just a reminder to those who forget how stupid President GWBush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is...

Chicago to get relaxed tutoring rule -- and others will be watching
Under federal rules, school districts that fail to show enough yearly progress in reading and math for two straight years cannot provide tutoring. That restriction is designed to protect poor students from having to rely on the same schools that may not be serving them well when tapping into the law's promise of free tutoring.

But urban districts such as Chicago say the rule is unfair because their test scores in two subjects may have little to do with their ability to provide extra help. What's more, the large districts argue, the rule could keep children from getting help if other tutors aren't available.

So this makes sense -- take tutors away from good students who are improving just because on average the school district as a whole hasn't improved the way NCLB would like them to improve (in some fantasy NCLB world where that improvement is possible). Taking the tutors away is supposed to (I guess?) free up money to concentrate on other programs... because TUTORING is clearly superfluous.

My nephew had an interesting brush with NCLB. Increased testing requirements forced the school to find that he's a gifted art student, something that surprised his parents. However, decreased funding meant that the school had to close its arts program completely, so the only place where my nephew can nurture his talent is at a special program for youngsters at CCAD, which is more than 45 minutes away from him by car. (my nephew also plays sports and does homework; his sister has a similar schedule, and his parents are pretty busy working and taking care of the two of them to drive him to CCAD for an arts program that his school won't even give him credit for taking)

George W. Bush used to be governor of Texas, a state that is 50th in education. How can this man possibly pretend to be an expert on education? He brought the same half-brained idiots from Texas with him. He's surrounded by the same stagnant bad ideas that have been around for years.

Personally, I think he thinks that he can dumb down the entire nation to the point wherhe Texas won't look so bad. This is all an attempt to make Texas look better.

SEE? Evolution is science and ID is not!

After my previous post, this article just baffles me.

Scientists decode chimp DNA
NEW YORK (AP) -- Scientists have deciphered the DNA of the chimpanzee, the closest living relative of humankind, and made comprehensive comparisons with the human genetic blueprint.

It is a step toward finding a biological answer to a key question: What makes us human?

There are no firm answers yet about how humans picked up key traits such as walking upright and developing complex language. But the work has produced a long list of DNA differences with the chimp and some hints about which ones might be crucial.

Humans and chimps have evolved separately since splitting from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago, and their DNA remains highly similar -- about 96 percent to almost 99 percent identical, depending on how the comparison is made.

Still, the number of genetic differences between a human and a chimp is about 10 times more than between any two humans, the federal genome institute says. It is the differences -- some 40 million -- that attract the attention of scientists.

There's no question to real scientists doing real research. All evidence points to evolution by way of natural selection.

And I know that lots of people are going to read this AP article and be fine with it, despite their feelings about Darwinism and ID. They are going to read this article and think "science." They are going to read this article and be interested and wonder what the scientists answers will be. They are going to read this article and find it fascinating.

And then they are going to read that NYTimes article and assert that they believe in creationism, not Darwinism, and they're sure about that. And they're not going to realize that this is completely inconsistent with what they ACTUALLY think deep down inside. They KNOW what is science and what is not... They just refuse to let themselves admit it... because clever power-hungry conservatives have drafted a movement that has brainwashed a nation.

Dumb Nation Under God, Divisible, with Stubbornness and Ignorance for All

There is very little about this new survey that doesn't disturb me.

Teaching of Creationism Is Endorsed in New Survey
The poll found that 42 percent of respondents held strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time. But of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by a supreme being," and 26 percent said that evolution occurred through natural selection. In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38
percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.

"It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' It seems like a nice compromise, but it infuriates both the creationists and the scientists," said Mr. Green, who is also a professor at the University of Akron in Ohio.

Eugenie C. Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education and a prominent defender of evolution, said the findings were not surprising because "Americans react very positively to the fairness or equal time kind of argument."

"In fact, it's the strongest thing that creationists have got going for them because their science is dismal," Ms. Scott said. "But they do have American culture on their side."

Intelligent design, a descendant of creationism, is the belief that life is so intricate that only a supreme being could have designed it.

The poll showed 41 percent of respondents wanted parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who said teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who said school boards should. Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed.

More of those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain" of their views (63 percent), compared with those who believe in evolution (32 percent).