National Review’s John Derbyshire hammers intelligent design advocates

December 31, 2006

National Review kept me alert to developments in the world of conservatives with brains in the latter part of my high school life and through college. I must confess, though, that I have not been a regular reader for nearly two decades. A lot of the intellectual air seemed to leak out after William F. Buckley left.

NR still offers a window into conservatism in America, though. John Derbyshire in his wrap-up of 2006 offers a review of intelligent design advocates that they would do well to pay attention to. Derbyshire keeps alive the flames of thought at NR.

Welcome, readers clicking over from Pharyngula.  More posts on intelligent design issues can be found here, at the index of ID posts on this blog.

For the record: Pearceys’ slam at Judge Jones unwarranted

December 30, 2006

Rick and Nancy Pearcey — she the author of Christian best-seller Total Truth — have a blog called Pro-Existence. A few days ago I stumbled across the blog because they quoted me :

Praise:University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert called Jones’ ruling a ‘masterpiece of wit, scholarship and clear thinking’ while lawyer Ed Darrell said the judge ‘wrote a masterful decision, a model for law students on how to decide a case based on the evidence presented.’ Time magazine said the ruling made Jones one of ‘the world’s most influential people’ in the category of ‘scientists and thinkers.'”

Well, they didn’t quote me directly: They borrowed the quote from a Discovery Institute paper. That’s only significant because such copying is, by their definition, the academic sin of “plagiarizing,” judging from the way they attempt to accuse a federal judge of not doing his duty. (And, if I had to guess, I’d guess they didn’t read the report, but instead copied their stuff from a report in WorldNet Daily — plagiarism of a copy! At least they linked, even if they didn’t attribute, to that publication.)

They borrowed the DI’s criticism of Judge John E. Johns, of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, in his decision against a school board’s requiring intelligent design be inserted to the curriculum of the local schools. DI clumsily, and erroneously, labeled the decision a piece of plagiarism.

I wrote a response. The Pearceys have not seen fit to publish it (it’s a closely moderated blog, and apparently anything that they don’t like, or that calls them to Christian task for their errors, doesn’t make it). I post my response to the Pearcey’s below the fold. If they respond here, I won’t censor them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Flags at half-staff to honor President Ford

December 29, 2006

Just a reminder that we are to fly our flags at half-mast in honor of President Gerald Ford. Bush’s order calls for 30 days of this honor from the day of Ford’s death (December 26 through the evening of January 25).


Further reminder: The flag should be hoisted quickly (as always), to the peak of the pole, and then be lowered solemnly to half-mast. When the flag is retired at the end of the day, it should be raised again to the peak, quickly, and then lowered solemnly.

  • Photo of U.S. flag at half-staff over the White House, on the event of Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004. Photo by Mike Lynaugh.

See also:

Update, January 25, 2007:  Sundown January 25 marks the end of the 30-day period of mourning for President Ford; flags should fly at full staff tomorrow, or 24-hour displays should be hoisted to the peak of the staff at sundown Thursday, January 25.

Olla podrida

December 29, 2006

Olla podrida is a local, Spanish term for a Mulligan stew, for olio, etc.

Founding fathers and illegal immigrants — A new blog on the migration debate, cleverly titled Migration Debate, highlights a New York Times opposite-editorial page piece that details how many of our “founding fathers” took advantage of illegal immigration, or immigrated illegally themselves.  William Hogeland wrote the piece, whom some of you will recognize as the author of The Whiskey Rebellion:  George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the Frontier Rebels who challenged America’s newfound sovereignty. (Scribner, 2006)

Google’s amazing powers:   Bad time to be speechless:  Over at 31fps, magical powers are explained:  The author finds a store on Google maps, clicks a button, and Google first calls his phone, and then calls the store — go Google, and leave the dialing to Google.  Star Trek wasn’t this good.  Just be sure you’re over being speechless when the party at the other end answers.

Amazing cosmos:  Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy lists his top 10 images from outer space for 2006.  #1 is a doozy, but be sure you read the explanation Phil offers.

Fashionable extinction:  Microecos explains how fashion wiped out a beautiful, unique bird, the huia, in New Zealand, a century ago.   It’s a reminder of how stupid humans can be — a good exercise is in there somewhere for geography classes, or a general lecture on the effects of colonization.

Dobzhansky on evolution theory

December 29, 2006

“Let me try to make crystal clear what is established beyond reasonable doubt, and what needs further study, about evolution. Evolution as a process that has always gone on in the history of the earth can be doubted only by those who are ignorant of the evidence or are resistant to evidence, owing to emotional blocks or to plain bigotry. By contrast, the mechanisms that bring evolution about certainly need study and clarification. There are no alternatives to evolution as history that can withstand critical examination. Yet we are constantly learning new and important facts about evolutionary mechanisms.”

Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” American Biology Teacher vol. 35 (March 1973); reprinted in Evolution versus Creationism, J. Peter Zetterberg, ed., ORYX Press, Phoenix, Arizona, 1983

Dobzhansky in California, c. 1966

Dobzhansky in California, c. 1966. American Philosophical Society photo

Video on evolution as the “breakthrough of the year” in 2005, for Science magazine, is here:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Talk.Origins and Laurence Moran.

NCLB renewal faces tough sledding

December 28, 2006

The No Child Left Behind Act is scheduled for renewal by 2008, but observers are saying it will not come so soon because of the national elections. The Act will face significant phalanx of people and organizations demanding changes, too.

Media General’s Gil Klein produced a general piece of reporting on the politics and issues for NCLB renewal, which started appearing in U.S. newspapers on December 22.

It has shaken every teacher in every classroom, and when the No Child Left Behind law comes up for renewal next year, it faces a political battle that could last until after the 2008 election.

“We did a survey of Washington insiders and it is almost unanimous that it won’t happen until 2009, regardless of what all the politicians are saying,” said Michael Petrilli, an education analyst with the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, who worked in the Education Department when the law passed.

[There is a lot of good reporting out of Washington by regional news agencies and smaller services, like Media General, Knight-Ridder (used to be a bigger player than today), and other groups. Bloggers would do well to bring some of these reports to the attention of the world, instead of relying on the New YorkTimes, Washington Post, and major broadcast outlets. This is a case of a smaller agency simply providing a solid story ahead of the curve.] Read the rest of this entry »

Cartooning on Gerald Ford’s head

December 28, 2006

Pat Oliphant, one of my favorite cartoonists since his days at the Denver Post, has a wonderful, funny tribute to Gerald Ford — go see, here.

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