Friday, January 10, 2003

Instapundit is on an alcohol advocacy binge. My brother, a pathologist, has done a lot of autopsies on alcoholics and confirms that alcohol does indeed keep one's heart in good shape. So we should all take up drinking, right?

I would be glad to go along if everybody would stick to a glass of wine with dinner, but show me where anything in the media really promotes that. What the beer companies promote is drinking all you want, but don't drive drunk. I know as a public defender most of my cases involved crimes done under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Somehow, it doesn't provide much comfort to know that the drunk who killed an old couple in my county had healthy arteries. I've just seen too much misery from alcohol to feel that it is a net benefit to our society.

Speaking of Best of the Web, James Taranto has been asking questions about Lakehurst University, which appears to be a front, possibly for Muslim extremists. Today, he reminds us that the anthrax letters were sent from Franklin Park, New Jersey, the same place where the Lakehurst U. is located. Also, remember that the return address on those envelopes was a school that doesn't exist. I wonder if anybody in the FBI reads Best of the Web.

I'm glad to see that Patty Murray isn't going to get away with lying about her lying. Fox NewsFox News and Best of the Web have been holding her feet to the fire. If it's good enough for Trent Lott, it should be good enough for her. By trying to deny it, she's just prolonging the misery. She should just admit that she was wrong and apologize.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

From mentions in numerous places, it seems that the critique of environmentalism as being quasi-religious is catching on. I've thought this for at least 10-15 years, even proposed a suit to declare the Wilderness Act unconstitutional as an establishment of religion. I first thought of it as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more serious it became. Just review their literature for words like "holy", "sacred", and similar religious terms.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Judith Rich Harris sounds really bitter. But I agree with her assessment of psychology.

I've perused the anwers to The World Question Center. This is a cool idea for a website, btw.

Some of the answers are predictable: Stop Global Warming! Allow cloning for research. Give scientists more say over politics and government and more grant money.

David Gelernter's reply is great. " The right answer will have nothing to do with environmental doomsday stories; it will deal with people's everyday lives, making them better." This "make people's lives better" appears in a number of replies, but Gelernter's ideas, NOT going to Mars, but improving transportation with maglev trains, supersonic transport, etc. are refreshingly realistic.

Jaron Lanier focuses on Medicine, Energy, Transportation, and Climate, after a pep talk about how the President needs more scientists among his close advisors, as if all scientists would share his ideas.

Steven Pinker looks at education:
First and foremost, we must apply a scientific mindset to the educational process. People outside of the educational establishment are often shocked to learn how little in instructional practice has been evaluated using the standard paraphernalia of social science�control groups, random assignment, data collection, statistics. Instead, classroom practice is set by fads, romantic theories, slick packages, and political crusades. We already know that some methods of teaching reading work better than others; we need more of these assessments, and faster implementations of what works into classroom settings.
I'm not sure that I trust academics to tell us how education works. They've been doing it for years and our schools are worse for it. For example, rote memorization does work, but everybody hates it, especially teachers, because it's BOOOOORING and you can't really write a Doctoral dissertation on stuff like this. I can't think of much that schools have done with new technology that couldn't be done with memorization, repetitive practice problems and flash cards. Until Pinker and his colleagues come up with some really useful new insights, I'd politely put him off.

Rodney Brooks' suggestion is one I definitely would NOT adopt until we have won the war on terrorism. Instapundit will like Seth Lloyd's points.

It's a good list and interesting answers, even if some of them are absurd and some have used the opportunity to pour contempt on the president.
My favorite is Martin Seligman, who gives some good common sense advice:
The civilized world is at war with Jihad Islamic terrorism. It takes a bomb in the office of some academics to make them realize that their most basic values are now threatened, and some of my good friends and colleagues [anwering this question] seem to have forgotten 9/11. If we lose the war, the laudable, but pet projects they endorse, will not be issues. Fighting fatwahs and no education for women will displace grousing about random assignment of schoolchildren to study education. If we win this war, we can go on to pursue the normal goals of science.
He'd be mine candidate for science adviser. He's a psychologist who has studied and written about happiness, but he seems pretty down to earth.

My view is that perfecting anti-missle defense is more pressing than most of the other points, despite the fact that a lot of these people would say it's impossible. Maybe so, but it has to be a lot more possible than trying to stop global warming, or getting to Mars.Too many of these problems aren't so pressing that they need to be solved in the next 6 years, which is as long as Bush II can affect things. The really pressing ones have to do with defeating terrorists and nutcase nations like Noth Korea and Iraq. Of course, finding a way to deflect asteroids might be more pressing than anything else, but only a few of these scientists would be qualified to advise the president on that.

I'd like it if we spent more on most of these ideas, but the question asks about pressing problems, not wish lists.

What the . . .?! This isn't even in Utah! The drinkers here are always whining about the liquor laws, but I've never heard of the cops raiding bars here.

Glenn Reynolds calls the police actions "Orwellian," which I find a bit overblown. After all, in 1984 the story could not have been published, let alone the reactions of the people who were tested. There would have been no right to petition the government and no courts with authority to enjoin the police. There definitely was no right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Things like this happen from time to time, people being what they are, but the point is that in this country citizens have a panoply of legal protections against overreaching by government that are entirely absent in a totalitarian state. Yet liberarians and liberals continually claim that we are being subjected to Orwellian oppression. Not true. Not even close.

If we truly lived in an Orwellian system, there would have been no 9/11. We wouldn't have millions of illegal aliens living in our midst. We wouldn't have a free press where raids like this are reported unsympathetically. We wouldn't have blogs or an open internet.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Is Nothing Sacred?

Are you ready for some football?

Miami won, but a bad call by the officials sent it into second overtime. Those teams are so evenly matched that they should have awarded them co-championships.

The Forty-niners won on a bad no-call. They did to the Giants what the Rams did to them last week. Sometimes I think that the 49ers and the Rams are just so good they get bored, but once they wake up, they're amazing. The Giants seemed to lose their cool when the momentum shifted. Sure, they should have gotten a second shot at the field goal. So we'll never know how that would have turned out. It was theirs to lose and they did. Experience in the playoffs won the game for the Niners, but it hasn't seemed to teach Terrell Owens anything.

Green Bay. How the mighty are fallen! Worst job of coaching I've seen this year. Too many injuries, too much malaise.

Atlanta. Why they in a Wildcard game? They and the Giants should have both won their divisions, but they must not have been playing all year like they were the last few weeks.

Steelers. The real Wildcard.

The Colts v. the Jets. Boring. Manning has been carrying the Colts. He is the reason they even made it to the playoffs. He reminds me of Steve Young playing for the Bucs back in the days of the creamsicle uniforms.

I've thought that the Eagles were the team to beat, but the Giants beat them. I think that letting McNabb play might be a mistake. He sure won't be the mobile threat he was before he broke his leg. Maybe experience will win this one. I think they weren't really up for the Giants game, but they will be for the Falcons. I'm rooting for the Eagles because their coach used to work for BYU and he's very good. It's a good thing I don't bet.

This weekend: The Bucs beat the Niners. The Steelers beat the Titans. Eagles over the Falcons. The Raiders, who are now more like the Niners than the Raiders, over the Jets.

The Superbowl: The Eagles v. the Raiders. The Raiders win because McNabb isn't 100%.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Hmmm, Sharia Law? Sounds like the name of a Muslim stripper. You saw her here first!

I just found Adam Felber's blog, Fanatical Apathy. The link is to a most trenchant analysis of the Democrat lineup for 2004 yet.

Seeing sites like this and Lileks' makes me feel so inadequate. All these years of writing motions and briefs have left me unable to be spontaneous and funny. Mostly, I think of funny things while I supposed to be something serious, like in court. My best was when the prosecutor was reciting a stipulation into the court record, i.e. stating to the court what facts we had agreed to, in the form of agreeing that had a state's expert witness testified, she would have said blah, blah, blah. The judge then asks me, 'Is that your stipulation?' I said, 'Yes, but the record should reflect that if she had testified, I would have broken her down on cross examination.' The judge gave me the look of a dog hearing a strange sound. I never tried that again.

When I was in college, I used to post notices on the library bulletin board on behalf of the Young Apathetics of BYU--things like "This month's meeting of the YABYU has been cancelled for lack of interest." We also sponsored a BYU Banalities contest. Now I find my idea being exploited by Adam Felber! Well, Adam, put this in your pipe: I don't care!

Oh well, back to the depression.

Well, done! Mike Silverman blogs about that weird Wrangler jeans ad with John Fogarty singing "Fortunate Son" behind it. I've wondered how many of their audience realized that it was an anti-war, anti-privilege hit during the sixties, not a patriotic anthem. (I've always thought it referred to Al Gore, Senator's Son) I guess it shows how few people listen to the words.

Update: I just noticed that Mike's mention of this ad was from last August. Just like me to be 4 months behind the times.

I've been reading the comments to LGF's announcement of the first annual Fiskie Award. Hail, Jimmy Carter, the man who proves all the misconceptions about Christians.

In this letter to the Salt Lake Tribune E. W. Barham quotes Emmet Fox on the power of love:

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer,

No disease that enough love will not heal,

No door that enough love will not open,

No gulf that enough love will not bridge;

No wall that enough love will not throw down,

No sin that enough love will not redeem.

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,

How hopeless the outlook,

How muddled the tangle,

How great the mistake,

A sufficient realization of love will help dissolve it.

It's a nice sentiment, but I don't think that it really states the truth. It seems to me that most people who use "love" this way, really mean "agree with me."

How about this version:

There is no difficulty that enough agreeing with me will not conquer,

No disease that enough agreeing with me will not heal,

No door that enough agreeing with me will not open,

No gulf that enough agreeing with me will not bridge;

No wall that enough agreeing with me will not throw down,

No sin that enough agreeing with me will not redeem.

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,

How hopeless the outlook,

How muddled the tangle,

How great the mistake,

A sufficient realization of agreeing with me will help dissolve it.

Now you know how stupid the original really is. I remember how, during the 1960s, many Peace protesters become angry and even violent towards those who didn't accept their simplistic solutions.

Jesus Christ has all the love there is, but he can't save anyone without their repentance. We can't have peace when there are people who want to kill us in service to their god. Love can work many miracles, but it can't deny personal freedom.

What I find disgusting about some prosecutors is that they forget that their job is to do justice, not just win. This is pretty sophomoric and should be disciplined.