I'm not going to post about the horrific nature of the damage, or the incredible stories of heroism that will come out of it, but I am going to make an observation:

The sad thing is the number of people that are blaming this on the current administration - either through failure to impliment Kyoto (e.g.), or through not funding La. levees enough (e.g.).The first accusation is ridiculous - the Senate would have been the one to ratify Kyoto, and it shot the treaty down during the Clinton administration. Regarding the second, it appears that when La. did not get extra dough from the federal coffers, they repalced it with. . . nothing. Call me silly, but if there is a problem in my house, I don't look for the city to give me a hand out - and if there is a problem in my state, I think a solution should come from within, rather than waiting on the sugar daddies of Washington DC to come me way.

I could come up with more sources for both of the above, but right now is not the time for partisan bickering - people on one forum slam Bush for not being there, people on another proclaim that if he shows up, he's going to be grandstanding for political gain. I'm disgusted with a lot of people right now, including any religious people who are proclaiming Katrina as some sort of biblical Armageddon for New Orleans. It's a major tragedy here in our country - can't we forget, just for a couple weeks, that we are anything other than Americans, and concentrate instead on helping the wounded and the suffering?

If you want to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, go here.

Isn't he a cutie?

He made the paper - just for being cute (and, in the right place at the right time.)

Here he's playing peek-a-boo with me around the basket of a replica hot air balloon.


A new look

Astute readers will notice that I've changed templates. The reason for the change is simple, and it's not for aesthetics. Most of the comments I have received lately haven't been constructive, nor even abusive. They've been spam.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I wasn't able to see the little garbage can icon which is supposed to allow me to delete comments. After some fiddling, I was able to get them to appear, but only after changing my template (in order to verify that the page was refreshing properly).

I might keep the new look, I might go back to the old, I might change it into something else. But, one thing is certain: comment all you like. If it's valid (ie, you are posting something at least vaguely germane to the topic at hand), it stays, no matter how asinine, contrary or witty. If it's spam, on the other hand, it's gone.

I've noticed. . .

thatI update only once or twice a week. This seems kind of low, until I think about all the various forums, blogs, etc, of which I am an active participant. If I could collate all the random thoughts that I regurgitate over the Internet, then my blog could be updated with something new every couple of hours.


Eran Yuor Dreege Now

Now, that's spelling either designed to get past a spam filter, or one which is designed to inspire confidence. I'm going with the latter, since the rest of the spam seems to be mostly constructed with proper grammar and spelling.

It continues with:

These are real, genuine non accredited degrees that include Bachelors, Masters andDoctorate degrees.

I'm guessing that they hoped I didn't notice the "non accredited" portion in that sentence.

This little known secret has been kept quiet for years. The opportunity exists dueto (sic) a legal loophole allowing some established colleges to award degrees at theirdiscretion (sic).

Yes, I believe that they are the same sort that it given out to major donors and celebrity speakers. I suppose I should at least concede the honesty - it's much cheaper to buy a fake degree for $2,500 than to get an honorary degree (which is just as valid) by donating $250,000.


Intelligent Design in schools

On a forum, someone referenced this article. Alas, my search fu was weak, and I kept finding the same article posted in many different places. I found rebuttals and derision, but never did find the original quote.

Now, aside from the fact that we don't have the original question, the article is written with a leading tone. Consider, for a second, the following two questions:

Mr President, do you think that schools should teach Intelligent Design?


Mr President, do you think that schools should teach about Intelligent Design?

Both can lead to his answer, that "“I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . .You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes.”

Some have decried this as an issue of separation of church and state. There are several problems with this, first among them that Intelligent Design (hereafter ID) does not require a religious point of reference. After all, since you are positing the existence of a guiding hand in the evolutionary process, a hand for which there is no evidence or proof, there is no difference whether the hand be God, Thor, Allah or superintelligent shades of blue. Second, children need to learn the history and philosophies of various subjects - just as a class on astronomy should go through the "earth-centered universe" concept, so too should students learning about evolution learn about Lamark and ID.

Unfortunately, too many critics equate ID with Creation Science (hereafter CS). But, there is a considerable difference between the two. Aside from the obvious one (that ID often features, but does not require, a divine entity), most ID proponents accept the idea of evolution, considering it to be the mechanism through which all of nature was created. The Catholic Church is a good example of this - the official Catholic line is that evolution occurs, but that God is the guiding force behind it. See, acceptance of good scientific theory, yet maintaining theologic beliefs.

I will readily concede that ID is not science. By definition, it (like any other philosophy) cannot be proven or disproven. Does this mean that it ought not be mentioned in a science class?

I have no problems with the mention of ID in a sidebar or blue box or lecture. Mention the philisophical belief, inform the students that it is beyond the purview of the course, and continue onwards. But some people are so caught up in the debate that they have come to believe that the merest mention of ID is equal to teaching it.

In a blog (on the Huffingtonpost), someone failed irony. In civics, students should learn about fascism, monarchy, etc. And, in a good science class, you should mention the early notions of astronomy, chemistry, or physics. The red-shift of stars, the motion of the planets, the nature of the sun - these are fairly well understood. The origin of life is less so, and mentioning a philosophy which is not in contradiction with accepted scientific theory does not warrant this kind of vitriol.

PS - I really enjoyed this article.

The examples we set

I was driving back from Chicago today, and had just crossed the border over into Indiana. Now, most of I-94 in that area is under construction, with a speed limit of 45. Without divulging my real speed, let it suffice to say that (1) no one was going 45; and (2) I was doing the same speed as the majority of people on the road.

While I am passing a semi (slowly, but passing), a gentleman (using the term very loosely) pulls up behind me. Close behind me. Very close behind me. Close enough that I can no longer see his hood ornament.

Now, remember that we are all going 45 mph. (Honest.) He is less than 3 feet from my rear bumper, and is starting to gesture angrily because the 2-3 mph that I am going faster than a semi just isn't fast enough. I have a sleeping son in the car, and a wife who is trying to nap. Normally, when someone wants to get around me, I'm fine with speeding up or changing lanes in order to accomodate him.

Not today. And it's not because I'm being a jerk - it's because, quite honestly, him getting around me isn't going to make a lick of difference - there's really not that much room in front of me, and there's not a lot of room for me to squeeze into the other lane. Glancing under the truck, I can see that the far right lane is pretty open - he can drop speed a tad, slide behind the big rig, and easily get ahead of me.

Instead he's persisting. And he keeps running up and dropping back - he often is getting close enough that I am thinking that I should be yelling "Brace for impact". I am fairly certain that he flashed his lights, but I couldn't see them most of the time either. So, I quite trying to pass the truck - I'm going to slow down and pull in behind the semi. Then he can go around me. I can't brake (because he will hit me if I do so - he can't react in time), I pop my hazard lights and start to decelerate naturally.

Interestingly enough, the semi has basically matched my speed by this point. I think the trucker had been paying attention to this little drama, and decided that the guy behind me is a tool, and doesn't need the encouragement.

Unfortunately, he pulls in behind the semi, forcing me to abort my plan - but he also can't race ahead in the right lane, since it's been filling up. I shut off the hazards, and move up to the next open spot in front of the semi. He can't take advantage of this, since several cars behind him rush to fill the gap he left, and when he finally can pass me, he races past, immediately cuts in front of me and slams over two lanes - to exit. Imagine. If he had stayed where he was, or gone to the right, he'd have been there sooner.

As he goes past, he shoots me a dirty look, and I'm sure that he was complaining to the teenage boy (his son?) in the passenger seat, about how unreasonable some people can be when you get right on their rear bumper, flash your lights at them, and act agressively.

I do wish I had known when he needed to exit. I'm sure that he got so worked up in trying to get me to move that he wasn't paying attention - he could have followed me all the way into Michigan.