"Jurassic Prick"

18 December 2006

TNR columnist and Yale graduate Michael Crowley recently wrote an article (you can read the full text here if you don't have a subscription) critical of Michael Crichton and his stance on global warming. So what does Michael Crichton do? He writes a child-raping character named "Mick Crowley" into his latest book:

The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. .

He even says that Crowley has a tiny penis, to boot:
Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.

Michael Crowley wrote a response to Mick Crichton here titled "Jurassic Prick".

"I'm calling to publicly apologize for messing up your game."

13 December 2006

Read this for background, and then listen to this.

Live From Palatine, Illinois!

17 November 2006

The Merrill Howard Kalin Show

Part I

Part II

Part III

Paco de Lucia

12 November 2006

What's Shakin', McFly?

30 October 2006

Michael J. Fox recently ran this ad in Missouri:

To which Rush Limbaugh responded:

"In this commercial he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking and it is purely an act."

"I stated when I saw the ad, I was commenting to you about it, that he was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all."

It seems pretty clear that he wasn't off his medication for the ad, because the medication is what causes that severe shaking. People with Parkinson's Disease tend to stiffen when they're off their medication.

As far as him faking it, it's also worth noting that Michael J. Fox is pretty much like that for all of his interviews. After this was pointed out to Rush, he issued a semi-apology and then shifted gears a bit:

So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.

"Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

As far as him shilling for a Democratic candidate, it's worth noting that Michael J. Fox ran a similar ad in support of Republican Senator Arlen Specter in 2004. I think it's pretty obvious that he's doing these ads simply to promote stem cell research. I haven't seen any evidence anywhere that he has some secret liberal agenda or that he was pressured into this by the Democrats.

Several B-List celebrities also put out a very cheap-looking counter-ad:

The claim that this will allow human cloning is bogus. So is the claim that it will seduce poor women to sell their eggs in some back-alley clinic. Let's look at the language of the proposed amendment itself:

Section 38(d). 1. This section shall be known as the “ Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.”

2. To ensure that Missouri patients have access to stem cell therapies and cures, that Missouri researchers can conduct stem cell research in the state, and that all such research is conducted safely and ethically, any stem cell research permitted under federal law may be conducted in Missouri, and any stem cell therapies and cures permitted under federal law may be provided to patients in Missouri, subject to the requirements of federal law and only the following additional limitations and requirements:

(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.

(2) No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research.

(3) No stem cells may be taken from a human blastocyst more than fourteen days after cell division begins; provided, however, that time during which a blastocyst is frozen does not count against the fourteen-day limit.

(4) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.

(5) Human blastocysts and eggs obtained for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures must have been donated with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing.

(6) Human embryonic stem cell research may be conducted only by persons that, within 180 days of the effective date of this section or otherwise prior to commencement of such research, whichever is later, have
. . .

Despite the amendment's language saying that "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being," its opponents say that the amendment's definition of cloning is misleading. The amendment does allow researchers to undertake a procedure called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). Basically, they can take a human egg and fill it with a nuclear body cell and then do research upon it. This is the first step in the process that scientists used to clone Dolly, except that under this amendment you can't take any further steps that would grow and develop this cell into a human being.

To say that this amounts to "human cloning" basically requires you to say that this cell and the blastocyst that it forms within the next two weeks is a human being itself. The first thing that I would like to point out, however, is that this group of cells doesn't even have a single brain cell, let alone any brain activity. It takes two weeks or longer for this to even form a the beginnings of a pre-neural network. A blastocyst is simply a pluripotent group of cells that could turn into pretty much anything. It could turn into a liver or a pancreas or a human, depending on the conditions provided. But a sperm could turn into a human being, if given the right environment and conditions. To say that this is a human being simply by virtue of what it could turn into just doesn't make much sense to me.

The Land Before Time

15 October 2006

The Iowa Republican Party has included support for Intelligent Design / Creationism in its party platform.

3.4 We support the teaching of alternative theories on the origins of life including Darwinian Evolution, Creation Science or Intelligent Design, and that each should be given equal weight in presentation.

Bob Vander Plaats, the running-mate for Iowa's gubernatorial race has much the same to say on the topic:
"If we are going to teach evolution, there is another viewpoint and one that holds pretty good too (evolution) in regards to creation," Vander Plaats said. "I think that is something that I would want to visit further along with Jim Nussle in regards to 'Where are you at on that?' But my viewpoint is I would like to give both of these (time in the classroom)."

Fuckin' Iowa...

The Rise And Fall Of The Blockbuster

26 September 2006

Chris Anderson and Lawrence Lessig are going to be in town and discussing The Long Tail on Thursday. Who else is excited?


15 September 2006

The man behind the camera is Mark Bunker, producer at XenuTV, a website with many hilarious videos and news reports about Scientology. That's why all these people recognize him. Also, I haven't seen the word "enturbulate" in any dictionaries.



14 September 2006

Dennis Hastert

Hang In There

08 September 2006

Senator Bill Frist has made Internet gambling one of his top priorities.

"Internet gambling threatens our families by bringing addictive behavior right into our living rooms," Frist said in floor remarks.

Despite the fact that he finds Internet gambling to be such a threat to our families, he is willing to make exceptions for horse racing and state lotteries, the most common source of gambling addictions. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (H.R. 4411) that he wants to push through "with as little debate as possible" specifically singles these two out for special treatment for some reason.

Internal consistency aside, the bill still seems very silly. How is internet poker a threat to our families? Lots of things can be addictive, but we don't just outlaw them. Nonetheless, we've continued to arrest not just United States citizens for running online gambling sites, but also foreign citizens such as Peter Dicks and David Carruthers for doing something that is perfectly legal in their own countries. (Jacob Sullum has a very good article at Reason about the topic.)

One more Bill Frist quote:
I visited the various animal shelters in the Boston suburbs, collecting cats, taking them home, treating them as pets for a few days, then carting them off to the labs to die in the interest of science.
-Bill Frist, from his autobiography Transplant

Teach The Controversy?

04 September 2006

Despite the fact that 95% of all American scientists (99.85% when you adjust to look at only those in relevent fields) believe in evolution and reject theories of special creation, a large number of people seem to think that there is some sort of controversy.
This graph on the right, gathered in a recent survey, demonstrates that many people in this country are misinformed as to the scientific consensus on the issue. Further, the misconception seems to be linked more heavily to the religious, particularly evangelical protestants.

Argumentum Ad Hitlerum

28 August 2006

Why does America rank so low in acceptance of evolutionary theory? Well it probably has something to do with the massive PR campaign that makes such claims as this:

“To put it simply, no Darwin, no Hitler,” said Dr. Kennedy, the host of Darwin’s Deadly Legacy.

Dr. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries attempts to link Darwin to Hitler, eugenics, the Columbine shootings and pretty much everything else that's bad in the world in his new documentary titled Darwin's Deadly Legacy. One of the many problems with this, Godwin's Law aside, is that Hitler himself made it clear in Mein Kampf that he didn't even believe in evolution.

For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties.
Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law--one may call it an iron law of Nature--which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind. Each animal mates only with one of its own species. The titmouse cohabits only with the titmouse, the finch with the finch, the stork with the stork, the field-mouse with the field-mouse, the house-mouse with the house-mouse, the wolf with the she-wolf, etc.

This one is my favorite:

From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump, as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today.

So there you have it. Dr. James Kennedy is an ass. But even if Hitler did believe in evolution, then Darwin would be no more responsible for the Holocaust than Einstein was for Hiroshima. They both merely proposed value-neutral scientific theories. The fact that species have achieved their current diversity through the process of natural selection does not at all imply that we should kill off those we deem "weak". The fact that splitting an atom results in a massive release of energy in no way implies that we should release that energy over a Japanese city.

The documentary is a transparent attempt to make the theory of evolution look like a dangerous ideology that you should protect your children against. It's meant to motivate people to oppose this "deadly idea":

Evolution is taught in every public school in America, and not without consequences, as Darwin’s Deadly Legacy documents. Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 people and themselves in the worst school shooting in U.S. history.


UPDATE: Kennedy is dead.

Oh, heavens...

23 August 2006

Pope Benedict XVI fired Rev. George V. Coyne, the vatican's astronomer and director of Vatican Observatory since 1978, for advocating evolutionary theory over intelligent design. So here we have another instance of influential religious leaders promoting ID/creationism over evolution despite the fact that scientists overwhelmingly reject the idea. It's things like this that lead to the chart I posted the other day.

Also, why does the vatican have an astronomer on staff?

Update: Due to the firing of Rev. Coyne and Pope Benedict XVI's decision to have a meeting with his former students to discuss evolution, there has been a growing concern that he was planning on taking a new stance on the topic. This article has some more insights from an insider as to what Benedict is going to do regarding evolution. Despite his remarks that "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God." and his expression of doubts towards the idea of "macroevolution", it seems that the pope is going to leave the question of evolution to the scientists to handle.


10 August 2006

The chart on the left details the public acceptance of evolution around the world, as gathered from Science magazine. Turkey was the only country ranked lower than the United States.

The details of the study (found in the materials linked above) were even more ridiculous. In the United States, I was a little surprised to see that 28% of the population seems to think that the earliest humans lived alongside dinosaurs.

But it looks like people don't really reject the idea of evolution on the whole. Just certain uncomfortable aspects of it. The statistics listed on Science magazine's survey seem to indicate that the public has a harder time swallowing the idea that man evolved from earlier species (40% believe that we did evolve, 39% believe we absolutely did not evolve) than it does with the idea that evolution happens at all (78% believe that some animals adapt to the environment in time, while only 3% believe they do not).

According to a Gallup poll from 1991, only 5% of scientists believe in some form of special creation. But that figure takes into account all scientists and engineers from all fields, including those that are completely unrelated to the theory of evolution (such as computer science), so it may be a bit generous. When that figure is adjusted to deal with only the scientists in biological and earth scientists, less than 0.15% believe in creationism. And that's just in the United States. The figure drops even lower in the countries ranked higher than ours.

So basically, there is a huge gap between the opinions of people who study this stuff for a living and the everyday man on the streets. Why the disconnect? It's most likely a result of the concerted efforts of certain religious groups (mostly biblical literalists) to undermine the scientific theory of evolution in the public sphere. There's an interesting story here about evangelicals in Kenya who are basically trying to hide a fossil exhibit on human evolution. There is also the long history in the United States of various creation science groups attempting to inject criticisms and alternatives to evolution into high school curriculums.

Canadian Cyclist Suspended For Unsportsmanlike Conduct

06 August 2006

Downhill mountain bike racer Danika Schroeter has been suspended for three months for wearing a T-shirt that mocked transgender cyclist Michelle Dumaresq.

In the downhill championship this week, Dumaresq won the women's race. Schroeter came in second. But during the podium ceremony, Schroeter wore a white T-shirt with black print that said "100 Per Cent Pure Woman Champ."

Athletes may not "in word, gesture, writing or otherwise harm the reputation or question the honour of other license holders, officials, sponsors, federations, the UCI or cycling in general," the association said in a release.

It seems clear that Schroeter broke the rules by mocking a fellow certified competitor, but the interesting question here is, "is it fair to allow male-to-female transgendered athletes to compete as women?" Weighing in at 6'1", 180lbs., Dumaresq seems to have reaped the advantages of being born with a larger frame than her "100% female" competitors.

If the spirit of these games is to test the natural abilities of its unaltered competitors, where they achieve their physical abilities through natural processes of hard work, exercise and determination, then I think that this decision goes against that sense of fairness. Either Dumaresq is on hormones, in which case her body is basically altered through a steady intake of drugs, or she is not on hormones, in which case she is running on mostly male hormones which give her an edge.

On the other hand, if the spirit of these games is to just have fun and compete in an all-inclusive hug-fest, then there's ultimately no problem here.


05 August 2006

This image was recently displayed on the cover of the magazine Baby Talk. 25% of its readership, it turns out, was outraged.

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said.

"I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

"I had to rip off the cover since I didn't want it laying around the house."

The article was aimed at the controversy of breast-feeding in public, and it may ease your mind to know that the majority of the mail they received was supportive of their handling of the issue. But still, 25% is a lot to be "outraged" by something like this. Further, the American Dietic Association found in a recent poll that 57% oppose public breastfeeding and 72% think it is inappropriate to show women breastfeeding on television.

The childishness of the quotes above indicates that a lot of people are simply grossed out by seeing a breast. It's hard to argue with someone's personal preferences, but I don't mind people holding on to silly beliefs as long as they don't enforce them against others (breastfeeding is safe as a legal issue in this country).

A possible side-effect of this general public puritanism though is that it may discourage some mothers from breastfeeding when it is most likely the healthiest thing for their babies. The FDA released this report that indicates it is in the best interest of an infant's health to breastfeed for at least one year. Here are a few highlights:
  • Human milk contains just the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for human digestion, brain development, and growth.
  • Breast-fed babies have fewer illnesses because human milk transfers to the infant a mother's antibodies to disease. About 80 percent of the cells in breast milk are macrophages, cells that kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. Breast-fed babies are protected, in varying degrees, from a number of illnesses, including pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, and German measles. Furthermore, mothers produce antibodies to whatever disease is present in their environment, making their milk custom-designed to fight the diseases their babies are exposed to as well.
  • Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile, never contaminated by polluted water or dirty bottles, which can also lead to diarrhea in the infant.

I always thought something was missing...

It even comes overloaded with symbolism!

The Lifted Cross

(New Testament)

THE CROSS demonstrates God’s love for humanity by offering His Son for our salvation. The Statue of Liberty represents America exalting Christ and recognizing that He alone is the way to God and the source of true liberation in all areas of life.

The Seven
Spiked Crown


THE GOLD SEVEN-SPIKED CROWN demonstrates God’s benefits for man when he receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Each spike reflects one of the seven redemptive names of God. These names reveal His character. 1) God is our Provider. 2) God is our Healer. 3) God is our Peace. 4) God is our Victory. 5) God is always Present. 6) God is our Righteousness. 7) God is our Sanctifier.

The Two Tablets
of Stone

(Old Testament)

THE TABLETS OF STONE represents the Ten Commandments and the importance of God’s laws in society to establish morality and values. Scripture says that if we reject God’s laws, then He will reject us.

The Tear

THE TEAR represents Lady Liberation’s despair over America’s rapid decline from its Judeo-Christian values. She weeps for our nation’s self-destruction as the protective hand of God is removed. Yet, she realizes that there is still hope for America if we return to God through Jesus Christ.

The Robe

The Brick Pedestal

THE PEDESTAL holds the tomb of Christ.

The Broken Chain

THE BROKEN CHAIN is wrapped around her left ankle and hangs over the left edge of the pedestal. It symbolizes freedom of any and all bondage. It is God’s desire to see mankind liberated in every area of life.

The Dove

THE DOVE symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The Word of God says that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).

First Post

04 August 2006