It’s the second day of my new semester, and I spent it at home with some kind of flu bug that set in during class last night and made the 45 minute subway ride home far more harrowing than usual. But by this afternoon, I was feeling peppy enough to tackle the “bug” that invaded an aging (all of 3 years old) laptop. Three hours later, I was consumed with hatred for computers – despite their making things like this blog possible. Whatever my computer caught awhile back, it first killed the antiviral software, then made it impossible to install any other. The firewall has worked, but who knows what viral and spyware devilspawn got in during the (I’m not going to say how long) time the other defenses were down. I ran a spyware detector, then a registry cleaner, lathered, rinsed, repeated… Finally I decided to reinstall the drivers with the manufacturer’s reinstall disk. That didn’t work, so I next reinstalled XP (swearing the whole while that I will convert to Linux one day), and watched as the process wiped out the graphics card so that, upon rebooting, there is nothing to look at — only those lovely little Windows loading chords to listen to.

All this to say that any of the nifty links I had stored up on that particular computer (between work, home and school, I’m spread out over several) to share with you are gone.

  • Can’t wait to see what kinds of extortionist politics Bush cooks up for this: The UK is trying to secure his support for African debt relief.
  • Juan Cole has a good article in Salon (access by subscription, or by watching a short ad) on what to expect in the short term from the Iraq elections. He also had a slightly skeptical blog post Sunday which gives some history of Bush’s political machinations leading up to this election. In the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, of course, Bush is going to tell us tomorrow night – as others have observed (and here) – that the whole point of the invasion was to give Iraqis the right to vote. I wish we could think the media won’t let him, but since they’ve given him a pass on every other lie (as a recent example, his made up “study” demonstrating the superiority of two-heterosexual-parent-families), it’s probably moot.
  • I don’t always remember to check Keith Olbermann’s blog, but once in awhile something points me back to it. This time it was a story in the Revealer (also The Village Gate). Last week, Olbermann did a segment on his show Countdown on James Dobson’s bizarre warnings about Sponge Bob (warnings which Dobson is now claiming were mischaracterized). His blog documents the hilarious retaliation campaign launched by the Focus on the Family website, here, here, and here. Enjoy.
  • Now that the election is over, Utah is reconsidering its draconian gay marriage ban. Wonder what Ohioans are going to think when they confront the same realities?

    Taken literally, Utah’s provision could deny hospital visitation or survivor’s property rights to children being brought up by grandparents, or to senior citizens who live together but do not marry for financial reasons. Siblings living in the same household also could find themselves without customary rights.

    Utah’s Legislature – overwhelmingly Republican and Mormon, and one of the most conservative bodies in the nation – ignored warnings from the state’s Republican attorney general that the amendment went too far. Utah voters ratified it with 66 percent approval in November.

    Now, in a moment of sober reflection, the same lawmakers are looking at giving back to adults who live together but are ineligible to marry – a category that includes same-sex couples – some of the rights of husband and wife…

  • More on social security: Paul Krugman crunches the right’s magical numbers (big surprise – they don’t add up:“They can rescue their happy vision for stock returns by claiming that the Social Security actuaries are vastly underestimating future economic growth. But in that case, we don’t need to worry about Social Security’s future: if the economy grows fast enough to generate a rate of return that makes privatization work, it will also yield a bonanza of payroll tax revenue that will keep the current system sound for generations to come… Alternatively, privatizers can unhappily admit that future stock returns will be much lower than they have been claiming. But without those high returns, the arithmetic of their schemes collapses.”), and Farhad Manjoo parses the phrase book (“…in the campaign that the White House is about to launch, the numbers won’t count for much. What will count, as Republicans suggest in their playbook, are language and media, and public relations spinners will matter far more than economists”).
  • This just makes me sick:

    …In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue.

    Teaching guides and textbooks may meet the approval of biologists, but superintendents or principals discourage teachers from discussing it. Or teachers themselves avoid the topic, fearing protests from fundamentalists in their communities…

    Further on:

    There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that all living things evolved from common ancestors, that evolution on earth has been going on for billions of years and that evolution can be and has been tested and confirmed by the methods of science. But in a 2001 survey, the National Science Foundation found that only 53 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.”

    And this was good news to the foundation. It was the first time one of its regular surveys showed a majority of Americans had accepted the idea. According to the foundation report, polls consistently show that a plurality of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago, and about two-thirds believe that this belief should be taught along with evolution in public schools.

    These findings set the United States apart from all other industrialized nations, said Dr. Jon Miller, director of the Center for Biomedical Communications at Northwestern University, who has studied public attitudes toward science. Americans, he said, have been evenly divided for years on the question of evolution, with about 45 percent accepting it, 45 percent rejecting it and the rest undecided.

    In other industrialized countries, Dr. Miller said, 80 percent or more typically accept evolution, most of the others say they are not sure and very few people reject the idea outright.

    “In Japan, something like 96 percent accept evolution,” he said. Even in socially conservative, predominantly Catholic countries like Poland, perhaps 75 percent of people surveyed accept evolution, he said. “It has not been a Catholic issue or an Asian issue,” he said.

    In the October 11, 2004 “Non Sequitur” comic strip (archived on U Comics, but you’ll need a subscription – or a trial registration) the little kid and her pony friend are studying the campaign debates on TV. She explains what she has learned to her father: “it’s more important to demean the opponent’s integrity than to be right about anything… and never ever admit that you’re wrong.” Her dad tells her she was born for this era, and she says, “I just hope some stupid ‘age of reason’ doesn’t come along by the time I grow up.” Sadly, I must agree with her pony: “Oh, I don’t see much chance of that…”

  • Happy 49th birthday, Rudy!
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