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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hammertime, Right Wing Nut Job

Or am I?

With a scale of +10 being most 'right' economically and most authoritarian on social issues, I fell:

"Economic Left/Right: 3.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 0.77 "

I actually fall very close to John Kerry on their chart...which makes me very suspicious of the creators.

Still, it's entertaining for five minutes.

Try it:
Political Compass

Hat Tip: Eric.

Why Ward Churchill Matters

Despite the misgivings of The Moderate Liberal, there is a reason that bloggers on the right are highlighting Ward Churchill.

Unlike the bloggers of the Left, who seem to think that Jeff Gannon, aka Guckert, aka gay prostitute with a press pass (easily obtained by anyone) is a big fish on the right (Jeff who????? Talon what????), we don't feel that Professor Churchill is any big fish at all. What he is, is simply an indictor of the problem with the pond.

Churchill is a not-very-rare example of the problem on college campuses, where, devoid of any real critical oversight, academians pile their political rhetoric on their students and force them to regurgitate it. I had one of my students tell me that when he wrote a paper disagreeing that reporters should be present on Special Forces raids, the class was informed that if a paper was ever received again "with theories like that, it will get a zero." This is too common, and often protected by using the students poor writing ability as an excuse (see below discussion on public education for why this is easy). However, I've never had student who wrote a glowing expose of Che Guevara get an "F".

The problem is that academia is the only place where left-wingers can force people to listen to and agree with their moonbat ideas without being in Greenwich Village, San Francisco, Hollywood, or Democratic Underground. Possibly a significant reason for this is that these people have seldom ever had a job that requires real world results. If you don't believe me, log into a univeristy website. Then go to their college of Humanities. Then go to one of the following departments: Government, History, Social Science, Sociology, or Geography. Click on the link to the faculty. Then check out some faculty resumes (also known as cirriculum vitae). More than half will basically read 'undergrad, grad school, PhD, college professor'. Some may have been a lawyer or worked for a year at a counseling clinic. However, for the most part, they've never done anything but live academia...

...which is why they remain so disconnected to the real world and real people.

If you think I'm way out of line, simply do the above exercise, find all the work, and send me the name of the school in the comments. I look forward to being wrong.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Barry Bonds is a Big Fat Loser

...anda whiny punk.

Barry says, "I take repsonsibility for my action, I'm an adult", then goes on to say that no one should point out that he has been CHEATING. He blames racism, reporters, Jose Canseco, and anyone but himself.

Barry, we don't care if you are black. It's not 1950 in Birmingham. We care because, through your steriod-abusing actions and current attitude about it, you tell everyone that it is OK to cheat. You point a finger at others and say, "You have problems too." That's like saying, "You have nose hair." The statement is true, but it has no relevance to the discussion.

When journalists were cheating (Jayson Blair, Dan Rather, Eason Jordan) they are castigated. Why should you be exempt? Why is it OK to call Canseco a spade, but not you? Because you are a better ballplayer? You seem to think so.

My son used to like Barry Bonds. Not anymore, because even a child knows that cheating is wrong. Too bad that Barry still doesn't get it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Big vs Small G

Liberals = Big Government
Conservatives = Small Government



Check out today's TNR piece by Jonathan Chait. (annoying free registration required - unlike National Review) Its very well written, and I don't know that I have any issues with his definitions, honestly.

Mark and Eric may, though...

Evidence that it's not any worse

We often hear it said that things are getting worse, or worse then they ever have been, etc. Sometimes it is conservatives decrying the decaying morals of the world, other times it is liberals decrying the oppression of human rights. At least from my side, I have found pretty clear evidence that things are bad, and have been bad for a long time.

"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."

Sound like something Dobson would say? Or Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association? Maybe Ramesh Ponnuru, editor at National Review? Nope.

Try the Illustrated London News, published in the January 13th, 1906 edition, by G.K Chesterton.

Theology Tuesday

I've decided to do a regular bit of Theological philosiphizin' on Tuesdays. It may not generate a lot of discussion, as I plan on staying out of the political arena (since Christ did the same). Here is the first one:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
-St. James, Chapter 1, Verse 27

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 25, Verses 31-30

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 7, Verses 21-23

Allegedly, the rift between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church is largely because of the perceived requirement for action for salvation from our sins. Luther declared that faith alone was sufficient for salvation, but the Pope proclaimed in the Counter Reformation that faith AND works were necessary. Protestants claim that St. Paul has said that works do not save, and Catholics claim that St. James said that there is no faith without works. Even aside past papal infallibility, apostolic succession, transubstantiation and Mariology, no argument is considered to split the two more.

But it need not be so.

St. Paul does say that works do not save...and he is right.

St. James does say that faith without works is dead...and he is right.

Moreover, Christ proclaims that the righteous will be identified by their works, and those who merely proclaim, "Lord, Lord" will be cast into the outer darkness.

The key is found in the above verse from St. James: pure religion. Religion is the practice of faith, its very expression. Luther wished to let us all know that Christ alone, and faith in Him, saves us. The Church seeks to keep us from the complacency that plagues the Protestant churches of praying a prayer, claiming to be a Christian, then never acting. The love of Christ, upon which our faith rests, constrains us to love in action.

The good news of Christ is that He came to save sinners, of whom I am chief. This knowledge, in my mind, heart, soul and strength, drives me ever to His service by serving others. If you are not so constrained, examine yourself closely, and see if you have the faith of eternal life, or only a dead faith that leads to the same.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Will the Moderate Democrats please stand up?

Here's your chance:

Carpe Bonum features this nugget from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D),NY:

"They've had a very very direct, aggressive attack on the, on the media, and the way it's handled. Probably the most flagrant example of that is the way they set up Dan Rather. Now, I mean, I have my own beliefs about how that happened: it originated with Karl Rove, in my belief, in the White House. They set that up with those false papers."

Read more at Carpe Bonum. When you're done, ask yourself, "Will the Democrats distance themselves from this man, like they should have distanced themselves from Michael Moore?" If the Republicans can bail on Alan Keyes, why can't the Democrats do it in cases like this?

I'll tell you why - desperation. They think they need to stick together, at all costs.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Education - Is it a fundamental right?

I had two posts that have generated a lot of discussion this past week, and they both were about money! One of them was about gambling, but the one I hope to continue a little higher on the page here is about taxes.

It started with a discussion of the system of taxation, but moved into discussion on the use of taxes - and therefore their validity. The comments section of that post show the previous wisdom dispensed. Here are my questions for consideration:

In an agrarian society, education was not necessary for success. As we moved into an industrialized society, it became more important, but still not critical. Now, as we are in the information age, with more advanced technology in every almost every facet of the workforce, isn't education much more important than ever before?

If its importance has increased, has it increased to the point where universally available education is inarguably beneficial to society?

If it is such a benefit, should our tax dollars be used to provide it? Why or why not? What should they be used for?

I thought I had a grip on this, but now I'm not so sure.

Purple USA

Check out the latest over at The Moderate Liberal.

He effectively lays out, using discourse based upon a recent poll by "The Economist", what I hope many of us understand - that the vast majority of Americans are not 'sharply divided'. The few of us who don't get cable news and avoid both Democratic Underground and Free Republic already knew it!

Offended? Get a Grip.

"The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted is absurd. So too is the notion that people should have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted. A fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other’s positions. (But they don’t shoot.)"
-Salman Rushdie

Read more.

Hat Tip: My Pet Jawa

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Common Thread in Super Nanny

As I've mentioned before, I get the 'opportunity' to sit through "Super Nanny" on Monday nights. Believe it or not, I actually like it - unlike the show which proceeds its, "Ho-in Around with Some Cute Guys", AKA, The Bachelorette.

The past episode had perhaps the worst child yet - a 2+ year old with absolutely no respect for any human being. One of the biggest differences in this case was that the mother was actually attempting some discipline - but they were pretty ineffective. For example, she would put him in his room, for 30 minutes (30 minutes! It is a 2 year old! Five is enough!) and had to hold the door closed the whole time. If she felt that it wasn't successful, she would grab the boy and essentially pin him down for the time period she selected (which I can't recall). Additionally, she seldom praised the boy, violating every reasonable child-rearing procedure I know. Of course, no single or double swat on the behind was ever considered.

However, while Super Nanny did her usual great job of ironing things out, I noticed that every single episode has something in common. Well, a couple things are in common - faily well-off families who can't control their kids - but one was glaring. In every case, there is an uninvolved father. He was there, he mayhave even occasionally contributed, but as a whole, the fathers were passive and detached from the children.

My current courses this, my last, semester include Marriage and Family Therapy. What should be clear, but often isn't, is that families with improper roles work poorly. If there is a detached family member (who is often the father) the rest of the family skews as well. I would propose that not only do the detached fathers have a lot to do with these particulary poorly behaved kids on the show, but they always will have negative effects, no matter how hard mom tries.

We'll see if the Super Nanny shows a family without a parent operating in an improper role. That would falsify my position. I don't expect it to happen. We'll be watching, though!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Chris Rock, Abortion and Why Women are on the Losing End of 'Choice'

Blatantly plagarized from National Review

Rock On
Chris Rock hits on a profound truth.

By Dorinda Bordlee

It's time for all of us in the pro-life movement to learn to appreciate the power of political satire. Comedian Chris Rock, slated to host the Oscars this month, is being accused of promoting abortion.

"Abortion, it's beautiful, it's beautiful abortion is legal. I love going to an abortion rally to pick up women, cause you know they are f*!@*%g," Rock said during his club routine.

Whether Rock is pro-life or pro-choice, whether he intended to use satire or really believes what he said, is beside the point. What's "beautiful" is that Chris Rock has exposed a profound side effect of legalized abortion — the sexual mistreatment of women.

It's been over 30 years since the United States Supreme Court began our nation's social experiment in legalized abortion. Millions of post-abortive women and their tragic stories prove that Alice Paul was right when she said "abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women."

Who was Alice Paul, you ask? She was the original drafter of the Equal Rights Amendment before it was hijacked by radical feminists. Alice Paul was one of our lead suffragette foremothers who fought along side Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to establish women's right to vote.

As Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon has noted, "to earlier feminists who had fought for the vote and for fair treatment in the workplace, it had seemed obvious that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women."

So here we are, five years into the new millennium, and a comedian has the nerve to say out loud what men across America know full well: that legalized abortion is great for their sex lives; that abortion on demand makes women into sex objects with the full consent of the highest court in the land; and that if their sexual use of a woman results in the unfortunate side effect of a pregnancy, then $300 and their "kindhearted" support of the woman's "right to choose" will take care of the problem.

The real problem is that women have gotten the raw end of this deal. Roe has ruined romance. Every woman's deepest desire to love and be loved has been distorted into a license to use and be used. Women have paid with their bodies and their souls. Abandoned emotionally and financially by the men they loved, and moved by profound grief at the loss of their children, they stand in front of crowds with signs that say "I regret my abortion."

Comedic satire may seem at first blush to be a harsh way to draw attention to the fact that legalized abortion allows men to sexually prey on women. But in our culture of entertainment it makes the point well.

We need not throw rocks at Chris Rock for having the audacity to expose how abortion has impacted men's view of women. He's crass, he's crude, he's vulgar — but he has hit the mark.

— Dorinda C. Bordlee is senior legislative counsel with Americans United for Life, a national bioethics law firm.

I think "the real problem" is more than just that "women have gotten the raw end of this deal", but it's another negative aspect of state-sanctioned infanticide that gets ignored.

The Pentagon was Never Hit by A Plane!!!

Ever heard that one? How about the one about the WTC being brought down by demolitions?

Popular Mechanics addresses these and more.

Hat Tip: A Western Heart

A Kerry Supporter Bashes the UN

I am not an Andrew Sullivan fan, and knew he was in the bag for Kerry, just like the "Log Cabin Republicans" were. However, he penned an excellent article on the UN in the Times of London, which can be found here at A Western Heart.


Today's Evolutionary Stumper

From National Geographic.

"The nearly one-million-year difference between African and Asian fossils, along with the more primitive features of the early African fossils, contributed to the idea that Homo ergaster and Homo erectus were two species. "

Get that? Since they were so far apart, they MUST have been different species.

Except this one doesn't follow the rule.

Examine the two heads in this picture (3rd row, 2nd from left) and you can see the vast amount of variation within a single species at the exact same time.

Now look at the skulls in Talk Origins comparison chart. See the problem with considering morphology = phylogeny? Just because I can line up a series of forks and spoons in a manner which shows how they are similar, it doesn't mean they come from each other.

That is, of course, a simplification of only one of the several evidences for evolution. It is a big one, though. Another would be the dating of the finds - but since scientists still can't date Java Man (according to Talk Origins), how accurate is it? Answers in Genesis doesn't think it is at all.

There is little to be lost by critically examining the issue. Both sides have changed their positions on specific details while sticking to the basic ideas. I'm not sure either can be proven.

I found the link to the story on Drudge, but he doesn't need the traffic.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Two True Liberals - But How?

I ran across Eric's Blog through circumstances that are too lengthy to report and do not make me look any better anyway. The post I linked to is "Why I'm a Liberal".

Contrast that with Mark's "Why Moderate Liberal"? You can see that they come from the same starting point - liberty - but end up in different places. Perhaps the inspiration for their love for liberty is the difference.

America is awesome. Do you think the 'democracy' in Iran allows such diversity of thought? Not a chance.

Tax Cuts for the Rich II

Below parable aside, I had been considering what many left-learners had pointed out: that reducing taxes on dividend income and money earned through investment is a tax cut for the rich. I dismissed them initially because, of course, they neglected to mention that more people are in the 'no taxes' zone at the bottom of the income table than ever before, and that EVERYONE received a tax cut in their payroll taxes.

However, the argument is not without merit, and I erred by dismissing it. I have given it some thought.

There must be some incentive for investment. It doesn't matter who does the investing, and in fact, more middle class people are investing than ever before, which takes some of the punch out of the 'for the rich' line. Why must there be incentive?

Those rich people, those evil corporations - they are the employers of our country. If they lose money, their business does not get the capital it needs to grow. There are few statements more foolish than those which decry tax breaks to corporations. That's how they hire people, fool! If they have more profit at the end of the year, the capitalist system drives them to expand their business to make more money, which leads to more hiring.

I'm interested in other viewpoints. I invest, but I expect to draw under 50k this year (and maybe half of that next year - when I won't be investing!) I say that to point out that I am not protecting my own interests, but honestly think that this is an intellectual conclusion - that tax incentives are the best means of government spurring the economy.

Tax Cuts for the Rich

A common internet parable follows. I saw it in National Review a year or two ago, I believe.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut).

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What's Your Secret?

I stumbled upon this nifty website o' art as I was packing up to leave. I was enthralled and read it all. Check it out:


It's a log of postcards sent to the author with people's secrets on them.

"Two PostSecret cards (that I know of) were stolen from the display. The first one read, "I like white girls but hate white people." The second said, "Shamefully, some lonely nights I would willingly exchange my BA degree for better hair." This card included an image of long blonde hair, loosely curled.

No one can say for sure why these two were stolen (other secrets are much more obscene and/or malicious). Perhaps not all secrets are held by individuals. Maybe ethnic, gender, religious, political and other social groups collectively hold their own private ideas and views. And even though one member might be willing to share one of these secrets publicly; other members of the same group might act to suppress it."


Sharia (Islamic Law). In Canada.

I am not kidding.

Hat Tip: My Pet Jawa

Gambling's Effects on Family Assets

From my most recent NPR commentary:

A few years ago, I was driving from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Fort Rucker, Alabama. Two of my friends were driving with me…each in a separate vehicle. It was mid-December, and the route took us into the midst of a blizzard, and my friend Lou and I stopped in the town of Metropolis, Illinois.

While we weren’t comfortable driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour, we felt safe enough driving around town. Well, after seeing the giant Superman statue and the two restaurants, we decided to go back to the hotel to ask the clerk about the night life. She recommended the riverboat casino, so we headed on down.

I had never been in a casino of any kind, before. I expected a glitzy place with high rollers, well dressed men and women sipping drinks and laughing, happy faces of well-heeled people who were having a good time with their money. I expected to be out of place in my boots and jeans. After all, isn’t that what it looks like in casinos in the movies?

Well, the movies lie. I didn’t see any high rollers, or well dressed men and women. I saw people who were dressed like me – jeans, works boots, flannel shirts on men, and women dressed not much differently. These weren't rich folks spending their excess cash, they were working men and women spending their paycheck! The mood of the place in general was pretty somber. The faces of the people gambling, whether they were playing blackjack, craps, roulette or video terminal slots, were typically vacant, or in some cases, pained, as they gambled their money away.

It struck me then, and sticks with me today – gambling establishments steal from the poor and the working class. While those people with money make investments that promise some sort of return, lower and middle class workers throw it away at casinos, hoping that they might win a ‘big one’. Where should that paycheck money have gone? Furniture? Appliances? Food? Rent? Electricity? Heat? It became painfully clear that casinos do not help their neighbors – they steal from them.

Once again this year, the gambling and horse racing industries are pushing for addition of slot machines at tracks, and maybe casinos, in Kentucky. They’ll use attractive arguments about how the taxes will fund education, and how Kentucky loses money to places like Indiana and West Virginia, and how we would keep it in the Commonwealth. They’ll also push for a referendum, because they know a huge ad campaign can convince Kentuckians into an expansion of gambling. But those ads won’t mention that the money that goes to gambling would have gone to real things…things bought from Kentucky’s businesses….things that help Kentucky’s families.

That night in Metropolis, Illinois, I won $125, but Lou lost $250. That’s the way it works. Except for the casino, gambling is always a losing venture for everyone…gamblers, their families, and the businesses where the money would otherwise have been spent.

The Far Left and Militant Islam - Bedfellows?

Two items on this Ward Churchill fellow:

One, my school newspaper has an editorial claiming that his "Free Speech rights are being abridged". Listen up, Ward (or Natalie Means - Dixie Chick - or Linda Rondstadt). The government has not oppressed you for your speech. Your fellow citizens have reacted to your inanity. Maybe you should take high school civics class again to be reminded of what free speech is protected from. It is not a license to say anything, anytime. It is a prohibition on the government. That's it.

If you haven't heard about him, check here at My Pet Jawa. He is a radical leftist who supports radical Islam through his actions. Not only were his remarks fairly repugnant, he has lied repeatedly about his Indian heritage (it seems to be non-existent) and is under investigation for academic fraud.

Sound familiar? Thankfully, Dr. Shackleford also has a post today on the next easy example of the bizzare hand holding by the Far Left and Militant Islam - Lynne Stewart. I already had read her tale in National Review a few months ago - she even made the cover. Congratulations, Lynne. While NPR played your tearful "I only did what a lawyer is supposed to do" during Morning Edition, we were all thinking, "If lawyers are supposed to help terrorist leaders communicate with their followers and make press releases for them, even after they have signed their name agreeing not to do so, then we REALLY need to get rid of some lawyers. Lots of them. Today."

Hammertime does not promoe violence against lawyers, since he even has a lawyer friend. I can assure you that Ms. Stewart's actions are NOT what a lawyer is supposed to do in that situation. Here's a great quote from her.

UPDATE: Ace's article is even better than Dr. Rusty's - but also more vulgar. There are times when I think I'd like to talk like that about these things. I even did, on a trip to and from Virginia, while listening to Rush and Hannity. Good thing I can't get them on the radio here in the holler.

UPDATE 2: Check out David Horowitz's Front Page articles here and here for thoughtful commentary on the conclusions and run up to the trial, respectively.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Reason # 852 that the UN Should Be Discarded

Richard over at Dead Republican Presidents likes to lay a whup on the UN from time to time, and I heartily encourage it. I don't usually post about it here, but I ran across this nugget while reading the December 13th edition of National Review.

The article was discussiing the possibilities of an increased chance for peace in the Middle East with the elections for the Palestinian Authority. While discussing the methods that Arafat used to maintain his control in 'elections', and how that would change, David Pryce-Jones wrote:

"After Arafat's death, the UN flew its flag at half mast, a mark of respect it did not show to Ronald Reagan."

We can't leave that 'organization' soon enough for my liking.

Master of Science

While that may have been my self-appointed moniker previously, it now applies in a more official sense. I successfully defended my psychopharmacological research yesterday to the faculty - praise the Lord! I was excited to learn that I can get either an MS or an MA for the degree, and will be choosing the MS to go with my BS in Chemistry.

Psychology is a squishy science, if it can be called a science at all. What drew me to neuropsychology for a research interest was its relative objectivity, compared to social, developmental, or personality psychology. Measurements of actual biological or chemical actions or reactions are a lot less open to interpretation than the feelings or memories of people, that's for sure.

I've learned a lot while taking this degree - which was the point. While I will be completing courses on marriage & family therapy as well as learning through May, it looks good for a degree and likely selection as graduate student of the year for the department. My politics make it harder, but enough of the faculty try to be impartial that I think I'll squeak through - Lord willing!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Mammal, Mammal"

"Their names are called, they raise a paw - the bat, the cat, dolphin and dog, koala bear and hog"
-They Might Be Giants

I don't know what inspired me to do it. After all, I had decided that since I had a grip on the evolution/creation thing, that I wasn't going to bother with it for a while. Randomly, it seems, I was reading the 'talk origins' evidence for evolution stuff. They like to use words like "clearly" and "obviously" when it is no such thing - but that isn't the point. I saw that a Dr. Gish was quoted as saying that there were no transitional forms between cows and whales, and then those transitional forms were miraculously discovered in the next few months. As this was an argument I was familiar with, I wanted to see these transitional forms.

I'm busy, so I only looked at one. It is in the October, 2001 issue of Nature, and is the partially (well, mostly, really) complete fossil found in Jamaica. I looked at the drawing on the Talk Origins site and noticed which parts were 'extrapolated' - meaning that they were not actually found, but the fellows in charge of the find think that they make sense. I looked at it and thought, "The feet and the tail are extrapolated? Wouldn't they be pretty important to the argument?" It brought to mind Lucy's feet and hands, which are also 'extrapolated' in their museum display, and also are important to the conclusion. Here's a neat article about how Dr. Zihlman (an evolutionist) thinks that Lucy is not what she is purported to be. That's not the subject of the article, just an aside in the last section. Zihlman still thinks we came from monkeys (gross generalization, but you get it), but that Lucy is probably a compilation of different species - plus some bonus material! Note: The fact that Lucy may be a pygmy chimp does not invalidate the basic argument

Then I looked up some hippo bones. Because this 'transitional form' was found on tiny Jamaica, I'd want a small hippo. Thankfully, the Madagascar pygmy hippo (extinct) was available, though it was larger - just like Madagascar is a lot larger than Jamaica.

What are the major differences between the pygmy hippo and the 'transitional cow/whale'? Feet and tail. Now, there are certainly some differences in the skull - but as I watched the UK game last night, I noticed that Shagari Alleyne (7'3" black man) had a skull that is significantly different than mine. In fact, it's a lot different than the guy he is stuffing in that pic!

As I am a college faculty member, I have access to online journals, and was able to read the entirety of the description and subsequent conclusions of this cow/whale. The evidence that this critter swam like any manatee is essentially non-existent, but claimed to be 'likely'. The claim is that it swam like an otter, although the bone structures in the rear are much more different than the hippo would be with the cow/whale.

Look, I don't have the level of knowledge of Ken Hamm, but this thing looks like a little hippo - the kind that would live on a little island.

The fossil record remains evolution's best proof - and its weakest link. I'm sticking to UK hoops. What a game last night!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Schiavo - Attempted Murder?

This is a scary twist to the saga of a woman whose husband wants her dead.

It could just be nutty conspiracy theorists. I trust that the truth comes out - but the husband's actions that we know do not lend us to believe that this is an unreasonable possibility.

Hat Tip:My Pet Jawa


If you are interested in seeing what this site (or any site) looks like with an, er, ethnic flair, click here:

Team Hammer au Gangsta.

Hi-larious. Not for young viewers, though.

Conservatives are Attacked by the Press - Worldwide

The press is complaining about the government. They are saying that the nation is becoming a one-party nation. They say that the chief executive has such a grip on his party that no one will depart the party line. They say that Americans are oppressed by having such conservative leaders in charge.

In Australia.

Check it out, and see that the press is liberal everywhere. It's not always bad, but it seems to be that way in free societies.

Should I Bother?

Probably not. Normally, I don't respond to characterizations of me that are silly. That's why I stopped contributing to the site in my blogroll "The Village Gate", where those on the other side of the aisle would call me names instead of dealing with the facts. However, I just noticed that, buried in the middle of a genuine issue post, a fellow blogger whom I greatly respect referred to me as "He is a terribly misguided conservative enslaved to tradition, unable to see the value in loving, caring couples different than himself".

Let's make this clear: disapproval of behavior IN NO WAY indicates a lack of respect, love or regard for another human being. It does not indicate an inability to see value in a person. I love my parents, and they both have behaviors of which I disapprove. Don't people get it? I don't have to agree with male anal sex and homosexual marriage to love my brother-in-law! Get a freaking grip!

There are those who hate gays. There are those who disapprove of homosexual behavior and disparage homosexuals. Then there are followers of Christ, who love our neighbor, no matter what he or she may do, do not approve of sin, but do not stick our finger in their chests and tell them - unless asked. Then we tell them lovingly, with no finger involved at all.

Rant complete. I now return you to your regularly scheduled, slightly less emotional pastings.

Super Nanny and Dr. Dobson

There is a neat show on Monday nights called "Super Nanny", in which an English nanny comes into an out-of-control home and sets them straight. It's a neat show, although Springer-esque in that it makes you feel good about your family because you are less messed up than those on the show!

Last night the Super Nanny visited a family with two four-year old girls who were berserk. They hit and kicked their parents, particularly their mother (kicking in the stomach, slapping her in the face, etc), called them names like "butt pie" and "stinky butt", and talked back almost constantly by yelling in Mom's face: "you'd better back off" with a finger in her face, "get me a drink now!" from the bed, etc, etc, etc. It was, by far, the worst set of kids to date on the show.

Super Nanny was horrified and got to work establishing discipline and order in the house. She uses many of Dr. Dobson's methods - structured time for the family to share together, improving communication and respect, and active participation of both parents. Super Nanny (of course) never advocates spanking - she prefers the 'time out' method, or "naughty corner/pad/room" which tends to be effective. Last night was a bit different.

The girls would not stay in the corner, nor would they stay in bed. Their parents had to put them back in bed 11 times in 45 minutes - and that was with the Super Nanny there to help. When she left, it was much worse. Did the girls stay in bed eventually - yes. But what did they learn?

The good thing they learned is that their parents were going to stick to their guns. But what did they learn about open defiance? Were the girls any worse off having to go to bed than they were before? If they were already told to go to the naughty corner, why not fight with Mom? After all, she'll just place me back in the corner I am supposed to stay in anyway! It's a win-win! I can fight and argue, and I might get my way, but if I don't, I'm no worse off than before!

That's why spanking is necessary. When a child openly defies your directive to go to the corner, there has to be a consequence besides telling her to go to the corner again. There are rules for spanking that HAVE to be kept for it to work right, however (from the Strong-Willed Child).

1)Define Boundaries Before They Are Enforced. The Super Nanny says the same. The child must be told explicitly what it is they can or cannot do, and what the consequence will be otherwise. Anything less is cheating the child.

2)When Challenged, Respond With Confident Decisiveness. Super Nanny says the same. The child must know that YOU are in charge, not the child. Children want order and structure, and the conclusions to the Super Nanny show.

3) Know the Difference Between Willful Defiance and Childish Responsibility. Super Nanny agrees. Forgetting to take out the trash is not defiance. Your child telling you to "Talk to the hand!" is. Defiance is the only offense that earns a spanking.

4)Reassure and Teach After the Confrontation is Over. Super Nanny agrees again. After the punishment, the child should apologize for their misbehavior, and hugs and communication about why we should do the right thing are critical to the process.

5)Avoid Impossible Demands. An early Super Nanny episode showed this, where a Mom wanted her little children to keep their rooms basically spotless. You shouldn't punish a child for wetting the bed or not being potty trained when he is only one, or for poor grades if your child is incapable of high academic achievement. Unresolvable conflict crushes the human spirit.

6) Let Love Be Your Guide! No parent is perfect, but if you keep your love for your child foremost (not your desire for him to like you!), you will do ok.

As a person who suffered physical abuse as a child, I know what negative turns corporal punishment can take, and vow never to do it with my kids. Don't make spanking an act of anger, not should it be for anything except open defiance. However, avoiding it altogether hurts your child instead of helping her.

Dobson - A Deeper Look

The Moderate Liberal directed his readers to a Wikipedia entry for James Dobson, and included some quotes and commentary here. On top of that, he even asked me to present my thoughts on it! Here is where I started:

As I am at work, Dare to Discipline is not with me, so I stopped by the doesn't even have a page 6 with text on it. Or a page 7 with text, for that matter. I read the first two chapters and couldn't find those, either. I'll check my edition at home, which is updated. (I then discovered that I do not own this book - the double-shot book I have is "The Strong Willed Child" and "Parenting Isn't For Cowards".) However, as Dobson has mellowed with age (comparing the new SWC to the old one shows this), I doubt he would have suddenly decided that his D2D needed to be more stern!

The following paragraph has a quote that I could not find about a child 'demanding to be spanked'. In Dobson's chart he draws depicting the levels of consequence, one swat is desribed as a "terrible day". Two swats is the highest it goes, which explains why he says "two or three swats should be sufficient". He also details that one whould not 'lash or whip the child'.

Since I don't have an issue with the authority section, I didn't look it up. However, that would be in the adolescent section of the book, which leads with "A Teenager is Often Deperately in Need of Respect and Dignity. Give Him These Gifts!" Not mentioned in the Wiki, of course.

I have read "The Strong Willed Child" and would not characterize it as ever portraying the child as the enemy of the parent, ever. Nor does "win decisively" mean "hit the child". An example is when my child argues about a restriction, I increase it. The child is not spanked, and he loses, and therefore learns that continued resistance to authority has negative consequences. Perhaps you think I should teach him to argue until he is blue in the face - insted I provide him with a known boundary that he tends to not cross. He does get to voice his opinion on the issue, once. When he has said his piece, we acknowledge it and make the final decision.

The last comment in the thread (on crying) has no reference - certainly another fake.

In summary, Wikipedia is worthless. I have students who cite Wikipedia on their research reports, and they are almost always filled with errors. That's the danger of the Wiki. This particular one of Dobson has only about 20% of it cited truthfully. I think that the Wiki format attracts a certain kind of person, generally relativists, who think that they are qualified to produce 'facts' - kind of like college professors!

The next post will illustrate Dobson's point with a recent experience some of you may have shared with Mrs Hammer and I.

Monday, February 07, 2005

24 Things

You know what happens when you are away from the office for a week?


Due to my lack of time to post today, I am linking to a one of my first posts, titled "24 Things You Must Believe to Be a Democrat".

Try not to laugh too hard - or cry if that is your current party of choice.

Some pics are down today but should be back up tomorrow, due to server maintenance.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Out through Sunday

I left home Tuesday morning and, except for a brief time on Friday, will not be able to really post until Sunday. See you then!