You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.
I want to jointhechorus in drawing your attention to a new blog, Good Math, Bad Math. The proprietor, Mark Chu-Carroll is a researcher in computer science. He's been taking on some of the truly awful mathematics that we see, especially where it gets applied to the evolution/creationism "debate." While not pandering to the lowest common denominator, his explanations are accessible to many, if not most, people.
I spend so much of my time in practical software development that I've lost touch with the theoretical and research parts. It's really refreshing to be able to read the stuff on Good Math and return to the underpinnings of what I do. It's also very refreshing to read his slap downs on some of the icons of anti-Evolution like William Dembski.
MarkCC and I share an employer. Sadly, we're at opposite ends of the country and opposite ends of the company.
There's a push by religious conservatives to place the Bible as the supreme law of the land, superceding the US Constitution. This push runs from the mild and faintly ridiculous martyr pose that there is some sort of organized anti-Christian effort, all the way to the full nuttery of having a religious test for office, especially judgeships.
This push brings us things like the anti-abortion laws recently passed in South Dakota and the flurry of anti-evolution activity on school boards across the country.
Of course, this is all completely counter to the principles on which the United States was founded, but that little issue doesn't seem to stop the idiots.
Thanks to an American University law professor, Jamie Raskin, we have the perfect response to politicians who want to put the Bible ahead of the Constitution:
Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the
Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand
on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.
Via the Leiter Report, we have this. A British soldier, a member of the elite SAS, no less, refused to serve in Iraq because of the illegal actions of the Americans. What's even better is that he was given an honorable discharge.
I'm not usually very fond of celebrities voicing opinions on things other than their area of expertise. I'm particularly bugged by people like RFK Jr. with his anti-vaccination bleat or Tom Cruise dissing psychiatry on the basis of a religion begun by a manic-depressive science fiction writer.
The Huffington Post weblog is very hit-or-miss with me. Besides the aforementioned RFJ Jr. and the other anti-vaccination crowd, there are quite a few people that I rate as "idiots" on the blog.
So, you'd think that, with two strikes against it, this post would be a loser. But it isn't, at least for me. George Clooney willingly takes on the label of "liberal" (a lousy label, but one that shouldn't be equated with "evil" as the right wants to do.) In particular, he rails against the Democrats who have been frightened away from their (supposed) principles because of being tarred with that label. My favorite line from the post was addressed at the Democrats who are now claiming that they were "misled" into the Iraq war. (Sorry for the language):
The fear of been criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, "We were misled." It makes me want to shout, "Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."
The conclusion is good, too:
Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don't say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.
Of course, demonizing the "liberal" label isn't anything new — nothing this administration does is terribly original. I recall a Bloom County series where Opus got labeled, and it stuck! (Sorry, the archives aren't available without a subscription.)
I think that there's much more wrong with Democrats than simply being afraid of the "liberal" label. Many are just as beholden to business interests as Republicans. But those that aren't, need to step up to the plate, be grown ups and take their hits.
UPDATE:Sheldon Drobny at HuffPo takes the "beholden to monied interests" tack. I think that the truth lies somewhere between the two.
UPDATE2: Well, maybe George meant it, or maybe he didn't. Probably why I don't like celebrities. (Personally, I think that he made the statements, approved the statements, but didn't realize the scope of what a blog might be. Too bad!)
John Wilkins has some excellent advice to parents here. The basic point is that if you try to force your religious beliefs on your children, there's a good chance that they will rebel. If you believe that religion is important (and that your religion is particularly important), then the way to get that message across is to be a good example.
Hmmm... didn't Jesus say something about being a good example?
A couple of months ago, my SO and I were at the Saturday farmer's market in Santa Monica. Visiting one vendor, we saw that she had some raw (uncured) olives for sale. She was very enthusiastic about them, saying how easy it was to cure them and offering a set of recipes. So we bought of mostly dark red olives. This fits with some of our other home projects: Mead, vinegar, Moroccan preserved lemons, sourdough.
... is a horse designed by a committee, as the old saw goes. Anyone who has done committee work can attest to the level of idiocy that can be produced by a group of people. As the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, so often is the output of a group much more stupid than the stupidity of its members.
Now, via Pharyngula, we have proof that the universe was designed by a committee — or even multiple committees. One of my favorite quotes:
“It’s quite a challenge,” Dr. Pootle said. “We know it’s more than
one—that’s incontrovertible. The problem is nailing precisely how many
creators the universe actually has. The closer we looked at the
problem, the more we found. At the moment our thinking is that there is
at least one committee of at least five omnipotent entities for every
individual species on the planet, with little or no work-sharing or
information exchange between different committees and often little
internal cooperation. It’s one holy rigid mother of a dysfunctional
bureaucracy. Extremely simple and poorly designed species, like an
amoeba, for example, probably have committees of at least two dozen
designers. They’re typical examples of the kind of work that gets
produced when no one is capable of either making an independent
decision or talking to the guy in the next cubicle. Same goes for