Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Don't do me any favors."

Is Patrick Fitzgerald really helping Robert Blagojevich? I'm not so sure.

He says it's "in the interests of justice".

My speculation is that once the charges against Robert are dropped they can make him testify against his brother. There is a constitutional right against self-incrimination, and a marital testimonial privilege, but I'm not aware of any constitutional right not to testify against your brother.

We'll see.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

This is the most exciting moment in sports history. As a hereditary Giants fan I still get excited and a little choked up watching this, even though I wasn't even born (by a little bit) when it happened.

Bobby Thomson, 1923-2010

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 16, 2010


Don't you get tired of hearing what passes as a miracle for these soft-headed people?

Today's miracle: the plane crash on an island off the coast of Colombia: the plane was struck by lightning, crashed, broke up into three pieces, and only one person died, an old woman who probably had a heart attack

The Caribbean island's governor, Pedro Gallardo, said it was extraordinary that almost everyone survived, and joined a chorus calling it a miracle. "We have to give thanks to God," he said.

Did it occur to him to wonder, if God had the power to save 126 people, why didn't he have the power to save that one last old lady?

Or maybe he just didn't feel like saving 127 people today?

Maybe God's just doing the math: let this one old lady die, who's probably going to die soon anyway, so he can concentrate on saving the 3.5 million kids in Pakistan who are at risk because of the floods that . . .

well, wait a minute! Couldn't he have just stopped those floods, too?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crazy from the fringe, chapter 3

Well, maybe this should really be titled "Stupid from the fringe", but I think it's consistent with previous entries.

Have you heard of Conservapedia? It's a right-wing alternative to the standard online sources of information created by Andy Schlafly, Phyllis's boy, to protect conservatives from having their minds polluted by facts, which they might find if they were subjected to the unfiltered truth.

I haven't spent a lot of time there, but I can assure you that there is no shortage of laughs if you want to delve in. For instance, they devote over a thousand words on the topic "Obama is possibly the first Muslim President".

Our topic today, though, is in the realm of science. For instance, they present an extensive discussion of "Counterexamples to evolution", complete with a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape.

Or, the topic Josh covered this past week: Einstein was all wrong. That E=mc^2 stuff? It's complete nonsense. And how do we know? Because the Bible tells us so.

Schlafly also points to the Bible as a reason that Einstein's theory must be wrong:

9. The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54.

Conservapedia defines "action-at-a-distance" as "Action at a distance consists of affecting a distant body instantaneously. At the atom level, this is known as "non-locality." In non-confusing terms, that indicates the ability to cause something to happen instantaneously in another location (i.e., faster than the speed of light). Since Jesus could, reportedly, do this, thus Einstein is wrong. Schlafly's evidence is John 4:46-54, in which Jesus reportedly cured someone's son just by saying it had happened.

If you're wondering, like Conservapedia, the genius behind this particular post appears to be Andy-boy himself.

Oh yes--Andy is also a professor at Eagle Forum University, and their classes are absolutely free, so if you want to hear more of his wisdom than you can find at Conservapedia, make sure to check out his scholarship on "Principles of Microeconomics" or "Evolution Fallacies"

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More right-wing intolerance

The latest commentary on the Islamic center in lower Manhattan:

Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the American Family Association, wrote a blog post yesterday on the AFA's site arguing that the United States should have "no more mosques, period."

It's worth pointing out that the American Family Association is not a fringe group. They're right in the mainstream of the right-wing "values voter" movement.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

News from Alaska

Am I the only one?

Literally my first thought when I heard that Ted Stevens was killed when the plane he was riding in, owned by a local telecom company, crashed, was "Live by graft, die by graft."

Note: We don't know that graft had anything to do with it, but his life did seem to have a certain, shall we say, cozy relationship with corporations, didn't it?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Conservative Hypocrisy at Ground Zero

Or, to be more accurate, a few blocks away from Ground Zero.

You've undoubtedly heard that a lot of conservatives are complaining about the proposal to establish an Islamic community center--sort of the Muslim version of the Y--in lower Manhattan. I'm sure you also know that the opponents and the MSM keep calling it a mosque, even though it isn't; calling this place a mosque is like calling a new Catholic hospital a "cathedral" because it will have a chapel in it.

Still, one can't help being struck by the multiple layers of hypocrisy displayed by the conservatives opposing this development.

First, the most important part of the Constitution to conservatives is the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Particularly for the religious right, you know that they are ever on the watch for government incursions on their right to worship god as they wish. Yet what are they doing here? They're asking the government to bar this particular group of Muslims from worshipping god as they wish. I guess they've decided that they're in favor of religion, but they're only in favor of one religion.

I actually think it's good for them to be forced out into the public view with this position.

Second, though, look at what religion they're objecting to: they appear to be objecting to a religion that stands for a strict adherence to the dictates of scripture, and that, as a practical matter, enforces the subjugation of women. In other words, they should like it because their view of Islam is totally in line with their own religio-political views. The group that exists anywhere in the world that is closest to fundamentalist religious conservatives are the Taliban, and other fundamentalist conservative Islamists. They're obviously missing something here. Maybe they should line up with their fellow intolerant fundamentalists on this issue.

But there's more. For instance, the fight this week was in New York City's Landmarks Commission, and they get to decide whether the owner of a potentially historic building is going to be allowed to make changes in that building. The people who are fighting the community center are wrapped up in the whole Republican private property ideology. If anything, they are against any government restrictions on what an owner can do with their property. It's pure hypocrisy for these people to go to the Landmarks Commission and ask them to tell the owner of this particular parcel that they are not allowed to put this property to the use they want to put it to.

Finally, when they didn't get the decision they wanted out of the Landmarks Commission, the wingers are now suing to get the decision overturned.

Wait a minute! These right-wingers are the guys who lined up behind Reagan and every Republican since then to whine about what they consider frivolous lawsuits, but they're actually the ones who are advancing this frivolous case when it suits their political aims.

So let's review: religious right-wingers are attacking the freedom of religion; misogynists and male supremacists are attacking an institution of misogyny and male supremacy; private property fundamentalists are asking the government to interfere with the use of private property; and people who don't like frivolous litigation are initiating and pushing frivolous litigation.

Good going, conservatives!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) On the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

Book Review: 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This novel stands for the proposition that someone who is very smart, and may have very good and clear philosophical ideas, may yet be unable to write good, believable fiction.

The novel centers on Cass Seltzer, a professor of the psychology of religion who has become famous for writing a best-selling book about religious belief, and his relationships with his academic mentor, his girlfriend, who is also a professor, his university (Brandeis, thinly disguised as "Frankfurter University"), and the Hasidic community his mother abandoned as a young woman.

I freely concede that the author has more inside knowledge of the politics and inner workings of academia, and I have no problem believing the ego and political conflicts present there. What I do have trouble believing is that anyone would take serious Jonas Elijah Klapper, the inflated gasbag Seltzer chooses to be his mentor.

Cass Seltzer, the main character, is well drawn and generally believable. The difficulty I had with him, though, is that until the climactic debate on the question Resolved: God Exists, his life choices and credulity give no hint of the intelligence he displays in the debate. He's supposed to be smart, but it's not good enough for the author to tell us: some evidence would be helpful. The other characters are weak, almost to the point of being props.

There are definite scenes of academic humor, and the god debate is pretty well done, but if Goldstein intended this as a novel of ideas, in which the questions of faith and doubt, religion and disbelief are played out in an engaging and believable way, I'm afraid she's missed the mark.

View all my reviews >>

Labels: , , ,