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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Great names in sports 

College basketball has produced its fair share of truly great names. Guys like Yaya Dia (pronounced "Ja," from Georgetown). There was even a guy named God (Providence's God Shamgod).

This guy, though, gets my vote for the most amusing name ever.
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Friday, February 04, 2005

Tsunami relief no-go 

Quite some time ago, I said that I would be going to Hawaii soon, for some temporary active duty to help with the planning and coordination of the military's tsunami relief effort.

Well, scratch that idea. It took a while, but in the end, the great wheels of bureaucracy did not turn in my favor.

First of all, the command that was originally going to pay for my active duty time changed its mind. They also dragged their feet for a couple of weeks informing me of the change.

Then it fell upon another major command to decide if they wanted to fund it. That took a week and a half, but eventually they said no. They would rather pay me with the taxpayers' (i.e. your) money to spend a couple of weeks at some sort of multilateral exercise.

Call me crazy if you like, but I had this notion in my head that the country should maximize the impact of its military reserve force. The taxpayer (you) gets more bang for the buck if I, as a Naval Reservist, spend my active time supporting real-world operations. You know, saving lives or plotting the defeat of terrorists like I'm used to doing. Instead, I will spend that time exercising with the East Nowhere Navy to reassure them that we like them.

Gotta take care of the important stuff.
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Flowers as economic remedy 

Some people just don't know how to be serious. Like a group in Brunswick, Maine whose members

are putting together a plan to convert some or all of Brunswick Naval Air Station into a huge and elaborate flower garden.
I have nothing against flowers. My dad grows and sells them by the thousands, and I planted my fair share of them during my high school summers. In fact, I kinda like flowers. They're pretty and they make places look nice. What they can't do is prevent the economic collapse of Brunswick should the Naval Air Station close. Some people feel otherwise.

The garden would be such an amazing spectacle that it would draw people from around the world, said Herschel Sternlieb, the McKeen Street resident in whose imagination the idea first sprouted.

"I'm not talking about something small on the corner here," said Sternlieb recently during an interview at his home, gesturing out to his residential neighborhood. "I'm talking about a place where people's minds are blown. I'm talking world-class."
I'm talking nonsense! I'm talking complete lunacy!

Seriously, would you go out of your way to see flowers, in a town whose only other claim to fame is a damn good liberal arts college? Even if flowers are a passion for you, would you get on a flight from Frankfurt to see Brunswick, Maine's flower garden? People will come "from around the world" according to Mr. Sternlieb.

I ain't buyin' it.

The people of Brunswick will need an economic shot in the arm if the base closes, and a peace garden certainly won't be it. They will need jobs. A garden won't replace the 1,100 civilian jobs the town stands to lose, not to mention the hundreds more that will be lost as business slows down. Over 4,000 military people, plus families, live in or near Brunswick. If they go, they will no longer spend money in local businesses.

Can a flower garden replace them?

Fortunately this will never be more than a pipe dream. If the base closes, the land will still be Navy property. I seriously doubt that the flower children will be the highest bidder when it goes up for sale.

But goodness... what a daft idea.
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Maine Dems support irrelevance 

From the Press Herald:

AUGUSTA — All four of Maine's voting members of the Democratic National Committee are supporting former presidential candidate Howard Dean in his candidacy for the party's national chairmanship. Maine Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Colwell said he and Vice Chairman Marianne Stevens, along with DNC members Sam Spencer and Jennifer DeChant, are joining Gov. John Baldacci in supporting the former Vermont governor for the national party's top post.
Let us know how that works out for you, okay?
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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SOTU image of the night 

If you weren't moved when Safia Taleb al-Suhail, an Iraqi human rights activist, held onto Janet Norwood, mother of slain Marine Sergeant Byron Norwood, like she never wanted to let go... then you don't understand what it's all about.

THAT, my friends, summed it all up in one image that I may never forget.

Runner up image of the night: Ms. al-Suhail with ink on her finger and tears in her eyes.

We, the United States, made that image possible. We made Safia Taleb al-Suhail's tearful joy and gratitude possible.

Be proud.
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Slow on the uptake 

The MSM still hasn't conclusively determined that the "soldier" abducted in Iraq is actually a doll.

Links: BBC, AP, Reuters, LA Times.

Look at the pictures! Compare the toy's gear to what actual U.S. soldiers wear and carry! This isn't hard, people!

I sometimes think that every MSM outlet needs at least one person from the military hanging around to help them with basic stuff like this. Someone to tell them, "Guys, we don't wear vests like that," or "We tuck our pants in," or "Iraqi insurgents don't carry the M-4," or (saw this on my local news last week), "The guy with 4 stars on his shoulder and a nametag reading 'ABIZAID' is not Gen. David Petraeus like your banner says."

Honestly, why is it so hard for them?
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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Evolution 

The NYT has an article today describing how science teachers in the Fundamentalist Belt are short-changing the teaching of evolution, because they don't want trouble from students and parents who disagree with it.

Since few things get me going the way ignorance can, this article got my attention. And the more I read, the more incredulous I became.

I understand people's right to disagree on matters of opinion. But facts are another matter, and there's no scientific room for argument when it comes to evolution. It's testable--and verifiable--scientific fact.

An Ohio biology teacher in the article says that

...evolution underlies many of the central ideas of biology and that it is crucial for students to understand it.
And for that reason, it is an absolutely vital part of learning biology.

If we as Americans value science as part of an education, then we should teach science. Undiluted science--without consideration for the writings of a desert nomad from thousands of years ago.

And if a particular parent considers Genesis to be the real deal, and wants his child's "education" to be unencumbred by wild "theories" like evolution, then fine. But while we're at it, let's label all of mathematics a "theory" too. After all, it's a human invention that doesn't come directly from the Bible. I'm pretty sure that the English language wasn't mentioned in the Old Testament either, so it could also be the devil's dirty work. Better brush up on your ancient Greek.

Having said all of that and firmly established where I stand (i.e. on the only rational side there is), this simply shocks me:

[I]n 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.
It sounds like we have a long way to go before we become a nation of rational thinkers who accept basic facts.

However, if I'm ever charged with a crime, I want fundamentalists on my jury. They just might argue that the forensic evidence against me was planted by God in order to throw off the police investigators.

Alright, if you've read this far, I'll reward you with some evolution humor. Enjoy.
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