Thursday, October 26, 2006

Republican Values 

Courtesy of MyDD.com, convenient links to various articles on Republican candidates up for Election this November 7th...

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Evolving the Approach 

Being scientifically-minded, it often boggles my mind that people cannot seem to understand the concept of evolution -- how well-documented are so many examples of the process; and what the process is.

Then I remember the typical degree of science education for the modern American -- none. And I'll run across a sloppily-worded statement in a science magazine designed for the masses.

From both the print and online November editions of Discover:
When Burch and Gallup tested samples of human semen, they found luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, both of which can induce a woman to release eggs earlier than normal. Those hormones were conspicuously scant in semen from primates, like chimpanzees, that advertise their most fertile periods with red, swollen backsides.

Sexual evolution is like an arms race, Burch says. When women evolved concealed ovulation, men most likely developed semen full of hormones to wrest back control of paternity. [Emphasis Added]
Now, if you do know how the concept of evolution works, you won't look twice at the bolded sentence. You know what they're saying; an evolutionary pressure conferred a benefit, and so a different genetic variation was perpetuated within the species.

But, from the point of view of someone who doesn't know Darwin's Natural Selection from Miller Natural Lite, that sentence sounds quite different. What it says to them is this: "Women stopped having outward signs that they were ovulating, and men reacted with this sudden 'Bang! Fixed!' change to their sperm." Or, in other words, something happened which most people would consider just as magical as some deity creating the world in six days. Female human primates stopped having red asses, men instantly started producing special sperm to make the females ovulate.

One sloppy sentence in a science article actually subtly re-enforces all the brickbats that Creationists love to throw (wrongly) at Evolution.

Here's the real scenario. At some point, primates evolve out of the red-ass = ovulating mode (most likely because at some point previously, male primates decided that bright red asses were a big turn-off). Suddenly, the males can never be sure when the females are ovulating, so they probably start screwing like bunnies. (Side-effect: the non-monogamous behavior of non-red-assed primates.) Meantime, there are certain males whose semen just happens to contain the hormones that make an egg pop out at just the right time. It was a trait that was always there (or had been there for a long time) among some of the males, but not all of them. Except, with the change in female behavior, suddenly the guys with the special semen tended to knock up more females.

Repeat for X number of generations; special semen males make more babies, on average. Those babies have a statistically higher chance of having special semen (much higher if it's a dominant gene), and so are more likely to reproduce. Over time, more and more of the species carries the gene and the advantage becomes overwhelming. Eventually, over enough generations, it becomes the only genetic variation, or becomes such a vast majority that people without the special semen are considered to be the rare mutations.

There was nothing planned about it at all. And yes, it's technically correct to say that males "developed" the special semen, but that's to shortcut the process in a way that does not educate the people who need the education.

Evolution in a simple sentence: those organisms that possess some trait which will give them a reproductive advantage each generation will slowly begin to outnumber the organisms without said trait, until all organisms of the species living in the same conditions will bear that trait. Time and time again, that process has been tested and proven. Evolution has been proven.

And our popular science writers owe it to everyone else to be a little more precise in their language and not accidentally give the un-informed more reason to doubt.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Just Say "No". 

As the upcoming midterm elections approach, most of the focus lies on the statewide and national candidate races, which is fine. But there's something else to think of as you go to the polls. Want to send a real message that the process is screwed up and needs fixing?

Then vote "No" on every single ballot measure, proposition, question or whatever they call them in your state. Tell the politicians to go to hell with their bond measures, tell the special interest groups to stop subverting the process with very special interest measures that should have been weighed by the legislature and courts. In short, use your power to tell them NO, NO, NO and HELL NO.

I don't know about other states, but there's not a single state or local ballot measure in California that we wouldn't be better off without. And peel away the veneer of electoral process, more of them than not are just designed to put more money into the hands of people who already have too much -- government contractors, big pharma and hospitals, public utilities, etc.

Screw 'em all. California managed to do it right for Arnold's special election and reject every one of his measures. We can do it again, and so should the rest of the country.

So, this November, please go to the polls and just vote "No" on everything.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Reminder for California Voters 

This is your current governor.

Don't let him keep that job.

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Jay Leno Thinks He's Jon Stewart 

Although I don't think that Jon Stewart would ever claim to be running a news show. And Leno and Company has just gone overboard in the celebrity fawning department.

Tonight, on Leno's show, the special guest was... California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzeneger. All by himself, nattering away and pontificating to Jay's softball questions for several segments. During the campaign. Less than a month before the election.

What's missing from this picture? Why, Arnold's opposition candidates of course. At the very least, Phil Angelides should get... no... must get equal airing on NBC. That's how the game is supposed to work, and how it did work until Ronald Reagan gutted the equal time laws in the 80s.

How the game worked this time: NBC played semantics, of the same sort Republicans wet themselves over when they claimed b-b-b-but Clinton did it. To wit, it all depends on what the meaning of "equal time is". And so, somehow, Leno's show morphs from an entertainment program (which would require equal time) to a news show, which does not.

Give me a motherfucking break.

Time to write those letters and make those phone calls -- to NBC, the FCC, and your Senators and Congress Critters. Make it very clear: NBC must give all the other gubernatorial candidates equal time and equal hype on Leno's show before the election. Period. Otherwise, they don't deserve to use our public airwaves.

And, while we're at it, let's report them to the FEC, because they've just made an in-kind donation that has to be way the hell over the corporate limit -- just multiply AhNOld's time on Leno tonight by NBC's national per minute ad rates for the time slot and, well, they probably hit the limit before Arnold even finished saying, "Hello." (And Jay continued to gush and talk about him with subsequent guests; Arnold is up to at least a solid half hour commercial time gratis... and counting.)

I'm not buying the California polls, only because I've seen the pisspoor, flipflop job Arnold has done as governator in his first term. And does no one remember when the voters handed him his ass in the special election that he called at great expense because he couldn't get his way with the legislature by pissing and moaning and quoting his own movies? Where did that sentiment go? Because we sure need it now.

Sure. Angelides isn't the best choice. The best choice would be any third party candidate, 'cause it's about time that California led the way in dumping our stupid two party system. If only we could get a Green or a Libertarian in charge. But, for the moment, Angelides is a much better choice than the steroid in a suit currently playing at politics in Sacramento.

It's about the record, folks. Take a good hard look at Arnold's before you go to the polls in November. Take a look and ask yourself, "Has this jackass really done anything since he got elected?"

And then make a stink and make NBC eat it for what they've done tonight. At the very least, report them to the FCC for indecency, because it was nothing but Leno giving Arnold a big sloppy hummer before bending over and begging, "Fuck me, daddy."

Pathetic, really, to see the incest that is Hollywood spill out with so little disguise.

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